As we all know, recruitment is based on people. People are what drives the industry. Yet how is this very human, personal industry adjusting to the so-called ‘march of the machines’?
Recruitment, like every other sector, is going through a period of disruption, thanks to the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technology. So, what will happen to the millions of recruitment consultants and head-hunters around the world, who post advertisements, sort through applicants’ CVs to find the best candidates and then connect them to clients? Will it soon be possible to get a new job, with no human interaction at all until you walk through the door on your first day? With the rise of HRtech, how is AI revolutionising the recruitment industry?
AI Finds the Right Candidate
Finding the best candidates for their clients is the primary responsibility for a recruitment company and AI can now aid them in this function. AI helps recruiters target precisely the type of people they want, whether they’re actively looking for a job or not. At the goal-setting stage, AI can analyse the attributes of successful hires already at the company, then search for similar people.
When sourcing, AI-powered apps enable firms to segment their database of candidates by job title, location, education, experience or any other required factor. They can also collect the data people voluntarily publish on social media regarding their interests, values and hopes for their career. Recruiters can then approach them and talk to them about new opportunities.
At the screening stage, AI can search through hundreds or even thousands of applications to look for the keywords that are appropriate for the position. What’s most remarkable about Ai is that it can perform this task in the fraction of time that it takes a human. Automated systems can even take care of scheduling interview times, which previously involved a lot of back and forth between the recruiter, candidate and client. If the candidate has any questions about the role or interview process, it’s possible for recruiters to set up chatbots that can help.
However, the buck doesn’t stop there. Even at the interview stage, AI can take the lead. Rather than face a human interviewer, candidates can be interviewed by AI over a video screen. Voice recognition analyses the candidate’s answers to ensure they are conveying the right information. It analyses their choice of words and tone of voice to grade their confidence, whether they are hesitant or unsure. AI-powered video recognition software analyses candidate’s facial expressions and body language. This data can then be compared with people who are already successful in the role at that organisation, to make sure you hire people who fit in well. Of course, by analysing the movement of a candidate’s eyes, AI can also tell if they are lying.
AI makes the whole interview process more structured, clinical and precise. It also makes it quicker, and scalable. A computer can interview hundreds of candidates at a time, while a human can only do one. Finally, it takes it out of the hands of human beings, with their own inherent and unconscious biases.
All of this frees up time for recruiters to perform the tasks only humans can do, the more consultative, advisory elements that make for a smooth recruitment process. It also gives them time to find more clients, which is still more likely to be done face-to-face.
AI Improves the Candidate Experience
It’s not just recruitment companies that are having their processes improved with the advent of AI and automation. These new technologies also have a beneficial effect for the candidates too.
When a candidate must wait for days or even weeks to hear from a recruitment company about a role, it can make them think badly of the company involved. A recent survey by X-Ref reported that 40% of candidates cancel their application because of delays in the recruitment process. Another common frustration for candidates, when they never hear back that they haven’t been successful in their application, can be solved by a simple automated email.
AI Creates a Level Playing Field
The most important benefit AI gives the candidate is that it levels the playing field (in theory at least). AI can drastically reduce bias in hiring because it removes humans, with their conscious and unconscious prejudices, from parts of the recruitment process.
An AI-driven hiring process focuses on skills and performance to find candidates, screen them and progress them. Candidates can’t rely solely on a brilliantly-written CV anymore. Nor will they be primarily judged on their interview skills, which often masks failings that are exposed when they get the job.
However, theory and reality are two different things. AI relies on algorithms that are programmed by humans. Human input is still required at every stage, to program and monitor the AI. It is important that recruiters are still vigilant against bias.
AI Is Great, But Should We Remove the Need for Humans Entirely?
Of course, there will be downsides to the AI revolution in recruitment. Candidates can learn to play the AI system just as they can learn to be good at interviews. Clients and candidates could also try to bypass the AI-driven recruitment process, which would lead to greater emphasis on networking and relationship-building.
In the future, the recruitment industry will need to restructure to take account of the AI revolution. There will be certain tasks that humans won’t be required to do anymore. However, new jobs will be created programming the machines and performing the softer skills that only humans can perform.
All in all, AI and automation will improve the recruitment process for everyone involved. It makes it more efficient for recruiters and makes it more likely that clients hire the right people to be happy and successful in their jobs.
It’s clear that candidates, recruiters and clients are all going to have to adapt or lose out on the HRtech revolution.
Axel Brill – Director, Hampleton Partners
Axel is a tech M&A and corporate finance expert after spending more than 25 years in the IT industry as a co-founder of his own software company, an investor in several tech companies and as a senior manager at a large enterprise. With experience at the world’s leading workforce management solutions provider and as owner of Executives Online in Germany, Axel brings a deep expertise of the HRtech sector to the Hampleton team and their clients.