Could you be offered your next job by a robot?

There has been much talk about machines taking jobs, yet research shows that most employers expect overall headcount to increase as a result of automation. Across multiple sectors, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping organisations to eliminate low-level, repetitive tasks, freeing up humans’ time to focus on delivering more strategic, premium services.

The recruitment industry is one sector that is embracing automation. Recruiters have been using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to streamline their processes for years, but algorithms have the potential to revolutionise the talent pipeline further. But how much automation is too much? Could we soon be walking into jobs without any human interaction with our new employer?

Streamlining recruitment processes

Powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI can be used to automate tasks such as screening CVs and scanning databases for candidates. This arms recruiters with in-depth insights on potential targets, giving them more time to build relationships with candidates and clients.

From a candidate perspective, research shows that jobseekers are becoming more tech-savvy themselves. In a recent survey, social media ads, smartphone apps and video interviews were voted as the most popular channels for candidates to use when job hunting, so being able to deliver a more tech-led hiring process could improve their experience of the company overall.

Delivering a positive candidate experience is incredibly important, particularly when you consider the fact that a negative hiring experience can put individuals off from buying a company’s product or services in future. Interviews are just as much of an opportunity for the employer to inspire the candidate with their vision for the business, as they are an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their capabilities for the role in question. Using AI for multiple stages of the recruitment process could mean that the employer loses some of their ability to ‘sell’ the opportunity. A candidate might have several offers on the table, and it may be hard for them to differentiate the organisation from the competition if they haven’t had a chance to build rapport with their prospective employer in-person.

Striking a balance between man and machine

Technology can help organisations to provide a better candidate experience overall, but it should not be seen as a substitute for human interaction in recruitment. Jobseekers still value a human connection, with research showing that nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of UK candidates selected in-person interviews as their preferred recruitment method.

Attracting and retaining talent should not be a battle between human and robot. AI is most powerful when it is harnessed as ‘augmented intelligence’, and used to enhance, rather than compete with, human roles. For example, using big data analysis to spot underperforming candidates and match elements of their skillset to a different path that they may have more success with. This intelligence could then be interpreted by the recruiter, who could suggest an alternative route for the individual.

In the age of automation, technology is a conduit to creating a more streamlined hiring process, but delivering a personalised candidate experience is still critical. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules in Europe may limit the role that automated processing and screening can play in the years ahead, as candidates exercise new rights not to have hiring decisions based solely on automated processing. Nevertheless, recruitment is just as much about finding someone who is the right cultural fit for the organisation, as it is about finding someone with the right skills and experience. This is why employers should take a high-tech, high-touch approach to hiring. With the right skills, hiring managers and recruiters will be able to use technology to reduce administrative burden and streamline processes, without losing the personal interaction that candidates value so much.