RecBot: The Rise of Automation in Recruitment?

Rebekah Valero-Lee Career Advice


Artificial intelligence and automation are the ultimate disruptive technology. There doesn’t seem to be an industry in the world that isn’t affected by the ease and cost-effectiveness that computers, artificial intelligence and automation bring. For many industries, the effects often result in loss of jobs, as workers (particularly in repetitive and manual jobs such as working on car production lines) are replaced by machines with greater capacity, accuracy and reliability.

Walk into a large supermarket or your local McDonalds. What do you see? You see shiny, talkative screens facing you, ready to take your order and payment, so you can do your weekly shop or get that Big Tasty without any form of human interaction. While once roughly 80-20 in favour of the friendly, biological till operator, you’ll notice that we’re already moving towards something more like a 50-50 split.

How does the recruitment industry fit in with this trend? Artificial intelligence and automation has a two-fold effect on a recruiter. Depending on the sectors that the recruiter operates in, artificial intelligence and automation could have an effect on the number of roles that are left to fill. You don’t need a recruiter to place a robot, afterall.

The other, and perhaps more significant effect that artificial intelligence and automation can have, is with the art of recruitment itself. With candidate data being inputted into databases and systems, there’s an increasing argument that qualified candidates can be easily sourced in the system by an intelligent algorithm rather than an actual recruiter. Since algorithms don’t command salaries or commission, you can see the business argument.

Algorithms are wonderful things. They make things that were formerly impossible possible. When looking for products on a website, they enable near instantaneous results with a list accurately related to your request. Therefore, if you want to find a project manager for your next big construction venture, surely you could use RecBot and save yourself time and money?

The Interaction Problem

Can you remember the last time you accused a computer of being too caring, attentive and not clinical enough? When was the last time your computer phoned you up to make sure your latest purchase was working well for you?

I think you can see what we mean here. It’s all well and good having a decent search algorithm and a couple of neat automated emails. But good recruiters speak to candidates directly in a way that allows them to ascertain qualities about a candidate that can’t be inputted into a database. With company culture now more important than ever, there’s currently no way a commercially available automated recruitment system can judge character traits in a candidate that might make the difference between a good fit or not.

Of course, systems are trying to do this now. GradDNA is an app created by graduate recruiters and psychologists to match quality candidates to companies through a selection of questions. These special questions aim to ascertain character traits and mirror real psychological assessments. The graduate can then apply for suitable roles through the app.

But technology hasn’t yet developed to a stage where this technology can really replace the recruiter – the human at the other end of the phone, who knows you what you’re looking for. Until we reach a stage where humans and artificial intelligence are completely indistinguishable from one another (which is terrifying in itself), we can’t see any need for the recruiter to be worried.

We’re huge believers in the powers of technology in recruitment. We invest hundreds of thousands every year ensuring our cutting-edge recruitment tech is up to date and constantly improving. But at the heart of this are our recruiters – irreplaceable parts of the candidate journey that won’t be bowing out to a droid any time soon.

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