- Technology and the recruitment process

Do we need to go ‘Back to the future’ with our recruiting methods?

Two decades ago (when the Internet was in its domestic infancy), many employers avoided recruiting university graduates with first class honours degrees, believing that such an achievement indicated that the graduate had focused solely on their books and had not engaged in a social life while at university, and therefore could not be expected to function well in a team environment.

Fast forward to 2018 and more and more employers, and recruiters, are using automated recruitment technologies to qualify job applicants via their CVs or online applications, with 70% of employers also actively using social media to screen prospective new employees. As such, candidates are expected to ensure their CVs are of a standard that can work well with the software’s filters, and to use their social media profiles to emphasise their skills, while abstaining from posting content with regards to their personal or social life. How things have changed!

This new method of recruitment has taken off massively over the last 2 years, with many lauding it for its speed, innovation, efficiency and streamlining benefits. However, it turns out that many people aren’t keen on the high-tech manner of recruitment that has come with the rise of the Internet and social media. In a survey published by ManpowerGroup Solutions last month, 61% of job candidates stated that they would choose ‘in-person’ interviews over digital recruitment methods, whilst 10% of these still used technology to assist their job search in the previous six months.

So, this month we are looking at both sides of the coin and sharing our thoughts on this very modern method of bringing people into your organisation.

The Benefits

Many employers now browse social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn, in search of suitable applicants, or as a way of checking up on potential candidates – how they portray themselves, who they are engaging with, and the posts they are sharing. Likewise, applicants and candidates use social media platforms to look up the companies they wish to join. This is where they can gain a feel for the culture and goals of the organisation.

In addition, more and more companies and recruiters are adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to qualify candidates. AI, which includes automated recruitment software and applicant tracking systems, offers the advantage of being very quick for processing large numbers of applications, focusing exclusively on the applicant’s skills, and largely eliminating any unconscious bias that may occur when processed by a real person.

A popular feature of automated recruitment processes is ‘kill questions’ – questions where, if an undesired answer is given, the applicant is prevented from proceeding any further. An example may be; ‘Do you have a unspent criminal record?’, to which an answer of ‘yes’ could result in the application process shutting down to the applicant. This offers a very quick and time-saving way of eliminating candidates from the process before it gets too far, preventing future disappointment for the candidate and employer alike.

The Downsides

Artificial Intelligence works on the criteria inputted before the ‘candidate profiling’ begins; it does not offer any level of flexibility of ‘reading between the lines’ (i.e. does a degree with no hands-on experience actually outweigh 15 years of on the job training and experience; or does a one-off unspent criminal conviction for a minor offence constitute the same reaction as a repeat offender?) The use of social media as a recruitment tool can offer many advantages in terms of time, efficiency and fast analysis, but it can be argued that in the field of recruitment, technology could be removing the very important human elements that create a positive experience for both the candidate and employer, and form relationships that go a long way towards ensuring long-term employment and happiness on both sides. Furthermore, with the implementation of the GDPR in May this year, a candidate can legally request their application is reviewed by a person if they are unhappy with any element of the process that does not involve human intervention (i.e. the use of software to filter CV’s). How would a business deal with this curve ball to ensure fairness within the recruitment process if one applicant made such an objection? Would the knowledge of AI being used stop your ideal employee from applying in the first instance?

Often it is more beneficial to have a real-life person handle the information collected during the application process, where a real ‘feel’ for the personality, goals, personal views and content of an applicant’s character can be gained – all vital elements that automated software just cannot filter.

Coming ‘back to the future’, if the ‘kill questions’, such as those described above, were used back in the day, we may not have such revered symbols of success who were once caught in less-than-ideal legal circumstances (i.e.: Bill Gates), or left school early for personal reasons (i.e.: Richard Branson).

Although they can be useful for quickly removing applicants that don’t meet your basic requirements, it can be argued that they remove the beneficial opportunity to meet and get to know the candidate behind the application, which can lead to long-term advantages for both parties that might otherwise be lost.

Our thoughts

For the larger recruiter, the use of technology and AI is advantageous in terms of speed, productivity and removing any risk of bias, but it cannot substitute the personal connection that ultimately differentiates one candidate from another, or one company from another. This is an area where smaller companies indeed have an advantage – employing less AI and more face-to-face processes that give a well-rounded impression of the candidate, as well as a more comprehensive experience of the company.

Conclusion

As an employer, it is important to find the right balance – employing technological methods to an end that boosts your processes and saves you and your candidates’ precious time, with a face-to-face system that truly endears your company to your new potential employee, while allowing you to get a real feel for the candidate and whether their personality and character would be an asset to your team.