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Why Recruitment Technology Needs a Human Touch

Recruitment technology shouldn’t replace recruiters—read on to find out why.

The 2020 pandemic has flipped the way we interview candidates—in-person interviews have fallen by the wayside and video interviewing has taken its place.  More than a year into the mainstream shift to remote recruiting, we’ve learned that video interviews are just as effective. 

In fact, most of us agree that they’re better. A survey of 2500 tech recruiters and hiring managers found that around 50% preferred them over in-person interviews for their logistical flexibility. Around 40% said interviewing remotely saved them time. Experts like Hung Lee also believe they make recruitment processes more inclusive and improve the candidate experience

Hiring managers are likely to continue interviewing remotely post-pandemic. “If we do see the return to the office,” recruiter Hung Lee wrote, “we can expect the in-person interview to have perhaps less weight than it did before, and potentially even transform in purpose.” 

A hit with hiring managers and candidates, the secret to the success of video interviews is that they balance recruitment technology—like scheduling, text recruiting, video conferencing, and remote pair programming software—with human interaction. They make recruiting processes more efficient while keeping them human.

Here’s why that matters.

Recruitment technology is fallible

Recruitment technology isn’t better at sourcing, screening, and selecting candidates than an actual person is. Applicant tracking systems (ATS)—software programs that automate and simplify recruiting—can disqualify good candidates if their resumes don’t have the right format or keywords, or if they have an unconventional career path.

Artificial intelligence (AI) software also fails us. In 2015, Amazon discovered that their AI recruiting tool was prejudiced against women. Some experts believe that AI video-based assessments put people with disabilities at a disadvantage.

As journalist Rebecca Heilweil wrote, “AI systems are only as good as the data they’re trained on and the humans that build them.”

Recruitment technology is indifferent

Recruitment technology is devoid of emotion. Meanwhile, job candidates want to feel respected and cared for. A 2017 survey found that most prefer that recruitment technology stays behind the scenes and is used to improve, not run, recruiting processes.

That’s not always what happens. According to recruiting expert Liz Grant, plenty of application processes are impersonal. Designed not for applicants, but for applicant tracking systems (ATSs), they’re based on dull, lengthy application forms (which 60 percent of job seekers abandon before hitting ‘Submit’) and cold, automated messages. 

Some hiring processes rely heavily on texting, which candidates may perceive as inappropriate when used to follow up after interviews and deliver feedback.

Using recruitment technology responsibly 

To make recruiting processes not just efficient, but also inclusive and inspiring, we need a mix of recruitment technology and personal interaction.

Tools and systems need to be designed with humans—and the right goals—in mind. 

We need to understand how they work so we aren’t misled by the data they provide. We also need to know what their limitations are so we can counter them. 

That could mean checking resumes our ATSs didn’t rank highly. Or using additional sourcing strategies and screening methods to ensure our processes are inclusive. Or using text snippets as starting points rather than finalized messages. Or taking the time to call candidates who didn’t get the job.

To paraphrase Henry Thoreau, the key is that we don’t become tools of our tools, but use them instead, with all the responsibility that comes with the power to recruit and hire.

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