Technology is finding its way into almost every aspect of our lives. From the smartphone that knows you better than you know yourself to the machines ruling our technology and manufacturing industries. It makes sense then, that computers could change the face of recruitment and become embedded in the hiring process. But can an industry with people at its heart be improved by algorithms and faceless technology? For most of us, the answer is, no. A computer can never pick up on that spark of ambition or cultural connection that will help a candidate thrive. Research, however, is telling a different story. Rullion investigated this trend, suggesting a computer might be the best recruiter you’ll never meet.
Much research into technology led recruitment is based on the principle that people are an inherently flawed bundle of assumptions and unconscious bias. Research suggests you are likely to hire someone who mirrors your personal qualities and is of a similar ethnic group, education and personal background. This leads to workplaces that lack both diversity of people and diversity of ideas. The CIPD highlighted this idea in its 2015 report on Behavioural Science and Recruiting and the results have been replicated in numerous similar studies. This type of research makes unsettling reading for recruiters and hiring managers but it’s an issue that must be addressed in order to build stronger workforces.
Computer Led Recruitment
The success of computer-based recruitment in trials and studies is undeniable. In the US, the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted research looking at over 300,000 service level placements made by people. Using questionnaire data, researchers categorised employees by strength as green for the highest performance candidates, yellow for average performance and red for low performance. On average the green candidates stayed in a job for longer than yellow and red candidates suggesting that data based hiring has real value. Another US study, found an algorithm outperformed purely human decisions by 25%. These findings have been replicated and make a startlingly strong case for the inclusion of algorithms in the hiring process.
Real World Automated Recruitment
Studies are one thing, but has automated recruitment transformed real life hiring? The answer is a resounding yes. Many organisations, particularly technology start-ups are including automation in their hiring process. The appetite for automation is also driving increasingly smart recruitment tools to be developed. Recruitment tools like Mya, advertise themselves as ‘AI recruiters’ able to make intelligent decisions with limited human input. The world of data-driven recruitment it seems is here and is growing.
What Does This Mean for Recruiters?
Should recruiters pack up their desks, plug in Alexa and take a holiday? Absolutely not. Smart recruitment tools, however smart, require human input and development to work well. They should form part of the hiring process but they should not be the hiring process.
It’s notable also, that many studies have focused on low level, service based roles and it’s difficult to see how an algorithm would cope with a senior position and greater emphasis on culture and values. The trick here seems to be to use algorithms to strip away as much potential unconscious bias as possible. This might be by asking candidates to fill in questionnaires and having a computer analyse the results anonymously or creating true skills-based comparisons without human bias.
We should embrace technology in an effort to develop fair and efficient hiring processes that lead to diverse and highly skilled workforces. This doesn’t mean recruiters or hiring managers disappear, simply that they have a wider range of smart tools at their disposal.