Recruiting Side-by-Side with Robots

November 11, 2017 Aon's Assessment Solutions


There’s a growing concern that robots will ‘take over’ jobs in many organisations. However, in recruitment, the likelihood is that humans and robots will work side-by-side in the future – and recruiters should welcome, not fear, this possibility. Read more about this topic in the article by David Barrett.

Robots have the potential to make recruiters’ lives easier by carrying out mundane, transactional processes and repetitive, administrative tasks, such as sorting, matching, rating and prioritising candidates. This will free you up to concentrate on more strategic areas where you can provide ‘human value’. For example, in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships with hiring managers and candidates, using your emotional intelligence and expertise.

The recruitment process for many low-level jobs has already been automated. We have online CV/résume scanning, for pre-defined attributes; automated scoring of online assessments; voice recognition and facial analysis technology enable video interviews to be scored and evaluated by machines; ‘chatbots’ conduct voice or text conversations, with pre-defined answers in response to a candidate’s queries; ‘robotic’ software automation programmes can conduct initial interviews and deliver shorter, more manageable lists of desirable candidates to hiring managers.

The trend towards robotisation will inevitably continue. However, humans will still need to ‘create’ the talent requirements in organisations. Machines can extrapolate and make predictions based on a learned model of past behaviour and experience – but currently they are not capable of envisioning a desired future. They can’t identify the competencies or attributes that will be required in future roles, if those roles don’t already exist.

Also, at some point, someone will actually need to talk to candidates. Robo-assistants may be able to work efficiently for long hours without breaks, healthcare benefits or even compensation. But you have to consider the candidate experience before you unleash them on your applicants. Recruitment is a two-way street: your candidates will be assessing your organisation as much as you’re assessing them. If a job seeker is interviewed by a robot, what impression does that create? It implies that the organisation thinks so little of them that they won’t even spare the time of a real person. Is that somewhere you’d want to work?

So, robots will become ‘recruiting assistants’. They’ll be given names and characters and they’ll become part of the team, helping with aspects such as pre-application candidate support, assessment and interview preparation.

Working side-by-side with machines is already commonplace in some industries. For example, 90 percent of flying a plane can be undertaken by a machine. It is effectively management by exception. However skilled pilots are still needed, to oversee, troubleshoot and to take control if something goes wrong. Importantly, they provide confidence to members of the public. As the developers of self-driving cars have found, the concept of putting one’s life completely in the hands of a machine is difficult to accept. Recruiters can provide that same confidence in organisations, guiding and coordinating the selection process.

Who you recruit – and the attributes you’ll look for – may change in the future. For example, the ability to work alongside robots will inevitably become a desirable competency. New and different jobs will also be created, such as maintaining and programming robots. The latter will always require a human touch because machine-learning algorithms are only as good as the data that’s fed into them. For example, a robot’s objectivity will, in theory, help recruiters to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias in the selection process. That’s a good thing. But, in reality, a robot could actually discriminate against women in favour of men, if it has been told that men tend to stay longer in your organisation (possibly because women leave to have children). Humans will therefore need to carefully consider any data and conclusions that are used to create each robot’s algorithms.

One thing is certain: robots are here to stay. They already impact on our lives every day and they’ll increasingly transform recruitment. But recruiters should see this as an opportunity. Robots will not only create new roles in organisations, they’ll safeguard many existing jobs by providing employers with a real competitive advantage. So, brush aside the bleak prophecies of science fiction writers. Tomorrow’s robots will be assistants who’ll support us, not adversaries who will conquer us.

Learn more about artificial intelligence in assessment.

About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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