AI: A redundant human workforce in the recruitment sector?

This is a guest blog by Olly Dunn, a final year Business & Management undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University.

As I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day I came across a video showcasing a self-driving bulldozer that digs trenches based on job plans. As cool (and scary) as it is to see how far technology has developed, it got me thinking about to what extent robotics, and AI in particular, could replace the human worker, and whether the ‘human touch’ could ever be taken out of the recruitment process completely.

AI, or machine learning and robotics are becoming an ever more integrated phenomenon in a multitude of sectors. Amazon is one example of a company ahead of the game, from its fully automated warehouses, to Alexa as your new personal assistant, to intelligent algorithms analysing your buying patterns for future purchase suggestions, the brand’s use of technology is everything AI was intended to be and is working wonders for the logistics giant.

Is this as easily applied to the recruitment sector?

AI may indeed be welcomed with open arms by firms, but there is a somewhat bitter irony to the idea that machines could replace human workers in a sector that is all about people.

It is true that AI is already lending a helping hand to the recruitment process with computer programmes offering more speed and accuracy than ever before. They can easily match the perfect candidate on paper to the job role based on hard skills, qualifications and experience, particularly for volume requirements. This is imperative for businesses as hiring the wrong person can not only be costly from a financial perspective, but also in terms of the ongoing success of daily operations.

But for more senior roles or those requiring softer skills, it’s the very idea of the perfect candidate on paper that is the issue. What AI fails to take into consideration is skills such as negotiating, people management, or how candidates will fit in with the hiring company’s ethos culture and current workforce. Personality, ambition and emotional intelligence are just as important within the recruitment process as fundamental skills are.

And what about when AI gets it really wrong?

It’s important to remember that these programmes are ultimately coded by humans, so they can only follow or learn from the algorithms that have been set. One disastrous example was the use of AI by a US court for risk assessment which turned racist and wrongly flagged twice as many black prisoners than white as likely to reoffend.

Despite this anomaly, it is clear to see that AI is helping a broad spectrum of industries positively and the recruitment sector is now continually smoothing and automating some of its processes. Yet, the ‘human touch’ is still as important now in recruitment and is never going to be made completely redundant; safe to say Sonny from ‘I, Robot’ isn’t going to be your next interviewer anytime soon.

To read our client coverage on this topic click here, where Ann Swain of APSCo further discusses why AI won’t mark the end of human recruiters.

 

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