In the hiring process, artificial intelligence only goes so far

Recruiting top talent is no small task, and many employers are turning to HR technology to help with the process. But despite the adoption of these tools, human interactions still remain indispensable, according to new research from talent solution firm Randstad Sourceright.

While technology is becoming significantly more popular in the HR space, the report found, leaders still prefer human interaction during critical moments in the hiring process. The survey of more than 800 human capital leaders found that 51% of recruiters prefer automation to find talent and conduct initial screenings. But when it comes to the interview process, most people prefer human interaction. The percentage favoring automation of interviews dips to 42%.

The big the difference is “the human piece,” says Jason Roberts, global head of technology and analytics at Randstad. “The recruiter can now communicate the brand and what’s exciting about the job.”

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Only 20% of the recruiters surveyed across 17 countries say a candidate database search should involve humans, while 27% think scheduling interviews needs to be handled by people. Similarly, only 19% favor human engagement to track HR data, as opposed to 28% who find it necessary to shortlist candidates by video interviews.

Roberts says these numbers reflect how artificial intelligence is enabling recruiters to comb through more resumes and respond to candidates in a timely fashion. This allows hiring managers to focus more of their efforts in engaging candidates on a personal level when it comes time to start interviewing.

“There has been an imbalance in the system for a long time,” Roberts says. “We just weren’t able to review the candidates. We now have matching and sorting bots that feel natural.”

This type of tech frees up time, allowing HR managers to focus more effort on the interview process, respondents said. The survey also revealed that U.S. employers are adopting HR tech at a very high rate, second only to Sweden. This comes at a time when the unemployment rate sits at 3.9% — the lowest it’s been in 18 years.

With the tight labor market, recruiters are having a hard time filling positions, so it’s no surprise they’re looking to adopt new strategies. Striking the right balance between automation and human interaction can empower recruiters to find qualified candidates, Roberts says.

For example, Roberts says, artificial intelligence can help hiring managers fill positions in areas where there is a skills gap, like an automaker looking to hire a software engineer. He explains that many automakers are desperately looking for engineers because cars now come fully equipped with software systems, but many engineers prefer big tech companies like Google and Facebook. In this case, automation can help recruiters target good candidates who may not even know they are hiring, he says.

A lack of communication and engagement on the part of a recruiter could result in a lost opportunity for a company, Roberts says. By utilizing automation, a hiring manager can spend more time engaging with promising candidates on a more personal level.

“The technology can make the recruiter more human,” he says.

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