Why AI will never replace traditional recruitment

There are lots of mixed emotions around Artificial Intelligence. Some people are scared it will replace human jobs, whereas others see the enormous potential. Nonetheless, whatever people’s stances are on it everyone agrees that AI software is present everywhere.

Whilst the recruitment industry is growing, AI technology companies are seeking the opportunity to get involved. These new generation tech start-ups are using Artificial Intelligence software to try and disrupt this “people-centric” industry.

In the last few years we have seen a number of successful (and some less successful) software companies offering solutions that provide an “unbiased” or “more efficient” recruitment process. But could traditional recruitment as we know it, renowned for being such a personal and interactive industry, be replaced by robots?


New offerings

Recruitment is an industry which will always be indispensable – there will always be a need for hiring talent and placing people in best-fit roles. However, the way we recruit could see change with the introduction of AI.

Much of AI in recruitment is about sorting through data and automatising the recruitment process. Recruitment companies receive a vast number of CVs each day. On average, a job opening will attract over 250 applicants – and around 23 hours of Recruiter time to sieve through them.

To save time, tech companies are introducing new software that can ease this process and make it more efficient. These new systems are capable of sorting through every detail of an application and assessing potential candidate, without tiring out.

Others new software systems claim they have the solution to creating an unbiased process. A good example of this is Headstart. This recruitment app claims to match students from a range of backgrounds with opportunities at leading companies, using a series of contextual and predictive algorithms. According to the app, this process reduces natural human bias as it selects candidates purely on maths and facts, and not emotions.

However, this is debatable as it has been proven that machine-learning is influenced over time by human bias. AI technology adapts to regular patterns – over time it would recognise that a company has been employing a certain type of candidate, and would alter its algorithms to continue to look for that same type in future. This in turn makes the problem worse and can cause even bigger discrimination issues.

Also, another question to ask ourselves is can AI really replicate human common sense?


GDPR and security– a big hurdle for AI

A big development for AI and all digital systems is the soon-to-come introduction of new data protection laws.

Data automation in all industries has had a lot of bad publicity. So much so that from May 2018 new regulations are coming into place to protect data – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The idea is that these regulations will give people greater control over their privacy and personal information. This is worrying for the AI world as transparency has never been its forte.

Under the new laws candidates must give consent for their personal data to be collected and used. Personal data will no longer be easily accessible for AI softare to sift, which in turn will limit its potential.

Additionally, the GDPR states companies must clearly explain to candidates how their data will be used including “the existence of automated decision-making, and, at least in those cases, meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.”

Companies heavily reliant on AI software will struggle to explain their decisions to applicants, and especially those who have not been selected by the algorithms. We predict many will have to rethink their recruitment strategy in order to comply with GDPR. Those who don’t obey will face hefty fines.


Recruitment – a two-way process

More importantly, the reason AI will never replace traditional recruiting altogether is because AI will never completely be able to replicate humans or understand human emotions (at least not any time soon!)

The recruitment process is as much about selling a job to a potential candidate as it is finding the right person. A chosen candidate needs to make a decision on whether the role is for them, and in many cases, they may have to be reassured. They will have lots of questions and will need to trust the recruiter before taking any chances. This is an area where personal human interaction and sensitivity is absolutely vital, and no machine can replace that.


Over the next few years we will see some AI influence in the recruitment industry, but with GDPR coming into place there will inevitably be limitations. AI may help certain aspects of the recruitment process, but a machine will never be able to reassure candidates, decide whether someone will fit into a certain company culture, understand someone’s capabilities or fully grasp whether they are being genuine.

Posted in: Articles, General, News