HR Indaba Africa 2019: The great recruitment debate 

Some of the brightest minds in talent acquisition locked horns on various recruitment ideas.

The right person, in the right place, at the right time is crucial to organisational performance. But how do you find the right people? Are tech platforms bound to make the role of the external recruiter redundant? Do candidates really want to engage with chatbots? These were just some of the questions posed to a powerful panel of recruitment experts at HR Indaba Africa 2019.

Lerato Semenya, managing executive of TalentCRU said she believed that technological change in recruitment is over-hyped. 

“We are already living in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and are only panicking about it because marketers have got hold of the term,” she commented.

That said, it’s no surprise that in-house talent managers and external recruiters have to adapt to succeed in today’s tidal wave of a digital process. While video interviews have been around for some time, advancements in AI and automation are able to streamline the hiring process, while also introducing some new pitfalls.

Jonnathan Koch, the CEO and founder at TalentGenie.co.za and TalentScraper.com, is behind tech solutions that promise to source talent in 10 minutes.  Nevertheless, even as a tech founder himself, he sees limitations to every tech application in recruitment. For example, he said candidates find chatbots tedious in the ‘attention economy’. 

“We’ve tested using chatbots early on in the hiring process where the chatbot asks questions and the candidate responds. We find that about 60 to 70 percent of the candidates drop off within 6 minutes,” he said.

Another pitfall that Jonnathan mentioned is that smart techie applicants are working out how to ‘game the system’ by working how to surface higher in search results.

Hiring from within, or seeking new talent?

Roland Glass, chief business officer at TalentSmith, said organisations should consider internal moves first, before seeking external talent. Their firm works to improve the candidate hiring experience and provides tech applications for internal talent teams and his view was that the most capable individuals, who already understand the culture, could very well be best placed to excel in a new capacity. 

“When it comes to internal mobility, people just think about upward mobility. Internal mobility is also about horizontal moves. For example, someone from an R&D background moving into sales,” said Roland.

By contrast, FNB Wealth and Investments head of talent acquisition Tshidi Khunou thinks there is a risk to relying solely on internal hiring because ‘drinking your own Kool-Aid’ is what led BlackBerry into obscurity. 

Said Tshidi: “Same ideas, same views. The words ‘we have always done it this way’ are a recipe for disaster. Organisations need to make space for people who ask the right questions,” 

In some instances, this means creating a new role for the right external candidate. For Lerato, looking outside the organisation for fresh views is not always successful. 

“The recruitment paradox is that people look outside for new skills, only to be attracted to people who are very like themselves,” she said. 

Will the tech giants make recruiters obsolete?

Tshidi believes that tech giants such as Google, LinkedIn and Apple could develop the capability to take over as complete recruitment solutions. But he questions whether they would have the appetite for this: “It is possible, but is their business in that? They sell data, but if they do everything, who do they sell the data to?”

Roland is convinced that there will always be a role for the external recruiter. But if recruiters are to survive the challenge of AI, they must embrace emotional intelligence.

He said: “The best recruiters develop relationships with candidates. Yes, technology will change the type of work that they do, but they’ll hold on to that critical last mile before a candidate becomes a new hire.”