The future of recruitment: AI will assist rather than replace hiring teams

International experts and local HR leaders share their views on the evolution of recruitment.

There is a serious step-change taking place in talent acquisition, with advancing AI technologies making their mark on the recruitment landscape.

During a CHRO SA webinar, sponsored by TalentSmith Technology, experts discussed The Big Question: Is AI the future of recruitment?
International speaker Walter Hueber, CEO of Cammio Video Recruitment, presented the current job trends, with a focus on how super teams are shaping the workforce.

“Towards 2025, the highest growth in automation is expected to happen in how we look for and receive job-related information. The recruiter as a telemarketer type of role will move to the recruiter as a therapist type of role,” he said.

This means that the administrative and repetitive aspects of recruitment, like pre-screening and scheduling interviews, will be done by machines, while the human value will be in critical thinking and analysis as well as a more creative approach to problem solving.

“Superteams, which is a phrase coined by Deloitte, talks about the complementary nature of human and machine. It’s about how AI can assist rather than replace humans. Research now shows us that the top skills going into the future will be analytical thinking and complex problem solving. Creative thinking needs human capacity and intelligence,” he explained.

Automation, augmentation and autonomy
This research was backed up by a poll that ran during the webinar which showed that the majority of attendees prefer to use manual recruitment processes supported by AI.
This was an approach strongly supported by Walter, who noted that AI always has an error margin.

“All tech has an error margin, which is consistent. So, technology stands between you and your career in that sense. The manual error margin may be bigger, but it is random so candidates have a shot every time. This is why it’s good to always have human involvement and allows respect to be shown to candidates. This can be supported by machine-generated information,” he explained.

“There are three areas to consider when talking about automation, it’s about doing things more efficiently; augmentation of human capacity, followed by autonomy to support decision making,” he added.

Examples of automation in recruitment include self-scheduling interviews, with the computer finding a suitable time for all parties, creating a question set for multiple candidates, collecting data from video interviews and building a skills-based profile.
Heidi Kornmuller Head of HR, Coronation Fund Managers, noted that the old method of sifting through paper-based CVs, keeping hard copies on file and juggling calendars to schedule an interview was very labour intensive.

“Covid taught us that there is a lot we can do virtually and we have done it successfully. We have a huge number of applications and an automatic process with some non-negotiable criteria and strict screening questions assists with filtering. Like all systems, it’s a matter of what’s put in in terms of what you take out,” she said.

“Some people lie in screening questions, like all systems it’s a matter of what’s put in in terms of what you take out. I am cautious about making hiring decisions without meeting someone in person. We know that 93 percent of communication is non-verbal and I am also aware that we do not want to end up with clones. I also focus on transformation and there is the intangible culture fit aspect to also consider.

Culture is king and success is based on human potential,” she added.
Heidi believes that people need to learn how to work with systems, as it makes life easier and saves time, however, human skills like emotional intelligence, resilience, self-awareness and personal development are going to become more important in the workplace.

Elevating the experience
Ndivhu Nepfumbada, HR director for Africa at TransUnion, noted that machines can make processes more efficient so humans can focus on the more strategic aspects of hiring.

“Talent acquisition professionals understand the culture and bring in the human touch of understanding the work environment. When using AI, we must use it right. If we don’t, then we may lose opportunities to identify great talent for the company. A skilled talent acquisition professional can see that although a person may not have the qualifications and experience for a role, it is the type of person needed in the organisation and can be trained,” she said.

Jodylynne Blake, group lead talent acquisition: Absa Group, also highlighted that organisations should take macroeconomic factors locally as well as global access to talent into account.

“Talent management is asking us to think differently as an organisation. Unemployment is on the rise and we are inundated with candidates so AI can help to create more efficiencies in terms of screening. Talented people are also being headhunted, so companies can access our talent,” she said.

“I’m now recruiting senior members over virtual meetings and we need to elevate the candidate experience and lean on AI to help us with that to create engagement and connectivity as well as
feedback loops and mechanisms to refine and improve on what hiring experience has been like,” she added.