The technology landscape in talent acquisition today can be overwhelming and almost everything in the hiring process can be automated these days. But is that what we want? Is that what the talent we seek wants? Taking advantage of today’s technologies to gain efficiency and productivity as well as, potentially, reduce cost may come with some unintended consequences. Achieving the right balance of tech and touch can be tricky.
I know of a handful of organizations who are highly interested in maximizing the technology play in hiring by including text-based screening questions, AI candidate ranking platforms, digital assessments, asynchronous (recorded) interviews, self-scheduling tools and other technologies intended to reduce recruiter burden and ‘speed up’ the hiring process. In some designs, there is no live interaction until the interview with the business.
The advantages of employing these automations are clear. In addition to the aforementioned time and cost benefits, companies can also enjoy scalability, heightened candidate quality, and standardization. But the sacrifices to this approach may not be as evident. Here are some thoughts about the potential downsides to a heavily automated hiring process:
- Candidate motivation: The willingness of applicants to endure round after round of automated evaluation tools is dubious. Certainly, there will be groups of highly motivated applicants who will complete anything that is asked of them, but common sense says that the potential for drop off will continually increase with each tech-enabled ‘ask’ that organizations make. With the scarcity of highly qualified talent today, this seems like a risk that few organizations can take.
- Candidate engagement: Competition for the best talent available requires talent acquisition personnel to present convincing evidence that their company is the best choice of employment for the talent they seek. Reducing (or eliminating) opportunities for recruiters to engage candidates and showcase the employment brand diminishes the ability to connect with candidates and provide a personalized experience. Additionally, candidates may feel like they have not been given the opportunity to fully demonstrate their qualifications for a position, especially soft skills.
- Candidate bias: Questions still pervade regarding the validity of digital evaluation tools, especially those which employ some form of artificial intelligence. These tools may perpetuate discriminatory hiring decisions through unfair disqualification of underrepresented populations. Additionally, with the rise of ‘skills-based hiring’, these automated decision tools are less equipped to effectively evaluate transferrable skills, which would broaden talent pools, in favor of traditional education and experience.
Every organization will need to balance the degree of tech and touch in their hiring process to effectively satisfy their unique demands for talent. And there are many variables to consider in achieving the correct blend including the function and level of position, hiring volumes, supply and demand, complexity of evaluation, and others. Certainly, data and expertise will need to be brought to bear to find the right solution to this issue.