Can AI and Automation replace recruiters?

Are recruiters going to be replaced by AI and Automation? This is the question that has many posts now. Let me dig into a ‘rather -simplified’ process of recruiting before we can address this, I sure this is not as simple as this sounds though:

– sourcing is the first and critical part: this would include searching external databases and social sites for suitable candidates according to the requirements, weeding off unqualified candidates, ranking and giving prelim rating for the candidates

– coordinating interviews and any work assignments and tests that needs to be given for details technical fitment

– most important is the negotiating part with the candidate and influencing them to take the offer made, and to on board the candidate

When you look at it, the first step of sourcing and the tasks underneath it can all be automated and AI tools with good search engines with high accuracy can be used to get the top 10 candidates that would be the greatest fit for any particular requirements from the available database. One can easily automate the receipt of applications as well to go into the database through a proper document management system with adequate meta-tags. The issue is most of the large companies have made talent acquisition as a manufacturing process unfortunately with little human interfacing with the candidates before and during on-boarding and recruiters do not come with a ‘recruiting’ degree – still no college offers such programs. This step in the recruitment process has a strong probability of being lost through automation in my opinion in couple of years.

As for the second coordinating role, I feel even though the tests and assignments can be automated for particular job codes and some companies do the first level of interviews through audio and video bots, this step in the process cannot be replaced completely. But I feel technical hiring managers and the hiring team would mandate to talk with the candidates directly or through video conferences to get a feel of the chemistry of fitment. So, this responsibility of the recruiter, although can be automated, may not go that way as this would mean no human touch at all in the recruiting process.

And lasting the negotiating and influencing part would remain with the recruiter as this is where they give their return of investment (“Worth”) to the companies through their soft skills and situational leadership attributes. Good recruiters whom you see would be the one who close a candidate properly within budget and timeline and this is a skill that I believe AI cannot replace (or rather should not). It is more about the proper usage of your social skills that converts a candidate into an employee.

Having given a quick spin on what goes around with recruitment and AI and automation, I certainly feel the number of recruiters that would be needed would be lesser in years to come and these would be the cream of the available pool. I always believe that if you have to dig for gold, you need to go deep and mine for it and no automation can give an optimum result here unless there is a human element interacting with the candidates. But given a likely Post COVID situation though, where we would see more working-from-home employees who later would turn into ‘skill-based Just-In-time contractors’ needed for that particular job, less and less human interaction would take place for establishing an employee-organization relationship as the cultural fabric established through interactive across-the-hallway connects would all be things of the past – I hope this is wishful thinking but still worth analysing further and introspecting as to how the future workforce would actually look like if there is no physical office to go to and how recruitment as a role would have to morph to newer realities.

We are Business Intellects, a remote/virtual consulting, training audit and recruitment firm based out of Bengaluru, India.