Ethical Hiring

There is an adage ” If you are an experienced professional, it is whom you know and not what you know that lands you a job”. I have got friends who had worked with me in yesteryears who have more belief in me than myself on me. Interestingly such good buddies do refer me to interesting opportunities that they feel I would fit in(sometimes I may not have that confidence honestly), mostly due to my soft skills and leadership skills.
But the way most of the hiring works at the senior level is someone gets selected and then the job gets advertised to fill statistics unfortunately. And the highest filter takes place at the recruiter’s end (wrongfully called as ‘talent’ acquisition folks) – and these filters do not have a clue most of the time as to what the job really entails, but they send their pre-selected lists to the hiring manager who disposes off the profiles accordingly.
When these recruiters call, first you can very well say that after 10 minutes into the conversation, they are just having a small talk because it came through a ‘referral’ internally that they cannot bypass. They seem to be so disinterested in listening to you. After the usual few minutes, as you know, they would close the call with “we will get back to you”. Then nothing happens.
For senior roles, you need to check what the candidate brings in to the table and what value he adds rather than fitting exactly to the description and ticking the skills against the profile. Have a holistic view – you can still reject on some mandated criteria
I had a certain experience recently of an interesting opportunity that this head recruiter calls because someone internally had pushed my profile. I was on a vaccination week for my mom and myself and I had informed I would be available the next day at a particular time. He agrees, no call comes, I followed up and no response comes and two weeks later, I called up my referral to see what is happening and the referral tells me that the head recruiter had called me many times and sent many messages and no response came from my end and hence he had informed that I was not interested. No calls or messages ever happened. Such is the ethics. Do I even want to trust this company anymore? Usually such behavioral pattern gets established by the senior team and this trickles down. The message this recruiter just gave me is to avoid this company at any cost. If this is the experience I have now, even if something positive happens, I would not trust anything that they would say – this speaks a lot about the company and its management itself.
We keep having such discussions with my ex colleagues, and almost everyone have the same experience many times over. Best hiring takes place when the actual hiring manager and his team filters the candidates and chooses whom to call and not have recruiters send him the profiles that they select – yes, the volumes would be high but your people are good investment if you are serious.

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.