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Will AI replace the specialist recruiter?

Posted: 31 Mar 2022

Will AI replace the specialist recruiter?

Despite the hype, the artificial intelligence tools used in recruitment are often clunky. Our Principal Consultant Stephen Daly discusses AI and if they really can replace the specialist recruiter.

The chances are if you applied for a job online in the last few years, you may have encountered artificial intelligence tools. Typically, these tools aim to do things like speed up the process of reviewing applications, particularly where there are high volumes of applications for certain types of roles. You may have come across game-based candidate assessments or had your speech and behaviour patterns analysed in a video interview. But how effective are these tools, and will they eventually replace specialist recruiters?

Conversational AI in recruitment

One of the most common AI tools currently in use is conversational AI or chatbots. This tries to communicate like a human by recognising text or speech and responding appropriately. In the hiring process, it can be used for certain types of administrative tasks such as scheduling interviews or filtering out candidates who don’t meet the criteria for the role in question. Where it may be less successful is when it is used to try to build a relationship with candidates, for example by answering candidates’ questions.

“As anyone who has tried to have a meaningful conversation with a chatbot will tell you, more often than not it’s a frustrating experience. Unless the chatbot directs your enquiry to a human who can answer your questions, chances are that it will damage your impression of a company,” says Eolas Recruitment’s Principal Consultant Stephen Daly.

Bias when using AI in the hiring process

Another problem with using artificial intelligence in recruitment is the fact that AI is not immune from bias. This can have potentially serious repercussions for candidates and employers, says Stephen.

A CNBC story, which explains how AI cannot remove risks of bias in the hiring process, quotes Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University, and founder of Google’s Open Research group, who said:

“In the case of systems meant to automate candidate search and hiring, we need to ask ourselves: What assumptions about worth, ability and potential do these systems reflect and reproduce? Who was at the table when these assumptions were encoded?”

“The bias problem in AI isn’t unique in the IT sector, it’s a universal concern,” says Stephen.

At the time of writing, a quick Google search on “artificial intelligence bias” which returned 62,200,000 results in less than a minute suggests he’s right!

Legal and ethical issues

Legal and ethical issues are another concern when it comes to using artificial intelligence in recruitment.

“Candidates can lose out on career opportunities while employers can be sued if there is evidence that their hiring process discriminated against candidates on grounds like gender or race,” explains Stephen.

There are also concerns about privacy, says Stephen, citing a recent HBR article which discusses these concerns.

In the article, authors Ben Dattner, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Richard Buchband, and Lucinda Schettle, point out that AI tools put “unprecedented power in the hands of organisations to pursue data-based human capital decisions”.

“Many of these tools have emerged as technological innovations, rather than from scientifically derived methods or research programs. As a result, it is not always clear what they assess, whether their underlying hypotheses are valid, or why they may be expected to predict job candidates’ performance,” the HBR article authors add.

In January 2021, PredictiveHire, an Australian technology company that has pioneered transparent AI-assisted hiring solutions, announced the global release of a framework to educate HR executives in assessing AI technology for use in their organisations. The framework aims “to begin conversations around transparency in HR technology against an explosion of AI solutions in the sector,” according to their press release.

“The absence of any form of accreditation of vendors, and the fact that regulation is light years behind tech innovation, has meant a lack of collaboration among vendors to champion AI ethics in the sector, something PredictiveHire hopes to help change,” the press release stated.

Will AI replace recruiters?

While there are clearly opportunities for technologies like AI and predictive analytics to enhance the hiring process for some types of roles, it seems unlikely that advanced technologies will replace specialist recruiters any time soon in sectors where there is strong demand for scarce technical skills.

Even at entry level, where the hiring process often begins at graduate events, candidates value the insights of recruiters. Research by the UK Institute of Student Employers found that jobseekers want to understand how the recruitment process works, what it is like to work in an organisation and what opportunities will open up for them over time.

“Recruitment is about two people developing an understanding of each other’s ambition and requirements. Trying to get a computer to do this in any kind of meaningful way is still science fiction,” says Stephen.

“It’s literally light years away.”

Building relationships

With a track record supporting companies and placing candidates in IT roles for more than 20 years, the Eolas Recruitment team have helped a lot of people move from entry level roles right up to management team level.

“What we’ve learned from that is that we have become really good at listening to candidates and understanding their career development plans so we are able to steer them to the right opportunities at the right time,” says Stephen.

“That’s something AI really can’t match. Many of the AI tools currently used in the hiring process are clunky and dysfunctional and more likely to put applicants off a company than get them excited about a future with a prospective employer. AI will never replace human interaction.”

Specialist recruiters

As candidates progress their career, building a sound relationship with a specialist IT recruiter is key, particularly when moving into senior roles.

“The best recruiters need to be good relationship builders and managers,” says Eolas Recruitment Managing Director Vincent Flynn, who is proud of the fact that Eolas Recruitment’s senior recruiters Peter Kirby and Stephen Daly have been working with him since he started the business in 2000.

“They are fantastic professionals who have a deep understanding and knowledge of the IT sector. Their experience and expertise are what makes us stand out from our competitors. It’s a huge advantage having such a mature team in place.”

For candidates, the benefit of working with a specialist recruiter like Eolas Recruitment is that they have a finger on the pulse of the IT sector.

“We often know about upcoming opportunities before they are advertised because of the relationships that we have built up with our client companies over time. Then there is the practical support we provide to help candidates tailor their applications whether that’s updating their Tech CV or preparing for an interview presentation. We also assist with salary and benefits negotiation and we provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates to help them prepare for the next opportunity that comes along. Companies and candidates really value these services and the support that they get from our team. You can see that reflected in the online reviews of Eolas Recruitment,” says Stephen.

To keep abreast of current opportunities in the IT sector, bookmark the Eolas Recruitment home page and check out our videos to learn more about how we work with companies and candidates. As always, our recruiters would be pleased to hear from you if you have questions about specific opportunities or are seeking to source candidates for IT roles. Contact us for details.

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