Recruiting automation is incredibly helpful. It can make finding the best talent quicker and more cost-effective by eliminating mundane, repetitive and time-consuming processes. But according to our recent research, robots won’t be replacing HR departments just yet.

Humans vs robots

The study, which explored the hybrid hiring era, found that while recruitment can’t go back to the analogue era,it can’t be fully digital either. 

Job seekers still depend on human interaction to determine a lot about a company. For example, a company’s culture can give them a better sense of how comfortable they’d feel in that environment – something that can only fully be experienced in person. In-house recruiters and hiring teams benefit from these connections too, picking up on nuances like a candidate’s potential, presence and ambition.

Our research found that last year, the role of the recruitment agency diminished, with many now reliant on job search apps, social media or referrals through friends to find new opportunities in the market. 

It revealed that only 24% of respondents applied for jobs directly through a recruiter. While a third (32%) of candidates prefer to search for jobs online, without human interaction, 50% of job seekers still prefer human interaction when looking for a job, rather than doing it all online. Many of those said the process felt dehumanised (45%). The main barrier for this group was that automation bases its criteria on past facts, not future potential (49%).

Applicants favoured contact with people, whether recruiters or hiring teams in-house, in face-to-face interviews (71%), on the phone (68%) or on a video (65%). At the other end of the scale, they were less important to the screening stage of the application experience. Automation was preferred in online tests (44%) and for right to work and criminal record checks, the preference between humans (43%) vs automation (33%) was much closer.

So how can hiring teams find the right balance?

Don’t leave important steps in the recruitment process up to robots. 

The promise of AI might need the guidance of experienced human HR teams to be fully effective. For example, Tesco uses several solutions including integrated assessments and automated processing to support its recruitment team. However, it’s their hiring team that puts reporting data into action, identifying areas of inefficiency and assuring recruitment process compliance. 

Have a clear idea of the use of automation 

How candidates view the application process will be reflected in how they think about the company and future opportunities. Take Coventry City Council as an example. They implemented a new system, balancing automation with human touch to tailor every application process to its specific needs. By introducing anonymous applications they increased BAME hires from 18% to 40%, and candidates rated the hiring experience as 9/10 in surveys. 

Finding the balance 

Asking candidates about what makes their experience more efficient and matching those solutions is an extremely effective solution. Serco did this and found that candidates were struggling to find vacancies in their organisation due to a lack of integration with social networks, which also made the application process difficult. New recruitment software helped them deliver a better candidate experience, while improved reporting helped Serco reduce agency spend and deliver internal efficiencies.

In return, effective recruitment software will help hiring teams find the right balance between tech and humans by establishing what works best for them. This will help set up fairer procedures and help them engage with a group of applicants of a much higher calibre – those that are prepared and ready to do good work.

While I doubt we’ll ever see robots taking over the HR department, there’s clearly benefits, not only just for the candidate but hiring teams too, when it comes to recruiting in the hybrid hiring era we’re now in.