Artificial intelligence can never replace recruiters

Recently, we have seen articles with so-called “experts” claiming that recruiters are in danger of being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).

Modern technology is certainly impressive. Today’s applicant-tracking systems have algorithms that can process information such as each candidate’s experience and skills and automatically rank members of the job pool according to how well respective resumes match the job description. 

AI can create a complete personality profile for each candidate after gathering information on their prior employers and other public data, combined with answers to some very basic questions. AI can even conduct digitized interviews that evaluate the candidate’s speech patterns and facial expressions.

Even so, an impressive amount of data is only as good as how employers choose to utilize it. The human part of recruiting remains critical to making the right hire, even with the most up-to-date technology.

Someone has to read the data and evaluate it against the needs of the position and the culture of the company. While it’s simple to come up with keywords that attempt to reflect the culture of an organization, they are subjective. And, most people would probably choose descriptors that are more flattering than true.

Another reason is because data is relative. It helps to identify and initially screen candidates, and it creates a standardized process that removes any potential biases.

AI can support that process by decreasing recruiting costs, the time it takes to hire and turnover while improving employee performance. This is certainly helpful and at times even necessary, but it’s not sufficient for a thorough assessment.

For example, a candidate’s experience may be a perfect fit but it may not be reflected well in the resume. Or, perhaps the candidate took an assessment on a bad day, and the score received is not typical of their performance.

Only humans can see this nuance and possibly prevent losing an ideal candidate.

Many jobs require candidates to possess traits that cannot be determined by a resume or even an assessment. If the job requires a person to be compassionate, how is that determined based on a resume? 

Soft skills can only be determined by personal communication with a candidate. Recruiters have to look beyond qualifications to find character traits such as passion, attitude and personality.

Finally, relationships with candidates are critical. Recruiters are integral to this aspect of the process, learning what potential employees desire in their next role and what it will take to hire them.

Humans are complex and emotional, and their decision-making is complicated. No machine is going to help negotiate with a candidate to move to a company or uncover any hesitations in accepting an offer. It may take some persuading and a bit of dealing to make a hire happen for both parties.

As long as companies are hiring humans, humans will be required to manage the process. AI can maximize the candidate pool, minimize costs per hire, decrease turnover and create a standardized process, but it cannot shake the hands of new hires and welcome them to the team.

Kristin Lockhart is vice president of Recruiting Services at Memphis-based Adams Keegan.

This article originally appeared in Memphis Business Journal.