There’s still room for ‘tradition’ in recruitment (even in Covid times)

Posted 24th Nov 2020

In recent posts I've discussed the significant impact that robots and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) will have on the modern worker and the ways in which AI technology has already started to assist, support, and in some cases replace humans. Now, as I've done befor. I'd like to do and about-face and talk a little about why tradition (in a couple of forms at least) is still vital to the recruitment process, to being a good recruiter and to helping job seekers secure new positions and businesses to secure the services of people they require...and even in these unprecedented times when 'human contact' is limited much of the time.


Meeting clients and potential customers has always been an essential part of a recruiter’s journey from winning new business through to subsequently, successfully, sourcing the right candidates. Getting to meet the person that’s hiring, understanding their needs and requirements, and garnering a good appreciation of who might be the best fit for the work environment helps everyone involved immensely. These meetings are even more important if you’re a hirer working with a recruiter for the first time. It allows the recruiter to not only discuss your requirement with you in detail, it also affords him or her an insight that in turn aids in positively promoting your company, its offices / location, its atmosphere, its culture / team fit and everything else that may matter to a candidate ultimately choosing whether or not to accept a job offer from you. Onsite meetings right now are, in many cases, not possible, but virtual meetings are a great alternative of course and can even allow a tour of premises.

Face-to-face Interviews...

Pre-screening is of course one of the most important steps to helping us all either secure the right talent for our organization or that new coveted position, or even career opportunity. Video conference based interviewing has undoubtedly become a huge time-saver and enabler (for remotely based job seekers), but a face-to-face meeting is still impossible to beat. For hirers and recruiters it not only allows one to probe the background and abilities of a given applicant, it also reveals more of that individual’s character, from body language, eye contact and some of those involuntary movements we all make without realising in moments of stress. For the job seeker, it’s usually a firm opportunity to see your potential working environment, and in turn, interview your potential employer. Again, and due to the current pandemic, this is generally avoided, but Zoom and other similar virtual meeting tools provide the next best thing and until such times it's safe to begin face to face interviewing again.

What the robots cannot do...

Robots and AI cannot form bonds with people, they can’t assess a persons’ body language or overall demeanor and they certainly don’t advise, coach or just listen. Robots cannot take the measure of a person by shaking their hand (nor should you right now I guess) or looking them in the eye (we suggest that these are not used as definitive assessments in the recruitment process), and artificial intelligence cannot use intuition, developed over decades, based on years of working experience and experience interacting with other humans.

As discussed in previous articles, AI and other robots will be able to do a considerable amount of the work currently undertaken by humans, but there are some elements of the recruiter’s job that will never be replaced. At the end of the day we relish the opportunity to ‘press the flesh’ so to speak (if and when we can again), look people in the eye and just talk with them. Recruitment may be barreling towards the future, but AI will never be able to replace the human element.

Photo by Tim Gouw @ Punttim

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