Bill Gates put it well when he said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Many are quick to judge the technology itself for pitfalls, when in reality it is the companies who use the technology that make or break its success.
Let’s discuss some of the key drivers and drawbacks behind the arguments over implementing automated interviewing into a talent acquisition solution.
The real value behind incorporating automation into the interview process is savings in time and energy both for the company and the candidate, as well as the increase in the quality of hire by the ability to touch more applications in a shorter amount of time to get to the best fit for each position.
“When you consider the time spent scheduling, preparing for, and conducting the traditional phone interview; the average length is about 30 minutes. What our customer data tells us is that the answers to the questions that are actually used to predict job performance average only 7 minutes. This means a customer could be conducting 8 [automated] phone interviews in an hour instead of [the traditional] 2 and make the same if not better hiring decisions,” states Bill Meidell, Director of Sales for RIVS.
While the process may be a bit foreign to applicants, at first, it allows candidates the freedom to respond to parts of the interview process when they feel best suited to, as well as taking out much of the frustration of the recruitment cycle such as cold calls from recruiters. An automated process also gives them more control of their first impression with employers by having a little more time to think and respond to questions without the pressure of directly interacting with a company representative.
And for employers, let’s face it, not all positions require a thorough face to face interview. For high volume, entry level positions, often a very rudimentary scan of a candidate is enough to know whether they can meet the requirements of the position.
Many naysayers will cite the costs of adding automation to the interview cycle as being too high, whether their pain threshold for cost per hire is $50 or $600.
In reality, critics are most likely not calculating their true current cost per hire. If they were, they might be astonished at the money and time they could be saving.
Every person you have spending time interviewing candidates cost you money. Multiply their hourly wage by the time they spend during each step of the process and then compare that to the cost of per hire in an automated process and see which side comes out on top.
Additionally, automation saves money for candidates and companies by reducing travel costs associated with certain rounds of interviewing that can now be done remotely.
While some may argue that older generations may be skeptical or more nervous about automated interviewing or video interviewing, the reality is there are always skeptics of any new trend. And, age is not the biggest skeptic of automation.
Most people realize to stay competitive you have to stay abreast of technology and trends. Younger generations have already grown up in an age of automation and many of the technologies feel familiar to them. Older generations know how to adapt and get comfortable with trends.
After all, if my mother can learn Facebook and FaceTimes with her grandchildren, she could acclimate to an automated interview process if she had to. (No offense, mom, regarding your skills or age if you’re reading this.)
Automation also clears up a lot of miscommunication that can happen between candidates and companies with phone tag, missed calls, email exchanges, and the like.
Companies have more control over the steps in the process and can more clearly manage their applicant pools, while more candidates are getting touched and communicated with, even if it is an automated response, which provides them insights to where they are in the process, rather than being stuck in a black hole of no communication.
Some detractors, especially from the candidate side, claim that automation leads to an impersonal recruitment cycle, taking the ‘human’ aspect out of human resources.
I can certainly see their point and why they may feel this way, however like Bill Gates quote regarding efficiency in business, it’s likely that systems already void of human engagement will continue that way and those that regard it will find ways to incorporate it to continue to make their recruitment process engaging for candidates.
Some companies choose to incorporate videos or personal messages throughout the process. For other companies, the mere process of having a software to respond to candidate applications and inform them of where they are in the process is more engagement than candidates may have readily seen before. And, the sky is the limit as to how organizations will find creative ways to adapt the automation process to attract applicants as it becomes a more popular standard in the industry.
On the back end, since more applications are able to be processed, it’s likely that more candidates will get a fair chance at the job rather than being stuck in a pile of never seen resumes after a recruiter succumbs to review fatigue.
What’s more personal than actually knowing someone touched your application and at least considered you for the position, even if you get an automated declination. To know or not know, that is the job seeker’s dilemma.
And, for candidates actually making it to a face to face interview, they are often getting to speak with real live company representatives much quicker than they would in a traditional process where it can take longer to filter applications.
If you’ve already got a current system in place that works for your organization great. No need re-inventing the wheel right? But, what about a faster, more efficient wheel, perhaps in an array of colors?
Whatever your current system, there’s a technology provider out there to suit your needs, and most integrate well into current ATS systems or have their own built-in.
Automation also helps fend off potential discrimination suits since everyone goes through the same process and channels throughout the recruitment cycle. Even the EEOC has come to the conclusion that technology doesn’t discriminate, people do, so there is no need to fear the rumors that automating phone or video interviews can open you up to more claims.
Think about where automation might be able to improve current problem areas: Do you work with a large pools of international applicants? Automation can help you quickly assess communication skills in a shorter amount of time without having the associated travel costs and time commitments.
Do you have high candidate volumes and not enough man power to respond to them all? Automation can help solve that.
Are your current times to fill positions leaving your business lagging? Automation can help you get to a quality hire faster and potentially cheaper to keep your business running smoothly.
Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but whether you’re a fan or not of automation in the interview process, it’s a trend that’s here to stay, at least for the foreseen future. There is no one size fits all solution but there are hundreds of providers out there waiting to improve your process and many solutions that can be implemented in-house as well.
If you don’t like it, find ways to adapt it to your tastes and make it work for you. In the ‘war for talent’ that we seem to inevitably always be facing, companies have to stay competitive. There is extreme value in finding ways to get to a better quality hire, faster, cheaper. And all can be achieved through incorporating automation into your talent acquisition strategy.
And, if you can take your savings and add it to your business’s bottom line and help your organization thrive and grow, that means more jobs and more hiring–a cycle everyone should be able to get behind.
Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.