Robot Recruiting – Are robots the recruiter of tomorrow?

Published on 26-04-2018

Thinking about robot recruiting makes us often picture the following scene: A human-like figure sits in front of its screen, tapping electronic fingers on a keyboard to, for instance, search for future talent. Don’t worry! This vision belongs to the field of science fiction. However, robot recruiting of another kind has already become a reality in the world of HR. But to what extent can people be replaced by machines? We had a look at current examples and studies to answer this question.

Robot Recruiting: Definition and Application

Robot recruiting describes a partially automated recruiting process, during which processes such as the assessment and selection of applicants are carried out by smart algorithms. By using software based on big data, the selection process, therefore, cannot only be speeded up but also optimized in several areas. For example, a recruiting strategy based on artificial intelligence and smart algorithms is often less biased.

Robot recruiting left the science fiction genre a while ago: Nowadays, more than 95% of all US companies already make use of robots. Algorithm-based recruiting is also gaining ground in Germany. For example, seven out of ten of the German top 1,000 companies say they are planning on integrating robotic programs into their processes.

The fields of application of robots – or AI-based software – are diverse:

  • Analyze CVs and cover letters
  • Planning of trial days and job interviews
  • Filter candidates based on their soft skills, educational background, expertise or work experience
  • Automatically list possible applications in applicant management systems
  • Instant answer to a candidates’ questions during the application process
  • And many more!

The benefits are crystal clear: Information does not need to be entered manually in spreadsheets, (human) errors can be avoided and everything goes generally much faster. The active sourcing of candidates in business networks such as XING or LinkedIn can also be automated. How? Algorithms simply search resume databases, social media channels and job portals for suitable talents. The recruiter only has to define the desired criteria in advance – the robot does the rest. Also, the cultural fit can be determined by such software solutions during the candidate’s orientation phase. New technologies, such as the CompanyMatch algorithm, allow candidates to match personal values and preferences with those of the employer of choice – without leaving the career website!

Chatbots: The Communication Experts

We’ve all met them before: you barely entered the website, a chat window pops up and an ’employee’ offers help or information. Those so-called chatbots are probably the best-known application of robot recruiting so far. The principle: The chatbot takes over simple communication tasks, such as answering administerial questions. This is a win for both sides: The recruiter saves an enormous amount of time and the candidate does not have to scroll through extensive FAQ lists. One of the biggest advantages of chatbots is that they are available 24/7. Whenever a candidate wants to ask a question, the chatbot is awake and ready to help. Can you already see the candidate experience and engagement rates going through the roof?

Disadvantages of Robot Recruiting

Like any other future trend, also robot recruiting has its downsides. According to the 2018 recruiting trend study from the University of Bamberg, 63% of job seekers prefer emails as an application channel, followed by online forms. The biggest fear is to be rejected or excluded from the algorithm because of small formal errors. In addition, despite artificial intelligence, robots do not come close to the capabilities of a human brain. Unexpected situations, outside the pre-programmed zone, are close to impossible to solve for the bot (for now). Also, the lack of empathy and feelings are clear disadvantages of such technologies.


Robot Vera. Source: Stafory

Robot Vera: The HR helper of Pepsi, L’Oréal & Co.

A current example of robot recruiting is the robot Vera, developed by a Russian start-up. The intelligent software of the robot is used, among other things, to make telephone interviews with job seekers or answer their questions about open positions. The robot recruiter is able to speak to 1,500 candidates in just nine hours – a human recruiter would need up to nine weeks.

But how does such a robotic job interview sound like? Vera calls a candidate and opens the conversation with ‘Hello, I’m Vera. I am a robot and I call on behalf of company X.’ Then, she asks the candidate if he/she is still interested in the position. If so, she gives a brief summary of the job and initiates a video interview using voice recognition software to ask and answer questions. Candidates who successfully master this interview will be forwarded to the company’s HR Manager, who will make the final decision. If Vera notices, however, that the candidate does not meet the specified requirements, she politely ends the conversation.

Vera’s clients include companies such as PepsiCo, IKEA, and L’Oréal. PepsiCo tested the robot last winter and found surprising results: 95% of the contestants perceived Vera as interesting, inspiring and great. Vera was used to calling 1,500 potential candidates. More than 400 were interested in the job offers, PepsiCo confirmed 52 and hired 15 of them. According to Natalya Sumbaeva, HR Manager for Russia, Vera’s successes are comparable to those of a human recruiter, but Vera can do it in a single working day.

Vera is available in 68 languages and is already being used in Europe, the US and the Middle East. The robot is currently undergoing an ‘emotion-training’. The goal: Vera should also recognize humor, sarcasm, and emotions during an interview.

Are robots the recruiter of the future?

Robots in recruiting have huge potential and, if used correctly, can accelerate the recruiting process enormously. In addition, the Candidate Experience can be drastically improved with the help of Chatbots and other intelligent software tools. Nevertheless, such technologies are still reaching their limits and do not always understand every single question and answer. Especially in important decisions, such as applying for a new job, candidates prefer to speak “human-to-human”. According to Sumbaeva, robots can help recruiters with routine tasks and less interesting parts of their jobs:

Instead of such tasks, HR professionals can spend their time supporting HR managers better, working with databases, making better assessments, and attending more training. -Natalya Sumbaeva, HR Manager PepsiCo Russland

In a nutshell, robots will save us a lot of time in the future. Time that we can use for other, more creative and complex tasks. Meaning, the “Human” in “Human Resources” will remain in the future!

Chatbots, social media, and corporate influencer – where is the place of corporate culture in an increasingly digital world like this? CompanyMatch published a White Paper on this topic, based on scientific research and current studies. To activate the free download please do fill out the form. 

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