I recently read an article in the Times – you can read it here – if you have a subscription. If you don’t, it’s basically questioning the usefulness of those online ratings systems that you find on TripAdvisor and Glassdoor and the like.

Of course those review systems can be useful, but you have to go in with your eyes open. Take Glassdoor, for example. Who is writing those reviews? Call me cynical but I’d say there are two major constituencies: disgruntled people who’ve been fired or made redundant and are looking for revenge, and hiring managers and HR people trying to redress the balance. There might be a few employees who are so pleased with their jobs that they overflow about them online…but I would imagine they are scarce. And anyway, how do you know who they are?

So you read the Glassdoor review, and you try to read between the lines, and you use your discretion, and you take a view.

And that’s really the point of this short blog. Tools are good, but you need a bit of human intuition.

Stop there if you like but if you’re still reading, I’m really talking about the rise of AI and its use in recruiting. Tools exist which will parse CVs, score them against requirements, make decisions based on the results. For very large companies trying to process huge numbers of applications that must be a useful thing.

But there comes a point where artificial intelligence is….artificial. Because hiring people is about people. There comes a point where you need to read a CV, talk to the person, and think: well, her experience is slightly left field but it will map quite nicely across if we think laterally. Or – this person has every technical skill we could hope for, but his approach to work is likely to cause havoc in our team.

At Vocative we don’t use automated decision making at all. That’s not because it can’t be useful, and it’s not some high minded principle; in the right situation, we’d use it without hesitation. No. It’s mostly because we’re small, and we’re in a part of the market where reading every CV and talking to most candidates is not just desirable, it’s necessary, and it’s a USP. We’re not thinning out vast candidate pools, we’re headhunting.

But it is also because we place a higher value on intuition and experience and human interaction than we do on key words and CV parsing and automation. Because recruitment is one part of the business world where people really are at the centre. You might be the greatest candidate in the world but if you can’t get on with your manager there will be friction. And, apart from getting to know people and understanding how they tick, there’s no way to know if that’s likely.

We’re looking, on behalf of people, for people. The skills are just the start. So as AI grows in prominence in the recruitment market, I for one hope that it remains in its place: a tool, a useful tool, but something which only provides information to assist the humans in their thought process.

At Vocative Consulting, we work alongside companies to help them find the very best IT hires for critical roles – we believe recruitment is an art, not just a science.

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