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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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AI is taking the tedium out of recruitment

Chatbots can now manage applicant profiles and organise interviews.

When recruitment firm Randstad Hong Kong invested in the AI chatbot Wade & Wendy through its Randstad Innovation Fund this year, the goal that they had in mind was to eliminate the time consuming administrative components of recruitment. Randstad is currently piloting programmes that automate some of the recruitment processes in its operations in Hong Kong.

"The future of recruitment will be a perfect marriage of technology with the human touch," said Natellie Sun, managing director at Randstad Hong Kong.

"AI will take on a crucial role in the automation of simpler tedious tasks as managing applicant profiles, processing applications and organising interviews. At the end of the day, AI will be assisting with basic decision-making to improve the productivity of individuals within the recruitment business," she noted.

Wade is a chatbot that serves as a personal career guide and offers career advice based on a jobseeker’s skills. Meanwhile, Wendy is an AI chatbot recruiter that joins hiring teams to automate many of their top-of-the-funnel recruiting efforts. Drew Austin, CEO of Wade & Wendy, reckoned that the response to the chatbot has been positive in spite of fears that AI will make recruitment professionals obsolete.

“As organisations become increasingly comfortable with bringing AI into the workplace, we’ll see a huge reliance on chatbots to automate many repetitive tasks. People will have more bandwidth to do the more human and cognitive intensive tasks,” he said.

Another firm embracing such a technology leap is recruitment agency Hays where Natural Language Generation (NLG) AI is utilised. From piles of resumes, NLG outlines the best fit for the role at hand, freeing the recruiter of tasks like pouring over a wider pool of applicants who may not be suitable. The company has also enlisted the help of an external organisation with expertise in the area to ensure this relatively novel approach delivers on its promise.

“The early signs are that it works,” said Alistair Cox, chief executive officer at Hays. "This platform has certainly accelerated the shortlisting process for us. It also enables our recruitment consultants to concentrate on assessing the individual candidates outlined by the technology to be the best fit for the role in hand, rather than pouring over a wider pool of hundreds of thousands who may not be suitable," he added.

Need for human touch
Randstad’s Sun reckoned that because of its potential, AI has been attracting growing interest and has penetrated the radars of corporate recruiters, based on the company's latest Employer Brand Research report.

But she said that AI in recruitment is in its "very early" stages in Hong Kong. Organisations in larger overseas markets will likely take the lead in adoption, which will then spread to Hong Kong and other Asian businesses.

Human resource consulting firm Robert Half Hong Kong echoed that AI provides immense value, particularly in accelerating the recruitment process and finding better-suited candidates. The company has been investing on AI and improving its intelligent matching algorithms by feeding the placement experience it has accumulated in nearly 70 years as well as newly implemented machine learning processes.

Adam Johnston, managing director at Robert Half Hong Kong, said the boons of AI make its adoption a must for firms who wish to remain competitive, but a complete machine takeover of the industry remains an unfounded fear. “Whilst AI is a powerful tool to find and identify potential candidates with particular skills, it doesn’t cover the entire hiring process,” he said. “Assessing the attitude in the interview and corporate culture fit, negotiating remuneration, and persuading candidates to accept a job offer are all examples of where human interaction and judgement are crucial,” he said.

Johnston further elaborated that this “human element” is and will remain crucial to find and hire the right talent for every job. Recruitment will always have a personal aspect linked to it which is what AI cannot replace it, just complement. 

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