Hi-Tech vs. Hi-Touch

A balancing act

No matter your line of business, in today’s competitive environment it is critical to drive efficiency into your operation.  In order to do so, many of us are looking for better ways to leverage technology.  Who can argue with the benefits of technology?  Technology tends to make us faster, tends to be more consistent and repeatable, allows us to process and analyze huge amounts of data, is cost effective, doesn’t get sick or take time off, doesn’t need to be retrained when a person leaves, and is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  The benefits seem endless.

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But just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should.  Who among us hasn’t become irritated when calling an automated support line, only wanting to talk to a human being, prior to hanging-up even more frustrated than before you dialed the phone.  There are times when we as consumers don’t want “speed and convenience” or technology, we want a human being!  In the world of talent acquisition, when a candidate “hangs-up”, we have a major problem.  As recruitment professionals, it is oftentimes easy to lose sight of the gravity of the decision we are asking people to make.  A candidate is being faced with a life changing decision – “where should I go to work?”  We as employers are trying to attract great talent, screen them for skill and cultural fit, all while delivering great service.  Technology alone is not enough.  We have learned, sometimes the hard way, that a balance must be struck.  Balancing the needs and experience of multiple stakeholders: the talent acquisition team, the hiring managers they serve, and most importantly the candidates they are trying to hire.  When looking at your own talent acquisition process, you too are going to have to make decisions around when you use technology and when to insert people. This tends to be even more critical when engineering hi-volume hiring systems.  The screening and selection process that takes place prior to submitting candidates to your hiring managers for on-site interview consideration is a key focus area. Let's discuss the lessons learned as it relates to this key area of the hiring process.

How can we optimize the need for speed, provide high quality service to hiring managers, deliver a great candidate experience, and be cost efficient? 

Technology has certainly helped to speed up the recruitment process and helped eliminate the “black hole of recruiting”.  Candidates can apply 24x7, applications and screening questionnaires are autoscored, responses are automated, etc.  In theory, a candidate can apply on-line, take an on-line assessment, record a video interview and be hired without ever talking to a live person and in the span of 24 hours.  But we do have to balance the benefits technology can provide, in particular around speed of process, while still providing the appropriate levels of human touch. 

When designing our selection processes, it is critical to look for opportunities to provide some human touch points.  First and foremost, if candidates are not comfortable with some of the technology or have specific questions, configure ways for them to connect with actual people.  Use of 800 numbers or providing direct access to recruiting professionals (at the appropriate point in the process) is important to think about when designing your system.  Look for ways to offer human touch points.  Optional ways for the frustrated consumer and required touch points so recruiters are having meaningful conversations with your potential future employees.  Even when using recorded interviewing tools, many times there is a need to ask follow-up questions.  Recruiters need to sometimes slow things down a bit in order to make sure the candidate actually fits.  Have we designed a system that allows them the opportunity to ask these additional questions?  Asking a couple of additional questions may take a little more time and perhaps cost a little more money, but how much time and money is wasted in having candidates come on-site for interviews who ultimately do not fit?

We are able to provide candidates incredible amounts of data to aid them in their decision:  video about the company, employee testimonials, job descriptions, company websites, realistic job previews, etc.  The reality is; they may not actually read the materials you have made available, even after they have been scheduled for an interview.  This is again a great opportunity to slow things down and spend some quality time with a candidate prior to coming on-site and spending time with your interview team.  Do candidates really know the position, the job requirements, and the organization?  Are they truly interested?  Do they know what to expect when they interview?  Some human touch here can not only save hiring managers’ time, but also help create a better candidate experience.  Every time we talk to a candidate, we are providing a look into our culture and how we treat our employees.  In addition, these touch points are providing us an opportunity to SELL.  Unless you have people lining up at your door waiting to work for you, incorporating “selling” into your hiring process is essential.  A recruiter who is passionate about your company and the positions they are recruiting for is a great way to sell.  Their positive attitude and demeanor goes a long way towards getting the candidates excited as well.

Technology can certainly help make our recruiters more efficient and process a larger volume of applicant traffic.  The reality is if we are not smart about our use of technology and the corresponding reduction in human touch, the money we save with increased efficiency in one area ends up costing us more in another.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • Candidates that are not properly prepared for interviews tend to not interview as well.  Interviewing can be a pretty stressful exercise for many people, and making them more comfortable and better prepared is a worthwhile investment of time.  Otherwise, we may miss out on an otherwise qualified candidate just because they didn’t interview well.  The result is more interviews, more time, and more money in order to meet our hiring requirements. 
  • Candidates that have not been properly “sold on the opportunity” oftentimes have higher no-show rates for interviews.  In addition, if they haven’t been sold throughout the process, they are more prone to exiting the process mid-stream and/or turning down offers.  None of those things are very positive and none save money. 
  • Candidates that have not been properly vetted and perhaps not asked those two or three follow-up questions drive up our interview to hire ratios.  We end up screening more candidates and hiring managers end up conducting more interviews - both which drives up cost.  

Having human intervention done right has a positive impact in all of these areas.  The interaction is facilitated and enabled with technology, but the technology should certainly not replace it.

If we are smart balancing the benefits of both high-tech and high-touch we can truly optimize our selection and hiring process and that is where the real cost savings lie.  We have a system that incorporates the benefits of technology while maintaining appropriate levels of human intervention to insure we are properly screening and selling along the way.  When making decisions regarding your own hiring process, make sure you are considering multiple perspectives – the recruiter, the hiring manager and most importantly, the candidate. The only way to consistently meet your organization’s hiring objectives is address all three.  Perhaps a “balancing act” discussion for another time.



Chadd Dehn

Chadd Dehn, the EVP at DreamJobs has worked in the human resources field with a focus on talent acquisition since 1996. During this time, he has consulted with clients from a wide spectrum of industries including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, banking and retail. Chadd has consistently helped clients improve their hiring systems as demonstrated by positively impacting cost per hire, time to fill, turnover, candidate quality and both candidate and hiring manager satisfaction.