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Robo-recruiting: How soon is it before the machines take over?

Robo-recruiting: How soon is it before the machines take over?

Are you capable of interviewing 1,500 job candidates in nine hours? What about making 10,000 phone calls, at the same time, to prospective candidates?

PepsiCo’s newest recruitment team hire can. Their robot, Vera, can scan CVs and chat with promising leads using advanced speech recognition software far faster than a human recruiter.

Natalya Sumbaeva, Talent Acquisition Manager for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, however, reassures that Vera’s not out to replace human recruiters, but instead, allow them more time to focus on more interesting aspects of work. However, that might be little comfort to flesh-and-blood recruiters as technology becomes increasingly capable of tackling those harder tasks, assuming more and more of their day job.

Should you be scared? Apparently not, Alex Khakbiz, CEO of Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software says. “Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not likely to ever completely replace the human aspect of the recruitment process,” he says. “Even if you are looking for a specific set of skills and experience for a role, it’s often the case that a candidate is selected based on personality traits and individual characteristics, or ‘presence’, as well as body language, in addition to their qualifications, experience, and whether or not they are likely to fit into the company culture.  

"These are factors which only a human can really evaluate, currently."


‘Currently’ might be the key word, though. The University of Cambridge recently showcased ‘Charles’, a device capable of reading human facial expressions, and Swedish firm Furhat Robotics have built a robot that can read and respond to social signals and gestures. Surely it is only a matter of time until products like this become widespread and cost-effective enough to work their way into recruitment.

However, Ed Sutcliffe, Director of Leeds-based marketing recruitment specialist MET Marketing, is confident that recruitment consultants will survive this onslaught of automation. “Robots are challenging all areas of the working environment so for recruiters it will be a case of evolving,” he said.

“We have had to deal with the advent of online advertising, LinkedIn and recruitment portals and survived - this is just another development we need to both embrace and compete with.”

So, while you may not have to worry about your next colleague being a computer just yet, it could be around the corner. For now, keep working on those social skills – that’s one metric Robot Vera can’t beat you on.