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AI – The first real threat to recruitment?

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Recruiters have heard it all before; The internet, the emergence of the job board, LinkedIn, and Facebook were all technological milestones that were destined to kill the staffing agency industry. They failed.

A new, fiercer adversary has emerged, one that is more intelligent, efficient, dedicated, tireless, cost effective and ultimately; some say, the first real threat to the existence of the recruitment agent as we know it.

According to a survey of talent acquisition leaders, 56% say their hiring volume will increase this year, but 66% of recruiting teams will either stay the same size or contract. This means that recruiters are being tasked to do more with less.


Screening résumés efficiently and time-effectively remains the biggest challenge in talent acquisition: 52% of talent acquisition leaders say the hardest part of recruitment is identifying the right candidates from a large pool of applicant CVs.

While recruitment agencies add a level of screening to reduce their client’s workload of sifting through and screening of candidates (and they do a great job) to some degree, they add to the problem by offering up the CV as the product of their screening to their client.

The CV (first created professionally by Leonardo de Vinci in 1482) was formalised as the norm in the 1950’s; it has continued to be the favoured promotional vehicle for candidates and the recruiters who represent them for more than 60 years. It is an antiquated and inefficient form of candidate presentation that offers no insight into the candidates’ personality, aptitude, cultural fit, or team fit.

AI and machine learning businesses are capitalising on the fact that the staffing agency work flow has not changed or improved since the emergence of the internet. AI bots are becoming more intelligent and efficient in finding the same, if not better; CV’s that the staffing agent does for a tiny fraction of the price.

38% of companies believe that AI and machine learning robotics will be fully implemented into their company within five years to combat the matching of suitable candidates from a large applicant pool.

What can staffing agencies do to combat this level of competition?

The way I see it, there are three main routes that a recruitment agency can take to try and contend with this level of competition.

  • Hire more technical staff or up-skill current staff to raise the level of screening.
  • Embed themselves in the culture of the organisation to truly understand what the “right fit” is (can a robot do this?) The RPO’s are already doing this to some degree.
  • A more scalable option would be to provide a better form of candidate presentation to give their clients a much more informed decision on who to interview.

Hinterview launched because we identified the boom in the “Retech” industry. An industry with aspirations to mirror what Uber had done within the taxi industry and Amazon within the retail industry, companies creating products to automate the recruitment process to cut the agent out. We wanted to offer agents a product to combat this threat, to enable them to provide a better service or highlight and amplify an existing excellent service already offered.

For so long now, differentiation in recruitment has fallen at the feet of the individuals or the teams of great consultants that an agency employs. Some reports state that there were 8000 new agencies that launched in the U.K. last year alone so you can no longer rely on your team to be a sufficient USP, that’s what every other agency will be trying to do. We wanted to help recruitment agencies diversify by offering a slightly different recruitment experience.


AI bots will scan a CV and select the most suitable based on a set of buzz words, is this black and white CV going to be the best possible candidate that you can find or just an applicant that understands which key terms you’ll be looking for?

Transparency and in-depth analysis will be vital components in the battle against AI, so is your business ready to enter into the arena?

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