Will AI ever replace HR?

I was reading an article in The Economist recently which in one swift paragraph made HR and all recruitment functions as obsolete and replaced them with Artificial Intelligent software. The basis of the argument was that (primarily) multi-nationals receive so many applications that they’re unable to manage them efficiently or fairly using the ‘old fashioned’ recruitment methods. Apparently this merely creates an undiversified workforce since Management tends to recruit candidates who by and large resemble themselves!

The article quoted as corporate examples a number of global behemoths that each receive well over 1 million candidate applications a year, and at that sort of volume I’m not surprised that the human function fails to cope. The highlight of the problem caused by this volume is an average hire time of 42 days. I can’t speak for a high street agency but almost all search firms would have delivered well within that period. Equally, as a search firm that only occasionally advertises, any response to an advert would be a result.My experience of recruitment software is that far too often candidates are rejected on the basis of key words which are allied to a somewhat generic job description. The human element should be able to see beyond those and pick out the other more relevant expertise needed to fit the role.

Where I agree with some of the articles findings is that many of the new AI programmes are designed to build internal talent plans; after all how does a firm which employs nearly half a million people ensure that HR knows them all, their expertise and then devise career structures for them? AI should manage this and, as an added consequence, reduce staff turnover as those who have felt ignored would now be on the radar.

If AI can take away the mundane day to day element for many recruiters then the whole industry will be better off for it and this would then trickle through to client delivery.But, and here’s the important thing, AI can’t replace the human touch. In over twenty years I’ve read some great CV’s only to be hugely disappointed by the candidate and I’ve also had appointed a number of candidates who in no way matched elements of the original job profile but were the right individual. People recruit people, not bits of paper.