Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Automation: the Future of Recruitment?

Automation is a powerful and essential recruitment tool, used across the entire process by the most forward-thinking employers, according to Samir Khelil, Head of Global Sales at WCN, the leading UK and Global e-Recruitment software provider

Automation is a powerful and essential recruitment tool, used across the entire process by the most forward-thinking employers, according to Samir Khelil, Head of Global Sales at WCN, the leading UK and Global e-Recruitment software provider.

The tide is turning. Automated screening and decision making was sometimes viewed as impersonal, generic and cold. Today, it is seen as an invaluable tool for volume recruiters dealing with ever growing numbers of candidates enabling them to focus their time and efforts on added value tasks. The bottom line is that incorporating the right level of automation into your recruitment processes delivers significant benefits, not least substantial cost savings.

Automated Benefits

Automation turns best practice into common practice. It provides structure, a consistency and fairness to recruitment activities and systems, rather than dehumanising the process, as its critics may have us believe.

Candidate experience cannot be neglected due to demanding schedules. The repercussions of having a poor candidate experience can resonate far beyond recruitment. For example, John Lewis Partnership, a WCN client for 13 years, views each potential applicant as a both an existing and future customer. The retail giant recently shared that they would expect to lose up to £4.8 million per annum without adopting a positive approach to candidate experience.

Automation can support great candidate experience in many ways, two of these being speed of the application process and candidate communication. Candidates are more demanding than ever before, so days when they would have settled for cumbersome and long applications are in the past. They now expect everything to happen much quicker. As such, they expect to know the outcome of the process far sooner. Marks and Spencer (M&S) understood this early on and designed a three stage application process which, on average, enables candidates to have an interview booked within 35 minutes of starting their application.

Communication is also key. Too often, due to large volumes of applications received, recruiters are not in a position to update candidates as quickly as they would like. Swift, personal and ongoing communication cannot be left to chance in any busy organisation. Too many candidates simply feel ignored and will go elsewhere. Automated tools enable applications to be progressed quickly and reliably, providing candidates with the quality service that they expect. A well written and personal email automatically generated by the e-Recruitment solution is always preferable to radio silence. Automation improves candidate engagement via immediate confirmation emails, plus the merging of candidate names and personal information into automatic responses, which can then be dispatched at key defined stages within the process. Applicants like to feel wanted. As such, personalisation plays a key role in retaining the top talent.

Automation not only allows organisations to stay in constant contact with potential hires, without unnecessary human interaction, it actually facilitates human interaction. It adds value through CRM tools and reminders, enabling recruiters to focus their time where it matters, prompting them to place a call to candidates at key stages, only as required.

Another benefit of automation is the screening. Cleverly designed processes enable various tools to be combined - realistic job previews, killer questions, calibrated talent sifts, asynchronous interviews - to enable recruiters to engage directly with candidates matching a particular profile. Once data has been gathered from applications, assessments and online interviews, automated systems search, sort, and filter candidates into tiers. The most qualified candidates for appropriate roles within the organisation are clearly identified. Recruiters and line managers no longer need to wade through piles of applications. Employers can immediately start at the top of the list based on the results of a series of unique organisational interview questions, not a generic and potentially off-target application form.

e-Recruitment systems incorporating automation save time and money around interview scheduling and assessment centres. The onus can be put back onto the candidate, making them responsible for booking their own interview slot. This approach considers the applicant’s personal situation, acknowledging that they might have commitments outside of the recruiting process. The next generation of online interview scheduling enables candidates to book assessment centres, as opposed to one to one interviews. Assessment centres can be a logistical nightmare, where candidates must be dispatched to a series of individual events during the day, requiring itineraries to be put together for both candidates and interviewers. Now within one click, candidates booking an assessment centre are assigned to a series of events, interviewers are informed, and itineraries are automatically generated. This technology enabled Blackrock to save ½ day in the organisation of each of their assessment centres!

One brilliant example of automation playing a major role in the volume recruitment market is M&S, who create between 35,000 and 40,000 job vacancies a year, receiving over 225,000 applications per annum. Automation facilitates the progression of each candidate, from start to finish, and the whole recruitment process can take just three days, from posting the job online to the new employee starting work. The bespoke WCN system allows M&S to have only two human ‘touch points’ during the entire process, posting the vacancy and meeting management for an assessment, saving both time and money. Enabling M&S to keep the candidate engaged throughout, which has proved successful as its candidate experience is rated at an incredible 98%.


Automation helps recruiters find the right candidates for the right roles. It removes human error and bias, whilst encouraging human interaction when appropriate and necessary. Those organisations that have up till now been too slow to incorporate automation into their recruitment systems are in danger of losing the best candidates to their more forward thinking competitors. Automation improves consistency, efficiency and reduces costs. Functionality such as video interviewing, self-scheduling, on-boarding and online offer making improve candidate interaction and all support the production of real-time reports.

The level of automation undertaken will vary dependent on the industry, type and volume of roles, but an e-Recruitment system incorporating automation should be considered as an essential part of any recruiter’s toolbox.