In the face of a new era of downsizing, garnering of qualified workforce remains a key organizational goal. A commonly held view among the human resource managers is that the human resources are the most important assets of an organization and that they offer the only non-imitative competitive edge. As the point of entry, the process of recruitment and selection of employees plays a crucial role in enhancing the success and survival of the organization in the extremely competitive and turbulent business environment.
This paper explores on how the latest advances in technology have impacted on the process of recruitment and selection of employees. Different aspects of the use of new technology will be examined including internet based recruitment, telephone and video conferencing, computer based testing and IVR or Automated telephone interviewing. This will include an overview of the potential advantages as well as challenges arising with the use of each wave of technology.
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In the face of a new era of downsizing, garnering of qualified workforce remains a key organizational goal (Bauer 2004). As the point of entry, the process of recruitment and selection of employees plays a crucial role in enhancing the success and survival of the organization in the extremely competitive and turbulent business environment. Traditionally, the recruitment and selection process relied on fairly low-tech methods such as employee referrals and newspaper ads, in locating and attracting qualified candidates (Lievens, et.al 2002). Successful job seeking included frequenting the local job center (Lievens, et.al 2002).
This has however changed over the past few decades as a result of advances in technology. The recruitment process, just like all other business functions, has become increasingly tied to technology (Lievens, et.al 2002). The common practice of mailing applications and waiting to be called for an interview via a phone call has been trumped by technological advances which have eased communication. Technological advances such as internet-based recruitment and candidate assessment, computer-based testing, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), telephone and video-based interviews among other information technologies are now increasingly being used in recruiting and selecting qualified candidates (Chapman & Webster 2003).
In this paper, we examine how the latest advances in technology have impacted on the process of recruitment and selection of employees. The following sections will explore on these technological advances, in particular, how they are impacting on recruitment and selection process. This will include an overview of the potential advantages as well as challenges arising with the use of each wave of technology. We begin by exploring on internet based recruitment, which involves recruitment via the web.
a. INTERNET BASED RECRUITMENT
The most popular ways through which advances in technology have significantly impacted on recruitment and selection is through the internet. Organizations are increasingly making use of the internet technology, particularly the World Wide Web, as a platform for testing and recruiting potential candidates (Baron & Austin, 2000). Social networking websites, software and online job boards has helped in linking applicants to hiring professionals with focus on knowledge, skills and abilities (Baron & Austin, 2000).
Social networking sites such as LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, monster.com and universe.jobs hold millions of jobs and resumes in their databases (Neil 2003). These professional networking sites play a significant role in the process of recruitment and selection. LinkedIn, for example, is used as a business-oriented social networking site whereby applicants are linked with the employers. LinkedIn is widely used globally as a professional network service and has currently 90 million users (Neil 2003). It is currently valued at over $2.51 billion USD and operates in more than 200 countries (Neil 2003).
Advances in technology have indeed shaped the process of recruitment and selection. Online ads are now the lead recruitment methods employed by employers. Recruitment and selection via the web has enabled the employers to build a ‘talent pool’ of qualified candidates and lessen their reliance on conventional print media (Thompson et al., 2008). This has led to significant cost savings as employers lessen their reliance on recruitment agencies (Thompson et al., 2008). In this regard, Harris & Dewar (2000) noted a significant reduction on the cost per-hire from $ 3,295 (for the conventional recruitment methods) to $377 (for internet based recruitment).
There are many benefits arising with the use of internet based recruitment method as well challenges that it present to the organizations. It should be noted that internet based recruitment is not without its shortcomings, but the cons must be weighed against the pros in order to determine if this recruitment method is supported.
BENEFITS OF INTERNET BASED RECRUITMENT
The internet provides efficiency in the administration and scoring of test as the content can be easily modified and answers captured in electronic form (Van Hoye & Lievens 2007). It also enables routine checking of errors, automatic scoring of tests and provides instant feedback to the applicants (Van Hoye & Lievens 2007). This administrative ease enables recruiters to save on costs and time giving them a competitive hedge in the tight labour market.
It also provides for increased flexibility for both the employer and applicants in the administration of tests and performance of work in varied geographical locations (Van Hoye & Lievens 2007).
Moreover, the widespread of information in a globalized market widens access to a diverse geographical labour pool (Lievens & Harris 2003).
Additionally, there is a greater transparency in the selection process as candidates are selected based on their skills, experience and competence (Lievens & Harris 2003).
CHALLENGES TO INTERNET BASED RECRUITMENT
While it is apparent that online recruitment help cut on recruitment costs, increase efficiency and transparency in the selection process; there are some potentially major drawbacks.
Due to the high number of applicants, screening and checking the authenticity and mapping of skills may be a time consuming exercise (Lievens & Harris 2003).
The large number of indistinguishable resumes from the various applicants coupled with inadequate software and procedures may lead to poor results in the selection of the ideal candidate (Lievens & Harris 2003). This problem can largely be attributed to the existing methods for parsing resumes which is dependent on software that truncates and exclude the totality of content (Lievens & Harris 2003).
Also, failure by the industry software to produce optimum candidate and position convergence may result in correspondingly low retention rates of the new employees hence costing client companies thousands of dollars (Lievens & Harris 2003).
Despite having automated assistance, managing the workload remains a daunting task for HR managers. While software has reduced on the number of resumes from the applicants, that would otherwise be manually reviewed, it has not been successful in narrowing candidate resume pools to the ideal qualified applicants (Harris & Dewar 2000).It should be noted that most of the software employed in the process of recruitment and selection generally uses rudimentary lexical and semantic algorithms (Harris & Dewar 2000).
These algorithms tend to generate a large candidate pool with most candidates insufficiently suitable for effective use (Harris & Dewar 2000). This is because the industry software lacks the ideal filtering capabilities necessary for the proper parsing of resume. Crucial data that could help in identifying the ideal candidate and position convergence is therefore lost. Without sufficient data, there is not enough variance that could be used in distinguishing among candidate and position suitability (Harris & Dewar 2000).
This next section will explore on interactive voice response (IVR) which is also known as automated telephone interviewing. The method is also gaining popularity and is increasingly being used by firms in recruiting and selecting new hires.
b. AUTOMATED TELEPHONE INTERVIEWING/INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE (IVR)
The use of interactive voice response (IVR) which also referred to as automated telephone interviewing is one of the newest ways to recruiting and selecting new hires (Thompson et.al 2008). IVR technology allows for human interaction with the computer via a telephone keypad or through the use of voice recognition (Thompson et.al 2008). This wave of technology is increasingly gaining popularity in the recruitment and selection of employees due to its many advantages.
ADVANTAGES OF THE IVR
IVR is an easily accessible technology. Take for example the United States where 95% of the households own phones (Thompson et.al 2008).
With IVR, applicants can initiate the interview at any time. The applicants or potential employees can initiate an interview by simply making a phone call to a toll-free phone number and be automatically interviewed without any intervention from the operator (Thompson et.al 2008).
IVR or rather automated telephone interviewing can help in eliminating interview biases (Thompson al 2008).
It is highly cost effective in screening the candidate pool.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING IVR
While IVR is increasingly being used by many businesses to cut on the costs and give a better experience, it is not without its shortcomings.
One of the greatest challenges to using IVR systems in recruitment and selection of employees is that the users find it hard to follow telephone menus and lengthy instructions (Thompson et.al 2008).
Also, IVR screening is considered lower in terms of treatment and openness as well as in reconsideration opportunities than the conventional face to face interviewing (Thompson al 2008)..
c. TELECONFERENCING AND VIDEO CONFERENCING
There is also the use of telephone and video conferencing. Teleconferencing involves setting up of a conference telephone call between the selection committee and potential candidates (Gilliland 1993). Job interviews by teleconferencing are common where the applicant and the selection committee are located in geographically sparse regions. Video conferencing, on the other hand, involves the combination of both the audio and video transmissions, hence allowing for communication to take place by a way of an audio visual link (AVL) (Gilliland 1993). With video conferencing, both the applicant and selection committee members are able to share their views and at the same time see each other on the screen.
BENEFITS OF VIDEO CONFERENCING
Despite reducing the in-person meetings, video teleconferencing as well offer the advantages of face to face communication (Gilliland 1993).
There is also significant cost reduction for both the applicant and the employer as there is no need of travelling and associated costs of lodging and meals (Gilliland 1993).
There is also the added environmental benefit as a reduction in traveling implies a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (Gilliland 1993).
Further, upon placement this technology allows for the continued collaboration with the team members from remote locations (Gilliland 1993).
CHALLENGES OF VIDEO CONFERENCING
Similar to other technological innovations, video conferencing is not without its shortcomings.
There might be a difference in time zones when conferencing in remote geographical locations (Gilliland 1993).
Also, some of the human ways to communicating may not translate well with video conferencing (Gilliland 1993). For example, eye contact may not be easily delivered through a webcam, unlike in the conventional face-to-face interviewing where one can easily make eye contact and judge whether the interviewee is paying due attention.
Last but not least, we explore on how computer based testing has impacted on recruitment and selection process.
d. COMPUTER BASED TESTING
The use of computer based interviews has increased in the recent years with a wide range of organizations utilizing computer-based online tests for selection purposes (Aptitude/psychometric tests) (Chapman & Webster, 2003). There are several reasons for increased reliance on psychometric tests in the recruitment and selection of employees. Key among these is the increased regulation and legislation, and loss of confidence in academic qualifications (Chapman & Webster, 2003).
INCREASED REGULATION AND LEGISLATION
Reliance on test use in the selection process has been used as a defensive strategy to regulation and legislation (Chapman & Webster, 2003). Tests are seen as objective indicators of how the skills of potential candidates align with the job description (Chapman & Webster, 2003). These competency tests promote fairness and equal access to opportunities available.
LOSS OF CONFIDENCE IN ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS
There is a growing body of evidence for a loss of confidence with the formal academic qualifications. This is largely attributed to bad governance and corrupt institutions that may award degrees or certificates to incompetent individuals. As such, competency based tests are increasingly being used in screening the candidate pool and in identifying candidates with skills that align with the “competency profile” for the job in question (Chapman & Webster, 2003).
Computer based testing facilitates the selection process by quickly pinpointing the candidates ability more accurately (Chapman & Webster, 2003). Take for example the BULATS online test, a robust business English language test, which is widely used in helping organizations make timely decisions in the recruitment process (Chapman & Webster, 2003). This online test provides a fast and more accurate method of pinpointing the candidates’ ability and suitability to work by using adaptive testing techniques (Chapman & Webster, 2003).
Clearly, we have identified a number of benefits to using technology for purposes of recruiting and selecting job applicants. A quick recap of some of the benefits include increased efficiency in the administration and scoring of tests, increased flexibility, greater transparency, reduction in biases, widened access to a diverse geographical pool of potential candidates, and cost reduction among others.
There are however challenges arising with the use of technological advances in recruitment and selection process. For example, the exercise may be time consuming as a large number of applicants need to be screened. Other shortcomings include poor results due to inadequate software and procedures, and difficulties in filtering of potential candidates, among others. Nonetheless, the latest advances in technology have significantly impacted on recruitment and selection process.
As pointed out by Kay (2000), the power of the Web and e-technology has changed the way recruitment and selections of employees occur. Technological advancements and the ubiquity of the internet (especially with social networking) have become powerful additions to the process of recruitment and selection. However, these should not be considered as the only solutions to finding the ideal candidate. While changes are still underway, it is clear that advances in technology have dramatically impacted on the recruitment and selection process.
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