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Are interviews necessary in recruitment?

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Experts are divided over whether interviews are always necessary in the recruitment process, a London HR Connection debate has heard.

Bill Boorman, a social media recruitment expert and founder of #GlobalTru events, said hiring managers continue to use interviewing only because it is the only method they know and are ignoring alternative methods.

He said data did not support the effectiveness of interviews for every recruit and that 50% of hiring is now done through referrals and another 35% through ‘boomerang hires’, employees returning companies after working elsewhere.

“With this new landscape in recruitment, candidates have interaction with companies for, on average, up to seven months before they are hired. In these instances interviews are not necessary any more. It is little more than passport control, making sure you have ticked all the boxes in the traditional recruitment process,” Boorman said.

Cognizant Technology Solutions director of recruitment for Europe Ian Dykes, who also spoke at the debate, disagreed. He said that interviews were an integral part of understanding if an applicant was suitable both for the role and the organisation.

“We would never let anyone in without seeing them face-to-face,” he said. “As much as technology makes the candidate and employer much more visible to each other in the recruitment process, this is no substitute for personal interaction.”

Recent research by Monster.co.uk and UCL suggested that in 70% of hires there is no longer any face-to face contact. Due to geographical or time challenges, most interaction is either through Skype or other video conferencing, and Boorman said this is a natural progression.

“It’s not technology as such that is changing the face of recruitment but connectivity. Technology is just the enabler. Now that people can have up to 40 contact points with a company before they even apply for a role,” he said.

Digby Morgan CEO Alistair Cook defended more traditional means of recruitment. He said that for specialist hires, including HR, relationships built up over time would always be more important that technology.

“People will always like dealing with people,” he said. “We will build up personal relationships with people over 10 or 20 years. For specialist, skilled hires that will always be more effective than going out into social media and getting a large pool of skills for one particular role.”