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"We cannot do successful recruiting without technology" - Interview with Tony de Graaf (SmartRecruiters)


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How important is technology in recruitment?

I think technology is very important, but I think what you need to be careful with is to not only focus on technology. You should not put technology at number one right at the end of the day if you want to achieve any outcomes in business. We cannot just put technology out there and just magically hire people. No, you also need humans somewhere in that process. Also, we cannot do great, fast and successful recruiting without technology because what is exactly without technology maybe you don't have an ATS, but then you use Excel that's also technology, and then you use email, but wait, that's also technology. So you always use technology.

In terms of recruitment operations development, what should a recruitment specialist focus on?

There is not one simple answer. The answer always depends on what you're doing.

The most important thing over the recruiter for me is super simple and you are responsible to make sure that you're hiring manager or the business can make the best hiring decision. This is what you're responsible for. So if you are responsible for the right hiring decision, that actually means that you are also responsible to make sure that the right candidates make it to the hiring decision, that the best candidates do not drop off because the hiring manager directly rejects. So that means you need to help the hiring manager to do a proper interview.

This also means that you need to make sure that the job is posted correctly that you have the right candidates flowing in. You are responsible that the right one, two, or three candidates end up at the end of The funnel. So that means you need to think about how do I make sure that it flows through every step. That is the mindset that you should have as a recruiter. You're not just responsible for posting or sourcing or reviewing in selection. No, you are the gatekeeper for the quality of the hiring decision in the organization. That is the sole purpose of a recruiter in my eyes and that doesn't change whether you are 360 recruiting or that the roles are sent.

What should or what can the industry do with AI?

For me AI needs to help optimize productivity and help you make some steps easier.However, AI is not at a place yet that it should make decisions. Because if we don't fundamentally understand how it works you cannot levitate decisions. And this is also in line with the legislation that is coming up in New York. There is a new legislation coming up that if AI takes a decision then if you get audited, you need to be able to show exactly how the AI has taken this decision to, for example, hire a candidate. Also when we talk about ethics, AI should not let you take firing decisions or be in decisions that reject or progress a candidate. You should use AI to help you write super good job ads in your language and maybe even in the English language if that's not your native language. Use it to summarize, to make your notes because if you're typing your brain can only focus on that one thing. So it's very difficult to actually listen to everything that a candidate says and make notes at the same time. You can have way more attention for your candidate, which is way better experience for the candidate and also better for you because you can actually listen to the candidate because you can trust that.

what KPIs should be taken into consideration during recruitment?

This is an ever-going conversation. What decisions do you actually want to take? What do you want to know? This is what you need to define. There is a list that you need to make first. If you go to your leadership, you need to talk to your leadership. See what you need to know about your performance, work with them together, have some suggestions and see what is important for you. Then you're actually going to look at the data. What data do I actually need that helps me show this and that's a metric. Sometimes. It's a combination of a few metrics.

But this is the order that you need to go through when it comes to metrics and this is the biggest mistake. I see a lot of companies make that, they directly start with what should we measure and they actually don't actually answer the question: what can we measure or waste time to hire close by higher conversion ratios or timing stage drop-off rates, acceptance rates. There's nothing wrong with those metrics, but my first question is always: why are you measuring this and then people go like I don't know.

So you should start with the end in mind if you will and then of course have a good list of very important metrics that you actually should look at but already starting with this forget about what you can measure, and start with what do the recruiters need. What do the hiring managers need? What does the recruiting leader need and what the Business Leaders need if we start with those four or five lists, you will have a completely different answer than you probably have today.

What is one mistake that should not be made in 2024?

I think what's happened in the last few years is that the evolution of technological innovation and the things that we can potentially do are moving faster and faster, and nowadays, evaluation tools are integrated much faster and easier than they were a few years ago. So back in the day there was just one technology once in a few years and now there are so many awesome tools and types of technologies out there every year.

So I think the mistake that you should prevent is that we need to jump on the AI trade and we should just implement the tool. It really goes a little bit back to what I just said about the metrics and as to why are you doing this. So every company is focusing on whether we need to do something with AI, but they don't really answer the question, that what is the problem that we're trying to solve and then maybe the answer is AI but maybe the answer is an automation tool that can be a lot simpler because AI can also solve a lot of challenges.

What are you preparing for the recruiTECH event? What can we expect from you?

I will talk a little bit about what we talked about before, about the metrics and KPI. So, how should you measure it in order to solve all your recruiting challenges, and we call that achieving hiring success. So how can you leverage data and KPIs to help you achieve hiring success. So that is the topic that I want to talk about and I think I wanna set it out the following way: we really need to be good at understanding what we do and collecting our data so that everyone understands why it is important.

I want to talk a little bit about what best practice looks like, so what is the art of the possible. If you are completely data-driven it would solve this and this and we would be able to do this and this. so get the imagination going but what I think is a problem in a lot of talks at events is that they stop there and it is not very useful for a lot of recruitment teams in the world just to understand what the art of the possible is.

I think then the next topic should always be: what can you start doing today? And so how do you actually begin on that? Data journey? How do you start very small? Because when it comes to data, people always want to solve everything like they want to build beautiful dashboards and directly become completely data driven. I've worked with a lot of organizations that have achieved that.That's at least a tree to five year journey to get there. That's not something you just do in a couple months or a year or two years. That's just simply not possible.

Thank you for the anwers Tony de Graaf, the Global GTM Director Services of SmartRecruiters!