Will AI replace humans in executive recruitment?

Will artificial intelligence replace humans in executive recruitment?


Artificial intelligence (AI) is causing quite a stir, promising to make our lives more efficient. The massive media storm around ChatGPT, the new AI-powered chatbot, is a testament to both the enthusiasm and the apprehension people feel toward this technology. What impact can we expect on recruitment and the job market?


Where does AI fit into professional services?


AI promises to revolutionize many industries. Some professions will need to change and adapt to “collaborating” with increasingly powerful machines. 

For traditionally people-focused industries, such as professional services, the impact of AI is still fairly limited, for now. As the technology becomes increasingly versatile and accessible, we are finding more and more opportunities to better meet the needs of our clients without compromising on experience. We need only ask where we can apply technology while maintaining quality of service.

Companies in this industry—and particularly headhunters—are exploring how they can integrate innovative technological solutions into their operations while keeping the human touch that built their reputations and brought them success. In a market where qualified human resources are rare, how can companies make the most of AI to assign their talent to value-added tasks?


How headhunters use AI


Thanks to AI-powered tools, recruiters have access to more powerful data than ever. This information can help them:

  • Find new candidates more quickly and through many different channels
  • Better evaluate applicants
  • Determine how well a candidate’s skills align with job requirements or company culture

Executive search firms can now use these high-tech tools to automate certain aspects of recruitment and make more objective decisions. These tools are not new to headhunters, but they are quickly gaining in both efficiency and accuracy. 


To keep the recruitment process fair and bug-free, recruiters use strategies that integrate a variety of innovative tools, ranging from simple analysis to virtual-reality simulation. While these new technologies can increase efficiency by maximizing workload, there is always a risk that over-automation could steer companies away from high-quality candidates with invaluable assets. That is why no step of the recruitment process should be fully automated—recruiters can and must always know how to fine-tune their tools to best meet the specific needs of any given executive search.

Why AI will never replace humans in the executive search process


There are many nuances to each aspect of our profession, be it executive search, headhunting or recruitment. When it comes to the executive search process, the task at hand is too complex, strategic and critical to be done by a computer, no matter how powerful. Finding the best candidate for a vacancy as president, board member, vice president, director or mid-level executive comes with a myriad of considerations that require specific, nuanced knowledge of the company’s inner workings and of the job requirements. For example, CVs are rarely even used to fill this type of position. Instead, recruiters navigate various formal and informal channels to target candidates who, in many cases, are not actively searching themselves.

This is why human interaction is indispensable in the recruitment of senior executives. Beyond the hard facts that a computer can process—job titles, responsibilities, skills—there are markets, contexts, issues, challenges, opportunities and trends that can only be understood by an experienced human mind. Knowing how to read between the lines is absolutely essential, not only to fill the position in question but also to ensure that the candidate is the right choice for the role and its responsibilities.


AI is revolutionizing the recruitment process by allowing us to use powerful algorithms and forecasting models to identify talent in a near-infinite network at previously unimaginable speeds. Such progress brings immense possibilities, yes, but also risks. We must remain ever vigilant and critical of the data. As massive as big data may be, it has no real value until it is properly interpreted and utilized to best serve its purpose.
François Piché-Roy, President and Senior Consultant, PIXCELL

This article was also published on CFR Global Executive Search’s website


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