Striking a balance between automation and human interaction in talent acquisition

31 Aug 2023 by Neil Rose

Technology has dramatically reshaped traditional practices in the ever-evolving sphere of talent acquisition, and automation seems to be an endless juggernaut. As talent acquisition departments turn increasingly towards automated systems for sourcing, screening and engaging candidates, it’s important to understand how to strike the right balance. Here, we talk to Referoo Director Neil Rose about defining the boundaries in a fast-moving landscape.

Striking a balance between automation and human interaction in talent acquisition

“It’s important to start by saying that automation is not a dirty word that spells the end of human interaction,” says Rose.

He highlights that automation has many benefits, from increased efficiencies and optimised processes to enhanced accuracy, reduced paperwork, and seamless internal and external experience.

But, he adds that talent acquisition is, at its core, about building relationships and nurturing human capital. Despite technological advancements, areas like hiring and employee engagement still require a human touch.

So how do you decide where to automate? Rose says starting with the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ is critical.

Start with the ‘why’

“Often, people start by thinking about the process they want to automate rather than the outcome they want to achieve. Starting with that outcome in mind will lead to better automation decisions and, ultimately, achieving your goals.”

He says the ‘why’ was what sparked the Referoo journey.

“We didn’t start by thinking we want to create an automated reference-checking tool. It started as a discussion with [Referoo co-founder] Chris Hunter on how the manual reference-checking process didn’t work for anyone – candidates, clients, referees or talent acquisition professionals. An automated platform was ultimately the solution, but it wasn’t the starting goal.

“Starting with why meant we created a platform that was entirely fit-for-purpose, rather than trying to shoehorn a pre-determined solution into a current challenge. This approach has allowed us to design a practical solution that truly works for stakeholders on all sides of the reference process.”

Rose says it should be the same when you consider your in-house automation needs. Start with why you are doing this, and it will help you understand where you need to intersect human interaction and technology to achieve your goal.

Define clear roles for people and tech

“Implemented and used to its full capacity, the right tech should be like an additional team member, one who is happy to do the manual, low-touch or less strategic work. For example, a tool like Referoo removes the time-consuming parts of the reference check, like scheduling and the inevitable phone tag between the TA professional and the referee.

“However, an experienced TA professional still needs to apply their experience and expertise to review and compare reference checks, uncover insights and make the hiring decision. It’s about enhancing and enabling the strategic value of your people,” says Rose.  

So, he highlights, it’s essential to define the roles of the tech and those of your people, understanding where expertise and experience will add strategic value.

“Ultimately, you can reserve human interaction and effort for those areas needing strategic expertise, empathy or discretion.”

Look for solutions that support multiple approaches

Experienced talent acquisition and HR professionals likely have their own preferences and ways of working when it comes to hiring. Rose says it’s important that your tech supports this diversity in approach.

“Talent acquisition is a highly prized skill in today’s challenging landscape. Introducing tech that fundamentally changes how they like to work may not improve outcomes – and can have the opposite effect,” he says.

He adds that it is one of the reasons the Referoo platform supports phone references.

“Of course, you could ask why an online platform still supports this more manual process, but for some professionals, it’s the way they like to work – and for some roles, it makes sense. Automation should be about enhancing the skills you have on your team, not replacing them.”

In summary, Rose says automation brings undeniable advantages to talent acquisition, but it should be used strategically and judiciously to enhance human efforts. As talent acquisition continues to evolve, finding the sweet spot between automation efficiency and the human touch will drive its future.

Interested in finding out how Referoo can remove manual tasks and enhance strategic value in your hiring process? Referoo invites readers to try it for themselves with a full, 14-day free trial – no obligations and no credit card number required. Visit to get started.