Craig Wilson
Craig Wilson

Articles From the Team

Does a recruiter's gut-feel still have a role to play in today's modern assessment process?

A recent feature in LinkedIn’s Recruiting & Hiring section featured an interesting article by Jack Villiers, Talent Acquisition Partner – Technology at Just Eat.

Jack’s article covers the change in the way that companies recruit staff and it poses an interesting question for employers, employees and recruiters alike.

Just Eat is a major technology / e-commerce company with access to significant quantities of data and so it comes as no surprise that the company and its staff are well used to utilising data and algorithms to develop products, make decisions, improve their customer experience and measure company / employee performance. Data ‘supports the majority of decisions [Just Eat] make and it helps to reflect on decisions, understand outcomes and devise improvements.

Whilst Just Eat and other tech companies may be tech and data savvy, companies across every industry sector make use of data to help them make informed decisions. Whilst data has hitherto only been used to a limited degree in recruitment, could we be about to see an explosion in data and algorithms to match the perfect candidate to a role? Perhaps some kind of job / employee online dating process crossed with traditional psychometrics testing. And, if data does become more dominant and utilised to make decisions, what impact does it have on the recruitment process and candidate experience?

Jack Villier’s article acknowledges that ‘data within recruitment is undoubtedly improving the accuracy of hiring decisions’, however he counters this with the suggestion that data within recruitment ‘is potentially dehumanising the recruitment process and taking away our intrinsic decision making abilities when assessing a person’s skills, ability and cultural fit.

Perhaps more importantly, and this is something Jack also acknowledges, ‘focusing on a candidate’s ability to undertake purely the technical elements of the role will lead to a business missing out on high potential candidates who have the capability to quickly learn the required skills’. It also ignores that fact that cultural fit, behavioural qualities and team fit are important


As an in-house legal recruiter I come across the challenge of cultural / team fit versus technical knowledge and experience all of the time. In-house lawyers need to know the law and be able to apply it in a commercial environment, however they also need to interact with non-lawyers and be both pragmatic and proactive in how they give legal advice. There is rarely any use for a technocrat or PSL type lawyer and so a data heavy approach to recruiting with only limited gut feel / human intuition would invariably fail.

As I have heard many clients say, technical skills, qualifications and experience can be learned or trained however personality and cultural fit cannot. Most of my clients want to have their cake and eat it – securing employees with relevant experience and a good personality fit – however many will forgo experience in exchange for recruiting someone with the right personal qualities for their team and/or company. This includes looking at individuals with transferable knowledge and experience from different legal disciplines or taking on paralegals or foreign qualified lawyers.

I think data is undoubtedly a useful part of any recruitment process – recruiters themselves use KPIs and data all the time – however I do not believe it can ever completely replace a recruiters ‘gut-feel’ and knowledge about a person, their client and/or their employer. A CV and data only tells you so much and it takes speaking and meeting someone to really gauge their suitability; this is where a good recruiter adds real value to a process.

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