“Mechanical Hounds Never Fail”: But Can They Hire the RIGHT Person for the Job? #HUMANVSMACHINE

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mechanical dog

This week on Blogging4Jobs, we are focusing on the theme Man Versus Machine sponsored by 1 Page Proposal. Automation versus cognitive thought. Within this world of social media, social recruiting and HR technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the cool, the fads and the next big thing. But, at the end of the day, we cannot forgot that it’s people that really make social media initiatives kick ass. To follow the entire series make sure to bookmark our Man vs. Machine category for all the latest blog posts.

Are we Just Slow Dancing in a Burning Room? 

“Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in tracking quarry has this incredible invention made a mistake. Tonight, this network is proud to have the opportunity to follow the Hound by camera helicopter as it starts on its way to the target…” – Fahrenheit 451

Whenever I hear phrase Man vs. Machine, I am driven back to the beautiful but dreadful imagery of Ray Bradbury’s classic “Fahrenheit 451”.  I was 13 or 14 when I first read the book and didn’t really comprehend the power and magnitude behind the words or if the portrayed a kind of civilization would ever exist.  I think it was Total Recall (1990)   when I thought, “Holy Crap – Ray Bradbury wasn’t kidding…”

Can technology replace a human?

You must use this software, download that product, upload this, integrate that.  The conundrum is figuring out which you need and which you want, which will work and which will just create more work, which will benefit and which will only hinder.  If we left it up to the “machines” to decide, every software would be downloaded, every portal would be filled, and every snot-nosed brat who creates an app will be a CEO.

I am, nonetheless, a Fan

Interestingly enough, I love technology – all kinds – but especially technology that makes the job of talent management easier.   When we consider HR and Recruiting Technologies, we must consider the purpose and benefit.  So often, technologies are suggested and developed which just create more work for us, the humans.  Think about a CRM that doesn’t easily extract information from another or vice versa – I can’t even contemplate manual population.  Or software with poor user experience, a non-intuitive operating system, or outdated functionality.

Too Little Too Late?

Today, we see companies trying to keep up but being surpassed the hipper, younger guys because they know how to develop product quickly.  But is quicker always better?  When we force functionality, do we lose human interest?  When we drive innovation, do we miss what the user really wants?

We are Social Beings

The reason social media took off and captures so many users on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis is that it is basically an extension of the human experience.  Social media takes humanness and stretches it far beyond its normal capacity by adding scope and reach, influence and candor, and without losing character – the most vital human component that a machine will never truly acquire.

You Cannot Program Character

Way back in the 1700s, poet and writer Samuel Johnson understood about the difference between knowledge and character when he stated, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, but knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful…”  You cannot even teach humans character or integrity, how could we possibly expect a machine or technology to exhibit these two linked traits?

Hire for Character

Since we cannot program a machine or technology with integrity, how could we possibly expect a machine or technology to recognize or detect this most desirable trait in a person, a live human?  It is impossible.  I once worked for a CEO who declared, “I can teach anyone a skill – I cannot teach them character, Rayanne.  Hire based on character and the rest will fall into place.”  He was right.

Humans Hire Humans

When it comes to hiring human beings, a machine or software or technology may help with the filtering process through semantic matching of key words or sorting and storing big data.  But determining fit or culture compatibility?  Only the eyes, ears, intellect, heart, and soul of another human can make that final determination as to who the best is to hire.  It is not Man VERSUS Machine nor Man AGAINST Machine, but rather Man SUPPORTED by Machine.

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  But if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” – Warren Buffet

What machine can possibly determine integrity in a human?   

by Rayanne Thorn

Special thanks to this week’s theme sponsor, 1 Page Proposal. Learn more about their revolution of Human vs. Machine by clicking here or by visiting the hash tag on Twitter #humanvsmachine.


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  1. A thought provoking post, thank you Rayanne! I do believe that you can teach character and integrity with time.

    A devil’s advocate view to the future,

    Effective behavioral interviewing has been observed as a talent assessment differentiator by organizations. Character and integrity seem measurable within that framework?

    With software/machines you can:

    Conduct interactive, qualitative interviewing with consistency (all candidates have the same questions asked by the same virtual interviewer, think visual Siri.)

    Develop voice recognition/cognition software to data analyze against high character/integrity measures. 🙂

    Compare behavioral interview responses of interviewee to prior successful, high character/integrity hire’s interview answers.

    Sounds like some Orwellian future…

    • Hey there Ben–
      Thanks so much for commenting and a yes, thought-provoking – was hoping someone would comment or challenge me… I don’t fear the challenge.
      But your last sentence is exactly what I do fear and what I will push back against…

      And to address your one comment: teaching integrity:
      During an interview might be too late in the life process to determine that someone needs to learn some integrity. Not enough time (as you stated, “I do believe that you can teach character and integrity with time.”) – we need to hire and get to work, not hire and teach ethics, integrity, and character.

      Teaching an 8 year old about trust and truth is not the same as teaching a job applicant about integrity. It seems there is much to discuss.

      Thanks so much for posting – I love the discussion!



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