Automating recruitment processes

Insight into the growing trend of robotic process automation in recruitment including good practice case examples.

1 February 2021

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the automating of routine, manual processes with software that performs the tasks automatically.

RPA software is being used more and more in HR services in the NHS, to digitalise paper processes, reduce time to hire, reduce data input tasks and human error and to improve staff on-boarding systems.

The benefits to trusts automating processes include:

  • increasing the speed of tasks - RPA can process a high volume of transactions accurately and in the fraction of the time it would take a person
  • tasks can be scheduled - bots can work on tasks sequentially and be programmed to complete them day or night
  • free up time - by programming bots to do a lot of the transactional work, staff time can be freed up to complete more complicated and interesting tasks
  • improve the candidate experience - the swift completion of tasks such as pre-employment checks and the sending of offer letters mean that applicants are subject to a quicker and more efficient recruitment process that allows them to start in their role a lot sooner
  • pinching with pride - it is possible for trusts to share previously automated processes, meaning you won't necessarily have to start from scratch.

Top tips to getting started

Read our case study on the work Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has done to automate parts of its recruitment processes. The trust has found this has helped it to improve candidate experience, reduce costs and free up staff capacity to work on more value added tasks.

With Royal Free London we identified the following top tips:

  • Explore the benefits automation can bring to staff experience. This will help staff understand how the employment experience can be enhanced rather than threatened by automation.
  • Identify HR processes that are manual and routine. These are perfect to automate.
  • Calculate how much time can be saved by automating processes. Invest this time in value added tasks.

What can automation do to support HR processes?

Watch Neil Picton, head of workforce engagement and information at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, present the trust's RPA journey and a practical case study showing the value RPA can bring to the NHS.

Visit the NHS England and NHS Improvement website for national updates.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has published a how to guide for designing, implementing and sustaining Robotic Process Automation within the NHS. 

You should also be aware of the NHS England and NHS Improvement eForum. Here you can access information about suppliers, service catalogues and pricing, as well as case studies from successful deployments of RPA.

The forum also hosts tools available to help you assess the suitability of a process for automation, as well as an events calendar highlighting upcoming events, workshops and webinars.

To request access to this forum, email