They’re Here! Robo-Interviewers Have Arrived

Fortune 500 companies are using automation to pick the best job applicants, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. “From robot avatars interviewing job candidates to computers weeding out potential employees by scanning keywords in resumes, many companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to decide whether an employee is a good fit.”

AI is defined by Whatis.com as “the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction.”

Some say the use of robot avatars to screen job seekers takes the ‘human’ out of Human Resources, resulting in an impersonal process that could turn off applicants. Still, the WSJ found that many companies are successfully using AI tools to:

  • Secretly scan people’s social media accounts to show underlying personality traits
  • Utilize AI-powered virtual assistants to interview applicants
  • Use AI to assess the results of digital job interviews
  • Conduct large scale, automatic, AI-powered assessments of applicants to narrow hundreds of applications to a select few

While no longer flipping through piles of resumes will certainly save time and lower hiring costs, critics claim that the time-saved is not worth the potential for AI hiring bias.

According to SHRM, the potential for inherent bias in AI hiring tools is real. In a November article, SHRM reported that “Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, found out the hard way. In 2015, the company discovered that a recruiting system it was building with machine-learning algorithms had begun to downgrade certain resumes that included words such as “women’s club.” By contrast, the system favored male candidates to whom such verbs such as “executed” and “captured” were attributed. The recruiting system was never rolled out companywide.”

Companies considering the use of AI for hiring should look closely at each tool, and whether the processes/algorithms used are designed in a manner that is fair, transparent, accurate, and lawful.

By V.L. Brunskill

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