You do not need to have finished your studies to realise it: internships and job positions are incredibly competitive. Around the world, students and graduates are trying to be offered a place at any company, sending hundreds of online applications, hoping for one or two positive answers. This whole process unarguably raises many doubts and questions. How do firms manage to eliminate so many candidates in such a short time? What are the methods used to decide who rightfully deserves the position? Then, we must also undoubtedly look at the applicants’ point of view – what are the repercussions of these systematic, repetitive rejections, received and sent by email, without any human contact? In this article, we will discuss these questions by analysing the current use of AI in the job application process, along with its potential consequences.
Quantifying skills and personality
In the past few years, managers and human resource professionals have massively started to use personality assessments to predict an applicant’s suitability for a specific position within an organisation. Algorithms are created to assess whether an individual should be invited to the next step of the application process, letting AI choose if someone can receive an offer for a position. Of course, there are pros and cons of such a senseless method, that will now be explicated.
On the one hand, these tests are practical and beneficial, as, firstly, they are uniform. Indeed, every applicant receives the same link and has to complete the same tasks, which gives a fair and standardised opportunity to succeed. Moreover, well-designed tests can be viable, as they are more objective than most hiring managers. Recruiters cannot just follow their intuition, as tests give them a quantifiable insight on the applicant skills or weaknesses – therefore, rejections can be more justified and explained than just because of a “gut feeling”. Furthermore, it is easier for online assessments to focus solely on the job-related criteria instead of letting an unconscious bias take over in the decision- making process. Finally, it is also essential to acknowledge that online testing can save a considerable amount of time for both the hiring managers and applicants. Indeed, many personality traits assessed online are complicated to discuss during an interview, leading to endless questions that cannot really help recruiters choose the perfect candidate.
On the other hand, these tests create serious issues in the recruitment process. First of all, studies demonstrate that these assessments can be extremely discriminatory by massively screening out non-white applicants, paradoxically to the objectivity underscored earlier. Moreover, AI can also be a disadvantage to female candidates, sometimes resulting in expensive and exhausting lawsuits. Online testing also faces the issue of “faking”: applicants may strategically “fake” their responses, therefore reducing the accuracy and usefulness of the scores. Furthermore, algorithms are not only ambiguous, but they also assume that people can be summed up in percentages, scores and numbers, while every individual is unique. Many crucial details are neglected and left out of the process, despite their potential importance.
Interviewing with AI
The use of artificial intelligence to interview and screen potential candidates has recently been a burning debate. With AI, businesses can ask pre-determined questions to candidates, to which they must answer on camera through a laptop or other electronic device. Despite the significant lack of data available, studies suggest that applicants are then knowingly graded on their facial animations, the tonality of their voice, and particularly their vocabulary and grammar. After an AI interview, an algorithm will decide whether an applicant may be suited for a job or internship position based on the “scores” obtained by the candidate. However, many researchers and specialists admit that no one really knows what AI is looking for in applicants, which makes the entire screening process difficult and hardly enjoyable.
HireVue, one of the prominent leading companies in digital recruitment, “recognises the impact that our software can have on individuals and society, and we act upon this responsibility with deep commitment”. They also claim to be accurate and objective- similarly to online testing? – while there is no strong evidence proving that analysing body posture or facial expressions can effectively predict job performance. Moreover, even though video interviews can save time, be more practically convenient for the applicants while reducing the pressure of a face-to-face interview, AI presents numerous flaws which employers should consider before implementing in the recruitment process. Indeed, video interviews can exclude unique and original candidates, while discriminating non-white and female applicants – as seen before. Finally, algorithms often have built-in biases, which may result in an amplification of existing stereotypes and beliefs and undermining applicants from specific backgrounds.
“Online testing also faces
the issue of “faking”:
applicants may strategically
“fake” their responses,
reducing the accuracy
and usefulness of the scores”
Many candidates need some time to understand that their whole personality and skillset will be assessed in a few minutes online, or that they need to “record” an interview in front of a computer with no live person on the other end of the line. However, it is now undoubtedly challenging to imagine the hiring process without AI – the numerous advantages that technology has provided prove its vast potential. It is reasonable to say that companies are doing the right thing – on a business level – to implement AI into something as obvious as an interview.
However, it is crucial that the use of AI in recruitment becomes more regulated and less discriminative. Moreover, the candidate experience should definitely be more deeply considered, as a recent survey found that 50% of candidates had declined a job offer due to poor experience during the hiring process.
In the next few years, as more and more firms are now using AI in the recruitment process, students and graduates should be prepared to be judged and graded. At the same time, their personality could be “scored” and turned into a percentage. Controversial but efficient, it is safe to assume that digital hiring will stay in the long term.
Written by Hélène Pignon