More Businesses Use 'AI' to Screen Applicants

  • By Park Sang-hyun

    October 17, 2018 11:53

    A growing number of companies are using algorithms to screen job applicants because they trust them to be more objective and less susceptible to nepotism than human staff.

    Midas IT, which develops AI-assisted programs for recruitment, said 400 businesses used the help of algorithms in screening applicants during the first half of this year. They include Lotte, KT and Ssangyong. Another 500 companies are considering adopting them.

    The computer programs are used to analyze cover letters sent by job applicants and even in interviews. The trend has sparked fears that the human factor is being eliminated from the hiring process by inflexible technology long before any actual artificial intelligence has come into existence.

    Jobseekers attend a computer-assisted job interview in this undated photo. /Courtesy of Midas IT

    Job applicants wonder what the hiring standard will be, while others say they are simply not used to answering questions asked by a computer.

    Kim Sung-hyun (28) has been practicing for job interviews with a group of other jobseekers since August but has been focusing on presentation that would impress a non-human interviewer like facial expression, speech patterns and voice tone. Rumors in the study group say that the algorithm thinks interviewees are lying if they glance in the air when they answer questions or that it prefers a higher voice.

    Park Joon-koo (27), a university student, wrote his cover letter last month and said he used the words "passionate" and "creative" as many times as possible because the company he is targeting uses computer programs to screen cover letters. "This company is known to value passion and creativity, so I felt that my chances of getting hired could rise if the computer counts a lot of these words."

    Businesses that use computer programs to screen job applicants say there is no way to trick the algorithms into judging particular candidates more favorably. One human resources department staffer said, "This is just a trial run, so there's still a lot of debate in the company about how extensively we will use the programs. We're not doing away with face-to-face interviews but plan to turn to the programs for assistance to maintain objectivity."

    Another human resources staffer said, "We're often asked by university students about how to prepare for interviews with computer programs, but we don't know how algorithms come up with high scores either."

    Businesses are reluctant to reveal just how extensively they use them. One headhunter said, "In some businesses, use of AI is minimal. The purpose is just to give the impression that the hiring process is transparent and objective."

    Japanese Internet ad agency Septeni Holdings used an AI program in its final interview to forecast how effective a candidate will be. One headhunting firm in the U.K. charges 9,000 pounds to advise job applicants on the pronunciation style and facial expressions the computer favors, since they are after all programmed by mere humans.

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