Future of Work News

The Exciting and Controversial Use of AI in the Hiring Process


An AI-based face scanning system being used to screen prospective employees at some the largest U.S. companies is raising major moral and legal concerns. The system, designed by HireVue, offers AI-driven assessments to rate employment candidates and rank them against other applicants by generating an employability score.

HireVue’s system analyzes job candidates’ facial movements using their computers and cellphone cameras, as well as their word choices and speaking voices. The solution, which has been used by more than 700 companies including Urban Outfitters and Intel, has already analyzed more than a million job applicants.

The platform works by combining AI, video and game-based and coding challenges to collect key insights about job candidates. HireVue touts the solution as offering major benefits to both employers and applicants, as it replaces many of the tedious manual tasks involved in the HR and hiring process. For instance, resume review and phone screenings are replaced with an on-demand video interview, making it convenient for applicants to offer a true representation of their skillset beyond their resumes. And the interviews may be conducted at the convenience of applicants, and the results reviewed at the convenience of employers.

Job candidates are assessed based on a variety of criteria proven to be predictive of on the job performance. And while critics have complained the system is unfair to candidates who are nonnative speakers, nervous or who don’t fit rigid criteria of how candidates are supposed to speak and act, HireVue claims the system is more objective than human recruiters with their inherent judgments and biases.

“People are rejected all the time based on how they look, their shoes, how they tucked in their shirts and how ‘hot’ they are,” said Loren Larsen, CTO of HireVue, in an interview with The Washington Post. “Algorithms eliminate most of that in a way that hasn’t been possible before. When 1,000 people apply for one job, 999 people are going to get rejected, whether a company uses AI or not.”

Not everyone is sold on the benefits of the AI-based hiring technology, however, and this week The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed an official complaint asking the FTC to investigate HireVue’s business practices. The technology watchdog group argues that HireVue’s system employs unfair and deceptive trade practices to assess job candidates, which represents a wide-scale threat to U.S. workers.

“HireVue’s ‘intrusive collection and secret analysis of biometric data’ causes substantial privacy and financial harms,” wrote EPIC officials in the complaint. “Because these algorithms are secret, it is impossible for job candidates to know how their personal data is being used or to consent to such uses.”

Lawmakers are also scrutinizing the technology, and Illinois will enact a law in January forcing employers to tell job applicants and regulators alike how their AI video-interview systems work. The bill, which was approved by Governor J.B. Pritzker, was based on concerns that AI job screening systems could unfairly penalize candidates as well as hide biases about how “model employees” are assessed.

So far criticisms of the technology have not slowed deployments, with companies like IKEA, Delta, Hilton and Unilever providing case studies and testimonials about the success of HireVue’s system.

For more discussion and information about how AI will impact the workplace of the future as well as HR and hiring processes, TMC is hosting a Future of Work Expo in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The event, which will take place from February 12-14, 2020, will explore how AI and machine learning technologies are being used for customer service, communications and beyond throughout a host of vertical markets.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Future of Work Contributor

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