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Practical Techie: Is artificial intelligence deciding who gets a top job?

Automation has turned the corner far enough to reach the pile of resumes of job seekers sitting atop the desk of a typical human resources executive. The crucial document is being screened at present time by artificial intelligence (AI) before it even reaches the hands of the top recruitment decision-makers.

In reality, it’s two technologies — AI and robotic process automation (RPA) — that do the initial filtering process for who might finally get the coveted job. The latter is a technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate human decision-making actions. Corporations say both technologies save companies time and money by enhancing productivity and allowing executives to focus on mission-critical work.

WORKINGS — Resume screening with AI works through augmented intelligence by determining a candidate’s cultural fit in the recruiting firm, analyzing key performance indicators in the CV, and as such, future relationships of the candidate with the firm’s managers. Language proficiency in the document is also reviewed. AI compiles scores on how closely a candidate matches the characteristics identified by employers. In video interviews, AI picks up personality traits from voice intonations, facial mannerisms, body movements, and inflections.

But the plot thickens.

Additional to streamlining the review process by narrowing down applicants, another application comes into play. It’s a tool called an Application Tracking System (ATS), which create databases of applicable candidates and filter out any irrelevant before a human reviews the resumes.

VALIDITY — What about accuracy and reliability? Is the high-tech better judge of character than any human?  Do algorithms always play fair?

Experts in industrial-organizational psychology at Rice University say intonation isn’t a reliable indicator of personality traits. Others praise the AI system for its objectivity because it reduces the human bias that may develop when human interviewers make small talk with candidates. Many managers do not consider AI screening a silver bullet and pair its results with call interviews to determine if a candidate will advance to the skill testing phase.

One German nonprofit news media found that certain AI screeners assessed candidates differently with nonidentical video backgrounds during taped interviews, or when using accessories like glasses, or jewelry.

Another pro is that AI screeners do not discriminate based on sex or race. Yet, in 2018, Amazon scrapped its recruiting engine because it was too unfriendly to women. It was not selecting in a gender-neutral way. As another con, robotic screenings can result in selecting workers who think and act alike.

PARRY — Job seekers can work around the robotic hiring protocols. One way of the game the system is not to oversell qualifications in the resume because algorithms detect this ploy quickly and discard it. Clearly define the positions for the job hunt, so that the engine will not be confused in its evaluation. Tailor carefully the resume towards a specific position. This is achieved by using the appropriate vocabulary for the position. This will give the AI the key or buzzwords to properly analyze qualifications for a job description. Avoid jargon and street words.

Finally, for a resume to pass screening tools, make sure it is cleanly formatted, as plain as possible, and in a Word document. Leave the creativity for the interviewing phase.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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