Career Trends: Need a job? Talk to the computer, say employers

3 min read

Edition: June 20th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

More job-seekers, including some professionals, may soon have to accept impersonal online interviews where they never talk to another human being. (Image source:

Excerpts from article published on

More job-seekers, including some professionals, may soon have to accept impersonal online interviews where they never talk to another human being, or know if behind-the-scenes artificial-intelligence systems are influencing hiring decisions.

Demand for online hiring services, which interview job applicants remotely via laptop or phone, mushroomed during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains high amid a perceived worker shortage as economies open up.

These systems claim to save employers’ money, sidestep hidden biases that can influence human recruiters and expand the range of potential candidates. Many, now, also use AI to assess candidate skills by analysing what they say.

AI-based assessments

  • One of the leading companies in the field, HireVue, gained notoriety in recent years by using AI technology to assess personality and job skills from an applicant’s facial expressions during the interview.
  • It’s known customers have included retailers like Target and Ikea, major tech companies like Amazon, banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, oil giants, restaurant chains, supermarkets, airlines, cruise lines and school districts.
  • HireVue says it interviewed more than 5.6 million people around the world in 2020.
  • After heated criticism, centered on the scientific validity of those claims and the potential for bias, the company announced earlier this year it would end the practice.

How does this work?

  • HireVue’s AI-based assessments rank the skills and personalities of applicants to flag the most promising for further review, while still considering speech and word choices in its decisions.
  • The privately owned company helped create a market for “on-demand” video interviews.
  • The company says it has worked hard to ensure its technology won’t discriminate based on factors such as race, gender or regional accents.
  • It claims that its systems, which translate speech to text and sift for clues about team orientation, adaptability, dependability and other job skills, can outperform human interviewers.

Challenges with AI-based assessments

  • Experts question whether machines can accurately and fairly judge a person’s character traits and emotional signals.
  • Algorithms tasked to learn who’s the best fit for a job can entrench bias if they’re taking cues from industries where racial and gender disparities are already prevalent.
  • When a computer screens out some candidates and elevates others without explanation, it’s harder to know if it’s making fair assessments.
  • If you apply for a job and are rejected because of a biased algorithm, you certainly won’t know.
  • In a face-to-face interview, by contrast, a job seeker might pick up discriminatory cues from the interviewer.
  • The inscrutability of AI-based assessments poses one of the biggest concerns about the rapid growth of complex algorithms in recruitment and hiring.

It’s understandable that companies and organisations are trying to be more mindful of the time and the finances they spend when it comes to recruitment. But one-way interviews leave people uneasy about who (or what!) is evaluating them.

Recruiters needs to tell people exactly how they’re being evaluated. This basic information can affect how people present themselves.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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