Computer Software Playing Greater Role in Lower-Level Hiring Decisions

Toward the end of September, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on computer software to make hiring decisions. Xerox Corp.’s call center was cited, and as the article points out, software programs, used for judging experience and personality, are replacing human resource departments’ former functions.

An algorithm, one that takes into account an extensive list of factors, defines the perfect candidate. Aside from looking at actual work experience, the software runs a lengthy personality test, asking questions about potential work-based situations, living conditions, and attitudes. Evolv Inc., which made and manages the software for Xerox, looks for the following qualities for a call center employee: lives near the job center and has a reliable source of transportation, uses one or more (but less than four) social networks, and has a creative, but not inquisitive and empathetic, personality. Tests typically last for 30 minutes, and as the piece explains, Xerox hires the top, and occasionally secondary, scorers. Those toward the bottom are not considered.

For companies, such software-based hiring, one that completely removes the human instinct component, has proved to have a positive impact, so far. For one company cited, using computer software to weed out workers with positive attitudes toward alcohol and drugs has resulted in a nearly 70-percent decline in worker’s compensation claims.

On the other hand, the technology, and its ever-changing nature, has potential to open companies up to lawsuits. Algorithms are always being revised for newer factors, and potential modifications could result in a group – either a minority, an age group, or people with disabilities – being excluded from a position. Companies using such software, it appears from the article, are ready in case legal action is pursued.

However, as the piece implies, software is only being utilized for lower-level positions. Jobs that require more skills, background, and greater variables are not being screened this heavily. Do you think companies should start taking such an approach with higher-level positions, or does such software eliminate perfectly-qualified candidates?

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