Whilst AI-based technologies aim to bring new efficiency and objectivity into the hiring process, new research by the University of Sussex warns that it could potentially have negative effects on young job seekers.
86% of all job interviews happen online
As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual hiring will be a big part of organisational strategies moving forward. According to Gartner, 86% of companies conducted interviews online. And while many of those interviews rely on AI-based integrations to assess and filter candidates, the effect it has on job seekers is still an unknown.
Reason for the University of Sussex to take a deep dive. Led by Dr. Zahira Jaser, Dr. Dimitra Petrakaki, Dr. Rachel Starr and Dr. Ernesto Oyarbide, the team researched explored the technologies from the perspectives of ‘the ultimate users’: young job seekers. In all, they used qualitative interviews with those young job seekers, and conducted an archival investigation of platforms that currently supply employers with interviewing tech and screening solutions.
The Depersonalisation Spectrum
Face-to-face slowly replaced real-time video interviews, through Zoom, Teams or Skype. But as organisations sought further efficiency, some moved towards asynchronous video interviews (AVIs), A.I.-assisted AVIs or A.I-led AVIs, where no recruiter was part of the actual interviews. As it sped up the recruiting process, it didn’t have similar effects for the candidates.
Face-to-face interview offered a candidate several benefits and cues that worked both on a contextual and personal level. AVI-based interviews eliminate that completely. “When traveling to a place of work for the interview, we had the opportunity to transition into a different mindset”, a video explains. “And during the interview, we received real-time feedback that helped us adjust the direction of our thoughts and words.”
“The more the interview was automated, the more the candidate described feelings of de-humanisation.”
“To meet the perceived demands of the AI technology respondents reported adopting progressively unnatural behaviours”, the researchers state. “The more the interview was automated, the more the candidate described feelings of de-humanisation. Simultaneously, it led to feelings of empowerment of the AI-based technologies. It is all part of the depersonalisation spectrum.”
‘Candidates don’t know why they succeeded or failed’
The research found that candidates couldn’t ascertain as to why they succeeded to the next stage of an interview process. Or why their application had not been successful. Overall, they found that young people, career advisers and employers struggle to understand the effects and implications of AI-based interviewing technologies.
“AVIs make candidates behave in a rigid way and has a possible negative impact on their interview performance.”
“The lack of transparency about how AVIs function and get assessed is highly disorientating for jobseekers”, they state. “It makes candidates behave in a rigid way and has a possible negative impact on their interview performance. The research has revealed a complex and opaque picture of the use of AI in hiring processes and highlights a lack of transparency about the processes involved.”
A glass box approach
While the researchers are fairly critical of the AI usage in job interviews, they do see an opportunity for organisations to be transparent. Which will help both parties in the long-run. “The starting point should be a ‘glass box’ approach that is transparent about the technology and how it’s used. This would bring advantages for candidates. It enables them to perform their best during AVI interviews that use AI.”
“Adopting a glass box approach would mean careers and employability advisers would be able to better support job-seekers to prepare for AVIs.”
“And on the employer side, it ensures fairer support to candidates”, they state. “While it allows for better access to a wider talent pool for their vacancies. Adopting a glass box approach would mean careers and employability advisers would be able to better support job-seekers to prepare for AVIs; and hiring platforms would signal their underpinning business ethos and values.”