The news organization Reuters recently reported on an Amazon HR project to develop artificial intelligence to screen job applicants’ resumes. Amazon wanted a computer to use an algorithm to select the top five applicants from a pool of hundreds. What it found, however, is that the algorithm disproportionately screened out well-qualified women.
The people who worked on this project for Amazon developed an algorithm that looked for certain words which appeared in the resumes of employees who Amazon had hired and who, presumably, proved to be good employees. The problem is that, historically, Amazon and other tech companies have disproportionately hired men. And, what Amazon learned through this project, is that men and women use different terminology in their resumes. For instance, men were more likely to use terms like “executed” and “captured” in their resumes. Needless to say, whether you use a term like “executed” in your resume is not a good predictor of whether you’re going to be a good employee.
Regardless of Amazon’s failed experiment, many companies are forging ahead with A.I. hiring processes. For example, one firm has developed software that will analyze candidates’ facial expressions and speech during video recorded interviews.