Applicants must now impress a digital gatekeeper to land some jobs

As AI systems that scan applicants’ faces become more common in hiring processes, commentators debate the ethics of systems that could open the door for discrimination.


October 24, 2019

As if job interviews weren’t stressful enough, meet the face-scanning system that may determine your professional fate. 

Grandma always said you get one first impression

HireVue launched its AI assessment service in 2014 as an add-on to its video-interview software. Since then, more than 700 companies have used it for almost 12m interviews worldwide. The practice is especially prevalent in the finance and hospitality industries, with Hilton, Unilever, and Goldman Sachs making up some of the biggest names in HireVue’s client list.

The system analyzes a job candidate’s facial movements, eye contact, word choice, speaking voice, and perceived enthusiasm to calculate an employability score. HireVue says a 30-minute assessment can yield 500k data points… greatly streamlining early hiring processes, especially for high-volume, entry-level positions.

Natch, not everyone is thrilled

Freaked out by the prospect of talking to a computer, some job applicants try weird tactics to improve their scores… like gluing googly eyes onto their webcams to make eye contact easier. TBD on whether that works — HireVue does not release scores to applicants.

Some AI researchers have dismissed the system as “pseudoscience” and worry the program penalizes non-native English speakers or visibly nervous candidates. Meanwhile, Illinois recently passed a law that requires employers to disclose the methodologies behind their AI hiring systems. HireVue likes to keep this stuff secret, so similar legislation in the future could spell trouble for the company.

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