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Humans rebel as the machines take over HR departments

Nov 12,2019
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A reporter takes an artificial intelligence interview at the office building of Midas IT located in Pangyo, Gyeonggi, last Wednesday. The test, which includes character and personality analyses, ranks the candidates and determines their job compatibility. [MIDAS IT]
Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used by HR departments to eliminate thousands of job applicants this year, with the machine scanning facial expressions and spitting out mind-bending trick questions.

Humans are outraged.

“The test is unreliable due to insufficient data,” argued one.

“I can’t see the necessity of it except cutting costs,” another said.

According to Midas IT, a software developer, some 185 companies are conducting AI interviews.

The AI analyzes the facial expressions by tracking 68 key facial points and processes answers to 10 thought exercises, such choosing whether a printout of the word “red” is actually colored red. A report is generated by the machine, scoring the candidate and determining their job compatibility.

Job seekers are stewing.

“Considering that deep-learning image processing requires tens of thousands of pictures, the AI can’t be trusted yet because of lack of data,” said a 24-year-old surnamed Park, in response to open recruitment at LG Electronics. “Dropping candidates 100 percent by AI interviews can only mean one thing: reducing costs.”

Midas IT objects, ticking off all the information being used.

“The program is trained using data from 50,000 people in their 20s and 30s, 450 theses on neuroscience, decision-making processes developed by 200 experts, including psychology experts and company HR managers, and the AI test results of 6,000 of the highest and lowest performers currently working in domestic companies,” noted the company.

Obviously, job seekers and the IT company disagree.

“Being rejected by a machine was a reality check,” said Park, who had AI interviews for research and development positions at two pharmaceutical companies.

Each company has its own way of using AI interviews, which is quite frustrating for job seekers. While a pharmaceutical company relied on AI to screen 4,000 candidates, LG Electronics and Nexen Tire said they would use the AI interviews for reference rather than a decisive factor until the test can prove its credibility.

In the case of the latter, the purpose of the test is “collecting data.”

“Some ‘indecent’ companies don’t even inform candidates beforehand that AI interviews won’t be counted,” said 26-year-old Kim Min-ho.

The new AI test is a burden for jobs seekers, giving them yet another task on their to-do list. In an open chat room with 900 job seekers preparing for AI interviews, AI cram schools advertise themselves.

“AI interview crash course for 50,000 won [$43] in Busan,” reads one.

“It is unfortunate that expensive consultancies are luring job seekers when test scores can’t really be improved by [repeated] training and when the test isn’t conducted on a relative basis,” said an official from Midas IT.

Employees working for major companies had doubts about AI interviews.

“It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to hear the news that machines are evaluating humans,” said Baek Seung-chul, a 26-year-old employee who has been working for a big company for two years.

“Humans decide the final results, so the AI interviews seem pointless,” said Han Tae-soo, a 26-year-old employee who had an of AI interview a year ago.

AI HR has its proponents among the hopeful.

Job seekers pointed out that AI tests can be taken at places “where they feel most comfortable,” and the tests would exclude external factors such as how good they look.

“AI interviews will provide fair opportunities.” said Jung Dong-jin, chief of web solutions of Midas IT.

BY KIM JUNG-MIN [kim.byungwook@joongang.co.kr]