The Age of AI
Elon Musk thinks that artificial intelligence (AI) will be the cause of WW III. In a series of interviews and speeches beginning early last summer, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has issued some stern warnings about the dangers of the growth of artificial intelligence. There’s no lack of clarity to his message:
Most of us are skeptical of this kind of “over the top” analysis. For us, AI is a topic for speculative fiction, not reality. Beginning with Isaac Asimov and his three “laws of robotics,” science fiction authors have speculated about both the ethical and practical considerations surrounding machinery that becomes sentient. Their conjectures have produced great dystopian novels and films. The most familiar example for today’s audience comes from the now classic Matrix trilogy. The Matrix movies, filmed at the turn of the 21st century, portray a post-apocalyptic civilization where humans, kept in an elusive virtual reality (the Matrix), are used to generate energy for the intelligent network of machines that has taken control of the earth.
Today’s AI Isn’t Just Speculative Fiction
In a two-part 60 Minutes piece on AI that broadcast last June, Charlie Rose interviewed Sophia, a robot, and her creator, David Hanson, founder of Hanson robotics. If you didn’t catch the episode, take a look. You’ll find the experience to be odd . . . as the British say, off-putting.
Youtube Link – https://youtu.be/nvZphyWFeXk
Perhaps it’s the facial contortions. Sophia’s expressions and her responses fall somewhere in the midst of the spectrum between programmed and spontaneous. When Rose comments that she’s an unthinking machine, Sophia quotes Descartes, “I think I’m sentient . . . I think, therefore I am, right?”
The ability to observe and react is a component of Sophia’s programming, but her awkwardness illustrates the divide that still exists between automation, the programmed platforms that now infiltrate almost every aspect of business, and the growth of artificial intelligence, the machine learning that enables sentient software to make decisions.
One Way Interviews
That dividing line is becoming blurry, especially in the human resources space. HR automation has been around for nearly a decade. Every job seeker in the known universe has submitted a resume through an applicant tracking system (ATS) and probably has experienced the disappointment of having it vanish into an electronic wasteland.
More recently, large companies have begun to use automated one way interviews that don’t include humans on the employers’ side. From the HR manager’s viewpoint, these platforms improve efficiency. They offer a means of partially skipping out on time intensive screening interviews. In a video for Sparkhire, an HR automation platform, Brad Wilkins, Talent Management Director for Adcap Network Systems, states it this way, “We screened 1000 candidates in the time it used to take for 50.”1
The HR automation platform companies (there are at least 20 of them) make some compelling arguments that at least partially excuse the elimination of personal interaction with a potential employer. Job seekers can schedule one way interviews during off hours. Many of the HR automation platforms provide the ability to re-record answers and approve the final take before submission.
These benefit arguments don’t do a lot to mask some ambiguous features that create questions, however. With the Sparkhire HR automation platform almost every aspect of the screening process is automated, including rejection emails. Employers have the capability to “limit think time,” control the number of allotted takes, and restrict the length of answers. Might they also view the number of attempted answers, how long the candidate took to complete the process, or even the fumbles that were marked for deletion?Interviewing with Agent Smith
If you’re a Matrix fan, you’ll remember Agent Smith. In the first movie of the series, Smith is an AI entity, part of the program that is sentient enough to sense threats to the simulated reality Matrix. In the subsequent movies, it’s revealed that Agent Smith has become fully sentient. It’s no longer necessary for him to be “wired in” to the Matrix. Smith is a model for developing artificial intelligence.
The HR platform parallel to Agent Smith comes from a company called Hirevue. Founded in 2004 as a video interview platform, the company began to integrate AI elements in 2008. Today, the platform uses voice recognition and facial recognition elements that couple with an evaluation algorithm to “rank” candidates that meet the ideal criteria. Humans program the desired traits, but they’re not needed for the screening process. The algorithm determines who moves on to the next round of interviews.
Unilever, the consumer products company, has been a major advocate for the Hirevue artificial intelligence platform. Their screening process combines the Hirevue system with a series of “neuroscience games” that test candidates’ ability to focus, their memory, and their skill with reacting to emotional cues.2,3 Other companies that have adopted the platform include Geico, Honeywell, Deloitte, and Ocean Spray. (Note: If you’re fascinated with this, we recommend two Business Insider articles by Richard Feloni, listed in the footnotes below).
Similar to the automated interviewing platforms, the first claim on the Hirevue website is “increase(d) recruiter productivity.” Undoubtedly, that’s the result of a system that removes humans from the screening process, notwithstanding some potential brand damage among the casualty candidates. Hirevue counters this anticipated criticism with a claim that to some may seem contrived, “Build your brand as a forward-thinking employer with a completely customized video interviewing experience.” 4
Red Pill or Blue Pill? How should you prepare for more HR automation?
If you’re thinking that there are some ethical implications to the growth of the artificial intelligence powered interview process, you’re not alone. While some sectors of the HR community welcome the technological advances, others are extremely skeptical of a process that removes humans from what essentially is a very human equation.
If you haven’t been actively seeking a career change in the last couple of years, this may all be new to you. A 2016 study by the UK job board, totaljobs.com, found that 67% of respondents had not heard of automated recruitment.5 As expected, opinions were mixed among those who had experiences with one way interviews and those who were thinking about the prospect for the first time.
Perhaps it comes down to the Matrix choice. Do you take the blue pill and hope that automated one way interviews will just go away or the red pill that gets you out of the virtual world and into gritty reality. As Morpheus tells Neo:
Stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Wonderland is reality in the movie, and quite probably also in your very real experiences over the next few years. It’s best to have eyes open and prepare for further HR automation.
Here are a few ideas to help you prepare:
- More Preparation – More preparation may be required for automated one way interviews. Even if you’re told that you can “retake” an answer, you don’t know exactly what the system is measuring. Have answers ready for typical interview questions. (See our article, Warming Up for the Job Interview).
- Get your stories straight – You’ll want to prepare and practice narratives that detail your accomplishments and demonstrate your skills and knowledge. Include keywords that are pertinent to the job in your prepared narratives. (Another article, How to Prepare for an Interview).
- Keep your resume on the table – The narrative stories you use should reflect the information that human recruiters will see on your resume as they review the video. In fact, they could and should be the same stories.
- Rehearse – turn on the video camera on your laptop and rehearse your answers and narratives. Make eye contact with the camera. Watch your facial expressions and learn to control them. Remind yourself to smile.
- Get some help – Schedule some practice one way interviews on Skype or Facetime with a trusted friend. Ask them to think like a machine and provide you with objective feedback
It’s a Brave New World. Bring your resume along.
If you’ve had enough dystopia about now, we understand. Despite Elon Musk’s concerns, WWIII probably won’t break out tomorrow. The other good news is that you probably won’t be interviewing with Sophia or Agent Smith anytime soon.
When and if you do experience one way interviews, you’ll want to bring along some old school technology. Your resume is a valuable document. The steps you take to prepare your resume will help you construct the narratives and answers you’ll need for automated interviews. It’s a resource that humans will continue to use to corroborate and confirm your history and the impression they receive from your interviews, automated or otherwise.
Do you need some help preparing for HR automation? CareerPro Global can assist with resume and response preparation and career coaching to help you develop an interview strategy.. We’ll help you select the keywords and create the narratives that will differentiate your responses from competitors. Your resume will augment the impression you make when your screening video is reviewed.
No, CareerPro Global won’t be moving towards automated resume production any time soon. For our part, we think it’s good to keep the humans in the equation. When you work with us, you’ll work in partnership with one of our Master Resume writers who is there to help you. If that sounds a lot better than an artificial intelligence interview, we hope you’ll get in touch for a free career consultation.
2Feloni, Richard, I tried the software that uses AI . . . , Business Insider, Aug. 23, 2017
3Feloni, Richard, “Consumer-goods giant Unilever . . ., Business Insider, June 28, 2017
5Belton, Pádraig, The AI is hiring: Winning tips for woo-ing Robot Recruiters, totaljobs.com, 10/25/16.
The Matrix, copyright info unknown.