By Sunny Um WIRED Korea
It should not come as a surprise if a growing number of corporations are relying on artificial intelligence (AI) in determining whom to hire, given that it is finding its way into all aspects of life and work in Korea.
AI-assisted recruitment is gaining momentum. SK hynix, LG Electronics, Nexen Tire and Midas IT Co. are among those well-known companies that have recently turned to AI for assistance in recruitment. Even a university has started to use AI in administering admissions.
As experts believe, more companies are expected to jump on the bandwagon in the years ahead, with AI becoming smarter each day. Sure, there are those with contrarian opinion. But they are apparently underestimating AI’s potential.
AI works in two ways. One is to apply it in reviewing documents submitted by job applicants to corporations. It is used to find plagiarisms and false statements. An AI program reads the documents and compares them with materials available online or stored in databases.
The other way is to use an AI interview program, capable of reading voice and facial expressions and assessing social competence based on its findings. It examines how a job applicant reacts to each on a prepared list of questions and determined what he is qualified be employed. This is like a work aptitude test.
One such test is a software developed by Genesis Lab, a Seoul-based startup, which assesses emotional states of applicants based on their non-verbal behavior and evaluates their social skills and personalities.
“The solution helps (employers) learn about social skills of applicants, including their communication skills, and their attitudes (toward work and interpersonal relations),” Lee Young-bok, founder and CEO of Genesis Lab, told Yonhap News Agency.
AI interviews are usually conducted with job applicants placed in front of a camera that is embedded in a smartphone or a laptop. The questions asked vary, depending on what an employer wants to learn about applicants. They usually open with a request that the applicant introduce himself.
Another common question is what an applicant would do when he finds himself in trouble. Examples are: “You are on a trip with your friend. What would you do if your friend doesn’t like the hotel you have selected as much as you do?” or “A moving company has somehow failed to take refrigerator from your old house to your new one. What would you say to the company staff responsible?”
If an employer wants to know how well an applicant understand the job he would do, job-specific questions may be asked during an AI interview. As part of an interview, an AI software is made to make observations about an applicant playing games with an AI program and, based on the findings, determine how qualified he is for the work they would do.
Cases involving AI replacing humans in conducting job interviews have recently made headlines. About 200 companies are currently using AI interview programs as part of their recruiting process, says Midas IT Co., an AI software developer and service provider.
According to a survey of 500 companies with 300 or more on their payroll conducted by the Korea Economic Research Institute, more than 20 percent said they are using or planning to use AI interview programs as part of their recruitment process.
AI assistance is good for companies recruiting a large number of job applicants fresh out of school once a year, as may Korean business conglomerates do. It is not easy for a company to process thousands of applications at a time.
“With the help of AI interview programs, HR staff may save much time and energy in processing a large number of applications,” says Ken Park, CEO of Knowru Limited, a company that sells AI software. Moreover, he says, a company saves expenses on transportation and accommodation provided for applicants coming from distant places.
Another advantage is that AI-assisted interviews help preclude outside influence and personal biases from the recruitment process. It is not unusual for politicians and other powerful people to peddle influence to have their children employed. Nor is it deniable that a human interviewer may have a bias against the looks one has or the regional accent one speaks.
The outcome of an AI interview is rarely, if ever, used as a final say in recruitment. It is instead used as a tool of screening out the unqualified or as a mere reference as in the case of LG Electronics and Nexen Tire. JoongAng Daily recently reported 4,000 applicants failed to make the cut when a pharmaceutical company conducted AI interviews in the second half of last year.
There is no saying what power AI interviews will have in the future, though, given that AI algorithms perform better than Go world champions and read X-ray films better than medical doctors.
But an employment consultant is claiming that an AI interview is going downhill and that job applicants should not worry too much about them. Kim Do-yoon, job counselor at Better Than Today Co. says, “Regard an AI interview as a lie detector. Its original mission is find out if you are the same person as stated in the application form you have submitted.”
By Sunny Um WIRED Korea