I’m breaking from my usual posts about HR tech and the future of jobs to give a quick update as I’ve had a few weeks of increased traffic.
So hello everyone. I invite you to enjoy the HR tech rants, question the narratives you read about the future of work, and leave with a podcast recommendation.
I work at the intersection of international education and the future of work. I kind of hate that future of work is a term because really, it’s already here. My passion for culture and language is as strong as my obsession with AI technology and the changing nature of work. There aren’t a lot of us working in this niche but if this is you I’d love to connect on LinkedIn. You can also join the GlobalMe community here.
So much of the future of work is US centric. I’m investigating how new technology and AI are shaping other cultures as well as the US. I’m interested in new companies, roles, and HR tech across borders.
I’m also redefining how we train people for global careers. I founded GlobalMe School to change how we prepare students and professionals for global careers and the future of work. I’m training a next generation of job seekers how to seek out future-proof careers and build cutting edge skills.
It appears the use of AI in the hiring process is finally hitting mainstream awareness. The Wall Street Journal just released a video report about the role of artificial intelligence in the job search. As part of their Moving Upstream series that explores new trends and technologies, the WSJ investigated two companies that use artificial intelligence to decide if you get hired: HireVue and DeepSense.
The video is worth watching, especially if you’re in the job search or working in career services.
The video begins with an introduction to HireVue, a platform that uses machine learning to assess and rank users on their video interview performance. The video provides an overview of the scoring process and the science behind their facial analysis software from HireVue’s chief psychologist. The company uses millions of data points taken from a candidate’s facial expressions, language choice, and tone of voice to measure and determine a candidate’s fit for a job.
There’s a notable part of the video when the journalist asks the psychologist if all interview videos are reviewed by a human. The psychologist chooses his words carefully, noting that recruiters could watch all the videos if they wanted. But we all know that’s not likely. HireVue exists to make the interview process more efficient. Their product is marketed as a way to save time. It’s not efficient if recruiters have to watch every video.
Later in the the video we meet a college student. He estimates that almost half of his interviews have taken place on HireVue. He’s not a huge fan because he thinks it’s hard to show his true self in video interviews.
There’s likely another reason he dislikes it: Interview preparation requires hours of preparation. Thinking on your feet and providing authentic, yet impactful responses, takes a lot of work in the interview process. It’s hard enough knowing you have to impress a human. But knowing a human many never hear your answers is disappointing. It’s the resume black hole on steroids.
The video report includes some welcome skepticism towards new HR tech from Ifeoma Ajunwa, sociologist and law professor at Cornell University. When asked about the validity of microexpressions, she explains:
It’s still a developing science. The important thing is, there is no clear established pattern of what facial expression is needed for any job. Applicants can be eliminated for facial expressions that have nothing to do with the job.”
AI is Changing the Entire Hiring Process
Artificial intelligence isn’t just changing interviews. It’s changing how candidates are hired at every stage of the hiring process. The WSJ video goes on to profile Deepsense, an AI platform that builds a behavioral profile for every person. The company creates a behavioral profile based on social data taken from publicly available data from sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.
The DeepSense AI process
Then they use the data to “run scientifically based tests to surface people’s personality traits.” In a separate article, the cofounder and CEO of Frrole (which developed DeepSense), notes: “One thing people don’t realize is that how little data is required to start making deductions about you, and probably correct enough.”
Screenshot of Deepsense dashboard from WSJ video report
Probably correct enough. That’s tough to read when the stakes are so high. The job search is an emotionally exhausting process. Job seekers have families to support, dreams to achieve, health insurance to secure, and bills to pay. They expect to be evaluated fairly and accurately. Probably correct enough isn’t enough in a high stakes situation.
Currently a big five consulting firm is using their service.
The potential for discrimination and bias with new HR technology is high. How do you ensure your public data is correct? How do you challenge the methodology behind the collection/selection of that data? How do you know if you’ve been discriminated against if it’s all done by algorithmic decision?
Beyond the potential for discrimination and bias coded into algorithms, there’s another disturbing bit of information from that video: job seekers may not know they’re being evaluated by an algorithm. As the WSJ reporter notes:
“I go into this knowing something that HireVue acknowledges many job candidates potentially do not. That my responses are being assessed not by human beings, but by AI, analyzing my tone of voice, the clusters of words I use, and my microexpressions.”
Do people know that every post, article, tweet they put on line can now be analyzed and scored as a basis for hiring? These questions, and plenty more, urgently need answers as companies implement new hiring technology.
This podcast episode caught me totally off guard. I’ve been listening to ZigZag, a podcast that follows Manoush Zomorodi (who hosted the incredible Note to Self podcast) and Jen Poyant as they build a new kind of media company built on cryptocurrency. It’s a show they describe as “a podcast about changing the course of capitalism, journalism, and women’s lives. For real.” And that’s completely accurate. ZigZag has also made the subject of crypto so much less douchey and boring.
So when I saw that Anthony Bourdain was making a posthumous appearance on ZigZag I was pretty surprised. The episode features a recorded conversation between reporter Maria Bustillios and Anthony Bourdain over a meal in mid-town Manhattan. It’s a beautiful conversation, filled with disagreements, and perspective exchange, stories, and everything else you might expect to have with him. The story behind how the reporter got the interview is equally interesting.
What are the jobs of the future and when will they get here? The answer is now. Mya Systems makes a chatbot that conducts interviews. They work at the cutting edge of Natural Language Processing and are making waves in HR Tech spaces. (full disclosure: I contract with them to design chatbots). They’re also hiring for cutting edge jobs like this one: Language Annotator. It’s a contract role for a current student, ideally someone in the liberal arts! They’re looking for a student with literature or philosophy background with strong communication skills and an understanding of machine learning. Bonus if they’ve got foreign language skills. This post touches my machine-learning-obsessed-and-liberal-arts-loving soul.
The jobs of the future are hybrid jobs. Hybrid jobs combine soft skills with digital skills. You’ll find hybrid jobs through out the job listings; popular hybrid jobs right now are product managers and data translators.
These are the jobs we need to train students and alumni for in order to prepare them for an automated workforce. The future of work is already here.