AI hiring tools do not reduce interview bias, say Cambridge researchers

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) hiring tools that are designed to reduce interview bias do not work as well as their creators claim, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge.

Interview bias takes many shapes and forms, but usually crops up within the very first minute of a job interview. Maybe the interviewer forms an opinion of the candidate based on their appearance, or holds onto something they say at the outset which causes doubt. It’s worth noting that interview bias can be both positive and negative; The bottom line is it can significantly influence the overall decision one way or the other.

To combat interview bias, a number of AI tools have been developed. These solutions are supposed to eliminate interview bias and boost workplace diversity.

However, University of Cambridge researchers have published a paper that basically says AI hiring tools promise a lot but deliver little.

Publishing their findings in the journal Philosophy and Technology, the researchers went as far as to say such AI hiring tools are no more than “pseudoscience” and do not reduce recruitment bias.

“We are concerned that some vendors are wrapping ‘snake oil’ products in a shiny package and selling them to unsuspecting customers,” said co-author Dr Eleanor Drage, a researcher in AI ethics.

“By claiming that racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination can be stripped away from the hiring process using artificial intelligence, these companies reduce race and gender down to insignificant data points, rather than systems of power that shape how we move through the world.”

The paper also outlines how, in 2020, an international survey of nearly 500 HR professionals revealed that a quarter were using AI for "talent acquisition, in the form of automation", highlighting how widespread the use of such tools is.

AI hiring tools come in many forms, from chatbots and resume scrapers which can whittle down potential interview candidates, to analysis software for video interviews.

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