Skip to comments.Maybe we should just let computers decide who gets a job
Posted on 11/28/2015 7:16:03 PM PST by Kaslin
Should computers decide who gets a job? That’s a question recently asked by Government Executive Magazine which looked at a study of hiring practices and how much hiring recommendations generated by standardized testing differed from managers who “went with their gut” in terms of eventual employee performance and retention. The results were, at least as I read it, a bit muddled.
First of all, the test subjects they looked at were all applicants for low skill service jobs. (Such as you’d find for new hires at call centers or data entry firms.) They were all given standardized tests and those results were passed on to client firm managers who could either hire the top scoring applicants or use their own impressions and disregard the test results.
The tests included not only questions about technical and cognitive skills, but also questions to assess personality and overall fit for the firm. The companies hired HR managers and gave them the test results (coded as green for best scores, yellow for moderate, and red for lowest) but also gave them the ability to factor in other qualities that they thought might make for good hires. Essentially giving them the go ahead to pick candidates with lower scores if they thought that theyâd in fact be good candidates. That's when things went off the rails.
According to the study, when managers used their discretion to override the hiring order implied by the test results (by hiring an applicant who perhaps had a score in the yellow range, when one in the green range was available) the outcomes, of both tenure and productivity, were worse.
These results suggest, at least in part, that using a hiring algorithm – in essence turning the decision primarily over to a data management system – could produce better results. But even the authors of the study acknowledge that it’s just not as simple as all that.
But on the other hand relegating people and the firms they work for to data points focuses only on the success of firms in terms of productivity and tenure, and that might be a shallow way of interpreting what makes a company successful. Firms that are populated only by high-achieving test takers could run the risk of becoming full of people who are all the same from similar schools, or with the same types of education, similar personality traits, or the same views. And that could potentially stall some of the hard work being done in the effort to introduce more diversity of every kind into companies all over the country. And that type of diversity, too, has been proven to be an increasingly important factor in overall firm performance.
As with most things in the business world, these are decisions with long term impacts which can vary significantly based on where you are in the food and power chains. If you’re hiring somebody to do little more than punch numbers into a spreadsheet or assemble fast food orders, some basic skills testing might indeed be the most predictive ruling factor. After all, you wouldn’t want to hire someone based on their winning smile and assurances of being a hard worker only to find out that they’ve never used a keyboard other than the one of their Android phone. But even then there are other factors to consider. Is the person a dedicated worker who shows maturity and responsibility? Are they interested in not only meeting but exceeding expectations in the hopes of advancing their career? You won’t get that from a test, and sometimes it’s only the eye and ear of a skilled interviewer who picks such things up.
When you move up the food chain to senior employees and middle managers, such tests are essentially useless. You’re going to be looking at the resume and their references in addition to your own gut instincts. If they weren’t capable of performing the basic functions of the job they never would have risen far enough to be considered for a job with greater responsibilities. (With some exceptions for government work, granted.) Sometimes you have to meet a person, look them in the eye and shake their hand before you get a sense of what you’re really getting. Sure, there are some top notch actors out there who may fool you, but that tends to be found out rather quickly once they’re on the firing line.
Algorithms and computers may be a fine addition for low level entry work, but a human is going to be able to leave them in the dust for important jobs. Then again, if we’d let HAL select the astronauts for the 2001 mission we might never have found the obelisk, so…
The company is in business to make money -- it should get the best team available.
Even if they all went to the same college.
Why not cut the government down to a size at which it can be run entirely by computers? A single computer can easily replace 100 retarded government union bureaucrats who are paid $300,000 each.
Please read the SCOTUS decision in Griggs vs Duke Power Co.
They are that dense?
HR people should only be allowed to hire for the HR department. They have no idea how the other departments work or what they need. They have no idea of the nuances of personality that you look for in a lab tech and how that differs from what you look for in a salesman.
They can measure skills somewhat but unless they spend a great deal of time in a department they have no idea what is needed to fit into that department.
Secondly, the article danced around one of the big reasons why a company would use discretion, racial and gender quotas. The government will never stop social engineering, but they find it too distasteful to be obvious about it. So they would never require software to pick a certain percentage from bucket A and a certain percentage from bucket B. They need to be discrete, so they have to keep humans in the loop.
Not sure what size companies you're used to working for, but every large company over 5,000 employees that I've been with since 1997, HR *does* make all hiring and firing decisions and "managers" are responsible to simply "manage" their resources.
Yep, that's why it SUCKS to work in a big company in America these days.
Computers already scan your resume to see if you have right buzz words in it
Yes, I know exactly who decides who gets hired and that is why I am against them being allowed to do so.
One hire was a young lady who had the most annoying voice it has ever been my misfortune to hear. We were taking orders by phone and her shrieking would drown out what the customer was saying. It was no surprise that order errors shot through the roof.
They decided that it would be wise to hire a militant vegan for a department that had opening day as their floating holiday.
They hired a germa-phobe to take blood samples from livestock.
Apparently I've got a good resume. I never HAVE to apply for a job. I get three to ten pitches of people coming to me trying to hire me, every single week.
And they’re all little liberal snowflakes? LOL
As long as we’re making money — who cares?
Computers are racist because they were programmed by white privileged people. /sarc.
Oh come on...not all of the Millennials are worthless wussy little brats, but many are !
Great idea !!!
“The tests included not only questions about technical and cognitive skills, but also questions to assess personality..”
AKA as MMPI which should be reviewed and graded only by a trained mental health professional who has the test taker as a patient or will be submitting the test results to the patient’s doctor. It is a gross invasion of privacy to make a psych eval part of the initial screening process for potential hires.
There are a few HR recruiters with a very high level of skill in interviewing and picking people.
I will give two examples.
My father was the personnel director of a sales organization, and his main task was to recruit college seniors who would make good salesmen. Obviously, any mistakes would be very expensive in terms of wasted training, time, and salary. He was so skilled the president of the company trusted him totally, and gave him complete freedom to hire whoever he thought would be suitable.
In the late 80s, when I was working in the computer field, I attended a two-day course in personnel interviewing with my boss, my boss’s boss, and a number of other managers. As part of the course, the teacher would interview one of us, and then we would interview each other. The teacher was so good it he could find out everything about you with a few simple questions in twenty minutes. The class was miles behind; it was like a bunch of 18-handicappers practicing golf with a PGA pro. Nobody could believe the level of skill this guy had.
Not to wander off the beaten trail, but why not take it to computers to decide just who would be ideal as our next President? There was a SiFi story written years ago with this plot. Haven’t a clue of author nor title. Highly intelligent and quality individuals attempted to out-smart the computer. If no individual was found, the computer (naturally) took the position.
*Colossus: The Forbin Project* used this plot roughly in the movie. Rather than President the computer(s) took over the national security issues.
If computers can play chess why not. We’ve given the position to won with far less experience.
So they say, but they also say a lot that aint so.
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