SmartRecruiters Blog

Hiring by Algorithm. The New Self-Checkout of HR

Last week I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed a hiring strategy by Xerox involving big data. When it comes to their customer service call centers, they are leaving the traditional interview process behind and hiring solely based on how candidates score using a test. Welcome to the bright and brave new world of hiring with big data.

I call this hiring by algorithm, and apparently it works for them. Xerox has cut their turnover by more than one fifth, saving them millions of dollars in bad hires, and leaving the candidate with no person to relate to or learn about the hiring process. I can only suggest that we fully automate the entire human resource process next, or maybe we’ll just build our workforce of cyborgs and robots?
I liken this new trend in the human resources and business industry and their reliance on big data as the primary tool in which to base hiring as well as business trends to the automatic checkout. Hiring by algorithm is the new self-checkout of HR.

Thousands of companies will rush to hiring solely based on big data leaving the traditional interview process and putting human touch to bed. I agree the hiring process is broken, but hiring solely by computer is not the fix. These organizations will be influenced by a single article and make a million dollar or billion dollar recruiting strategy change just because Xerox said so. I am sad that business leaders are so naive and gullible to believe.

Super market chains rushed to add self-checkouts to their stores for many naming calling it the biggest payroll cost reduction in the history of retail. Ten years ago I remember training my first group of cashiers on the new system which I foolishly told them would reduce theft and improve the customer experience, saving us thousands of dollars in shrink and millions of dollars in payroll expense just because some company had success once. It never did any of those things.

What self-checkout did do was make customers angry and removing customer service from the transaction. Those self-checkouts never seemed to work ever either user operating error or some random one off problem that seemed to surface at the most inopportune times. As a customer in my own store or others I frequented, I avoided the self checkout all together.

I’m not alone as self-checkout only accounts for 16% of all shopping market transactions in 2011. Imagine what hiring by algorithm will do to the candidate experience. Hiring by algorithm is not a one size fits all solution for your corporate recruitment strategy. There are human elements that computers cannot understand or predict. If that was the case, I should have been a librarian according to that computer career simulation test I took in 1996 and again 2000.
@blogging4jobs blogsJessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. When she talks, people listen. Also, connect with her on Pinterest @blogging4jobs. Photo Credit BatBase, Instagram.


Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.