What the Case of Amazon’s AI Powered Recruitment Tool Means for Other Corporates

The Pervasive Use of AI Powered Recruitment Tools

Increasingly, many large and medium sized as well as small businesses are turning to AI or Artificial Intelligence powered algorithms and software in their HR or Human Resources processes.

Whether it is recruitment where AI driven software “parses” through the mass of resumes in a jiffy and finds the best (or at least the best according to the way in which the algorithms are coded) possible match from the available resume pool or in training and development where real time AI driven learning and tests are made available to the employees, the pervasive use of such technologies is becoming more popular among firms of all sizes and niches.

Indeed, it would not be an understatement to say that the entire End to End HR Value Chain is being automated using earlier generation technologies as well as new gen and cutting edge software and tools that are powered by AI.

The Advantages of AI in Recruitment and Selection Processes

While there are some obvious benefits to using AI powered tools for HR processes especially in terms of the efficiencies from the economies of scale and the synergies from automation of the HR value chain, there are some downsides as well since technology and its use eliminates or reduces the “human element” that is so crucial to a business function such as HR where decisions are taken intuitively and through gut feel.

Let’s start with the pros or the advantages of using AI for HR processes. In earlier days, corporates and their HR staff were constrained by the sheer numbers of resumes that would land in their inboxes everyday as well as in response to targeted and specific ads that they would put out in various media outlets.

The practice of “bombarding” the employer with thousands of resumes from just about anybody and everybody and from anywhere and everywhere was also encouraged by the many online job sites which sometimes had a paid service known as “resume blasting” which allowed the applicants to send their resumes to all possible employers.

In such cases, the corporates at the receiving end of that many resumes would then sift through them by keyword selection and by taking the help of the aforementioned job sites in selecting the right matches.

It is obvious to anyone that this process is not only time consuming but also less than optimal since there was a high chance of the wrong resumes being selected whereas deserving and high quality applicants were not even shortlisted.

This is where AI driven software comes in handy to the corporates as their HR staff or the Recruitment teams can simply “feed” all the resumes automatically into it and then, let it do the sorting.

In addition to saving time, this practice also allows the HR team to drill down to as much granularity as possible and as arrive at as close a fitment as possible.

Thus, AI in the recruitment process does indeed reap the employers much benefit in terms of scale and synergies. What more, the possibility of “back door” entries by unscrupulous candidates with ties and links to compromised “insiders” within firms was also reduced if not totally eliminated?

What the Recent Case of Amazon’s AI Recruitment Tool is a Wake Up Call

Having said that, there are some downsides to using AI in recruitment as well. While such technology might be handy at the resume short listing stage, some concerns about this phase being compromised have come to light in recent weeks.

For instance, the world’s leading online retailer, Amazon, had to “retire” its AI powered recruitment tool as it was found to be “biased” against female applicants.

Though this might seem surprising to many especially when one considers how AI is a machine like entity and hence, the possibility of “human biases” do not creep into it, there is always the likelihood that it can be “programmed” to mimic human decision making and this is where one thinks that despite AI and technology being “value neutral”, the people in charge can still “manipulate” it for their selfish ends.

Indeed, the fact that American corporates proudly declare their “color blindness” as far as recruitment and selection is concerned and boast of bias free selection and interviewing were in for a surprise with this latest development in Amazon means that the downsides of using AI in recruitment have not yet been “fully thought through”.

In other words, while technology was supposed to do away with the “middlemen and middle women” and thus, eliminate the possibility of “gaming the system”, the fact that the “gatekeepers” of such technologies within the corporates can still hold the power to program it the way they want is surprising only to those who forget the successive waves of new technologies and the euphoric promise which heralded their emergence followed by a pessimistic and cynical resignation of “the more things change, the more they remain the same”.

The Perils of Relying on Technology Alone

Lastly, the case of Amazon is like the “Canary in the Coalmine” wherein the dangers of relying on AI too much are similar to the ones depicted in the movie, Jurassic Park, where the crooked character passes on the crucial trade secrets to outsiders thereby turning a revolutionary experiment into a nightmare.

Indeed, if not anything Amazon’s decision to do away with its recruitment software should serve as a wakeup call to others believing in the magical power of technology.

To conclude, AI in recruitment remains to be a game changer provided there are safeguards in place to prevent its misuse.


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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


Human Resource Management