An AI Cartoon May Interview You For Your Next Job

The cartoon interviewer greets you on screen. He looks a little young to be asking questions about a job—sort of a cartoon version of Harry Potter, with dark hair and glasses. You can choose other interviewers to speak with instead, representing various genders and races with names like Benjamin, Leslie, and Kristin. Alex, the name given to this AI interviewer, asks about your professional experience, theoretical questions about programming, and then gives out a coding exercise.

Alex is an AI interviewer developed by micro1, a US company that describes itself as an AI recruitment engine for engineers. The tech provides an “enjoyable, gamified, and less-biased interview process,” the company’s founder, Ali Ansari, claims in a demo video of the tech.

The use of AI tools in job hunting is becoming widespread. Career sites like Indeed and LinkedIn have incorporated generative AI tools for job seekers and recruiters into their platforms. There are interviewer chatbots companies can enable, as well as AI tools to help people practice for job interviews. But the use of AI in evaluating candidates has mixed reviews: Some HR tools have been caught making negative judgements on applicants who have Black-sounding names, giving preference to men, or skipping over candidates with employment gaps on resumes.

AI tools in hiring save companies money and time, but the long-term implications for workers have yet to be realized.

Ansari tells WIRED that this tool allows companies to “screen candidates in a much more efficient and accurate manner.” Micro1 splits its model into two formats: Companies can employ the software to interview candidates for specific roles, and rather than picking through a sample size of thousands of applicants, can screen endless masses of candidates with the AI interviewer. Or, candidates can go through the process independently to be added to a marketplace of engineers. The internal marketplace has a talent pool of vetted engineers—from India, Argentina, Brazil, and other countries far from American tech hubs —who Ansari describes as “untapped but exceptional.” This, he says, may help diversify who gets to work in top tech jobs. “We become the way into Silicon Valley,” Ansari says.

Of course there’s still bias with AI tools, Ansari says. “Of course there’s also bias with humans. The goal with the AI system is to make it much less biased than humans.” With AI, Ansari explains, the AI interviewer on micro1 won’t pass or fail a candidate; instead, it places them into categories like inexperienced, mid-level, and senior. Then, Ansari says, it’s on the hiring manager or recruiter to decide if the candidate is a good fit for the role. They can also listen to audio recordings of the responses rather than relying solely on the AI interviewer to interpret them.

Zahira Jaser, an associate professor at the University of Sussex Business School, says a lot remains unknown about the impact of AI and asynchronous interviewing—including how the tech affects candidates. Recording oneself can be awkward, and there are no human cues to pick up on from an AI interviewer. After being told to act naturally and put their best foot forward in the already nerve-wracking process of human job interviews throughout their career, people may not know how to show their best self to a chatbot, particularly when they’re up against opaque, built-in biases of AI.

“In the real world, humans are biased. But there are techniques to which we can overcome this human bias,” Jaser says. “In an algorithm-driven bias, this Is likely to be very systematic.” For example, some AI hiring tools are trained on profiles of past successful employees, raising concerns that they will repeat past biased hiring practices.

For now, these AI tools don’t have the final say in who gets hired. But they increasingly have sway over which applicants get face time with a real human, and that can have a massive impact on what the workforce looks like going forward.

But if you ask Ansari, there is an alternative path for interviews in the future: He believes job seekers may also use AI-driven avatars to interview for jobs with AI interviewers, relegating the painful, tedious parts of initial job searchers to computers entirely. AI could make “really good matches” between job seekers and companies, Ansari says. “And then the company and the candidate can spend their actual time on a Zoom call or in-person interview.”

Source : Wired