One US manager hit the headlines recently in the business word when he announced that he had an innovative new way of checking up on the people who had applied to work with his company – checking up on their Uber rating. A manager at an investment firm looked at the rating given to customers by Uber drivers, justifying his decision by saying that people who treat strangers like Uber drivers well are more likely to treat their colleagues and customers well too. But did this innovative tactic pay off?


Problems with the Uber Algorithm

You can see the logic in the manager’s approach. However, there are a few drawbacks with using something like an Uber rating to decide which candidates to invite to interview, or even which person to hire. There are also other factors which could affect how someone is rated as an Uber customer, apart from how reliable and friendly they are. Women have reported low ratings from male drivers who made advances towards them and were rejected, for example. People who have only used the app a couple of times and had a bad experience may have a low rating through no fault of their own. Although this idea of using an algorithm to shortlist applicants might seem quick and easy, it certainly has its drawbacks.


Smart Algorithms

Other companies using artificial intelligence to help with their recruitment aren’t relying on something as raw as the Uber rating. Algorithms and computer programs are used in conjunction with standard, tried and tested screening methods such as face to face interviews or psychometric testing. Algorithms can be used at the early stages of the process though, to scan through online applications for key phrases or qualifications, or to crawl through social media profiles to flag up anything which may be of concern.


But Does it Work?

Many management experts believe that employers are only doing half a job when it comes to checking up on candidates using computer technology and algorithms. There has been very little research into whether using a computer program to filter recruits or analyse interview body language actually works. Does using this technology mean you get better employees than doing things in the old-fashioned way? Algorithms and technology can be expensive, and arguably, the money could be better spent by hiring an admin assistant to fact check applicant CVs and screen them manually.


Can You Beat the Algorithm?

As an applicant, knowing you will be screened by a computer is daunting. Is it possible to succeed and beat the computer? The trouble is that you are never totally sure which keywords or phrases the algorithm is looking for in your application. The best advice is to make sure you use the language and phrases in the job advert rather than your own words. For example, if an advert states a requirement for “a professional qualification in marketing”, make sure you use that phrase somewhere in your application.