Are machines better than HR professionals when it comes to hiring the best employees? Regardless of your job position, you are probably thinking, “No way! You can’t replace the human touch when it comes to finding the best employees.” But the National Bureau of Economic Research (NEBR) says the machines win hands down.
The NBER studied 15 companies that hired more than 300,000 low-skill workers doing jobs like data entry and call center work. The researchers created an algorithm and used it to categorize applicants based on technical skills, personality and cognitive skills. Each applicant was labeled green, yellow or red. Green were the applicants with the highest potential, the reds were the lowest.
When HR managers hired according to the results, the greens stayed longer than the yellows, and the yellows stayed longer than the reds. But since those HR managers are, after all, human… they often felt their opinions of the applicants trumped the computer’s and hired those yellows and reds anyway. When researchers looked at their choices, the results were as they expected. Those reds and yellows never stuck around as long as the greens.
Whether they were “going with their gut” or just refusing to trust the machine, the HR human’s results suffered in comparison. The researchers chalk it up to bias- either conscious or unconscious. Something as simple as an applicant and a hiring manager growing up in the same region or wearing a similar shirt can be enough to sway a decision and lead to a job offer based on perceived “chemistry” instead of hard facts that his person would be a good fit.
Several companies are popping up in the automated hiring space. It will be interesting to see how HR managers feel about it once it becomes a more accepted practice. But just a warning… regardless of who chooses your next hire- man or machine- there is still no replacement for thorough background screening before any new hires walk through your doors.