Computer Says No

Computer Says No

If you’re applying for a job today, your application could go through several stages before it is seen by a human. BBC journalist and former recruiter Daniel Henry deep dives into this new world of algorithm and computer-automated hiring. Daniel’s journey begins at the first stage of a job application – writing your CV. At the University of Liverpool, he is given tips from their student career advisors about how best to tailor his CV so it isn’t rejected by software used to select applicants to progress to the next stage. Stage two is often a video interview, which again could be marked automatically on the basis of a computer programme searching for key words. 

In a series of exclusive interviews, Daniel reveals the story of three former employees of Mac Makeup who lost their jobs in part due to a video interview, which used facial analysis technology. Disgusted that their interviews were not even reviewed by a real person, these women took legal action against Estee Lauder, eventually reaching an agreement outside of court. Hirevue, whose platform was used in this redundancy process, defend their platform against any accusation of bias. They have since dropped the facial analysis technology from their products. 

With the roll out of AI hiring speeding up, Daniel is keen to look at the accuracy of technology that might be used by companies. With the help of academics, he discovers how race, gender and emotion can be misinterpreted by some facial analysis technology, and he finds out that voice transcription services still struggle with accuracy when faced with regional UK accents. Finally, Daniel meets Ollie, who is autistic and has ADHD. He has struggled to find a graduate job for two years. Nat of the Exceptional Individuals Agency, which supports neuro-divergent people in the workplace, finds his story sadly unsurprising. 

Daniel looks at whether game-play or puzzle-based online tests set by some employers might help, but the truth is what works for one individual might not work for another. The film ends with some solid advice on how to make sure you are ready for the job hunt in a world which is fast becoming dominated by tech. And if you’re certain that the computer has it wrong, for reasons that aren’t fair, then you ought to call it out. No technology is perfect, and what is affecting you today, could be affecting far more of us down the line if left unchecked.

Computer Says No – Tuesday 8.05pm on BBC3

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