Unconscious bias can creep in at several points during the selection and recruitment stage, warns James Meachin, Head of Assessment at business psychologists Pearn Kandola. Algorithms have a place because we know that when employers are left to their own devices, they are capable of conscious or unconscious bias, says Mr Meachin. “Algorithms give us an objective measurement for what we think we’re measuring. An algorithm just guarantees that you’re measuring something in an objective way.”
However, it’s a mistake to say computers can identify talent, says Chris Dewberry, Senior Lecturer in organisational psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. “Computers can be programmed to collect some data relevant to selection. But since it’s humans who decide which tests to use and humans who decide how to combine responses to items to obtain total scores, it’s ultimately humans who are deciding who is selected, not computers,” says Dr Dewberry. So how will the future look for candidate selection?
Traditionally, many large corporates have used algorithms to sift through huge swathes of online applications in a bid to secure the perfect candidate for the role and to make the process as objective as possible. However, in the last year or two, large corporates have started to use algorithms to recruit beyond the pool of candidates produced by the Russell Group of universities in a bid to improve their diversity profile.