Amazon’s AI hiring technology to screen job applicants

by Satavisa Pati November 25, 2022

Amazon's AI hiring technology to screen job applicants

Amazon’s AI technology is now ready to start hiring and screening applicants

Last week, Amazon offered buyout bids for hundreds of its recruiters, amid a likely month-long cycle of layoffs that has angered and unnerved employees across the company. Now, Recode has seen a confidential internal document that raises the question of whether a new artificial intelligence technology the company began experimenting with last year will one day replace some of those employees.

According to an internal paper dated October 2021, marked “Amazon confidential,” the tech giant has been working for at least the last year to hand off some of its recruiters’ tasks to an AI technology that aims to predict which job applicants will be in specific jobs Business and warehouse jobs will thrive in a specific role and get them to an interview quickly — without the involvement of a human recruiter. The technology works in part by finding similarities between the resumes of current, high-performing Amazon employees and those of applicants applying for similar jobs.

The technology, known internally as Automated Applicant Evaluation (AAE), was developed by a group in Amazon’s human resources department known as the Artificial Intelligence Recruitment Team and first tested last year. Amazon first built AI hiring technology in the mid-2010s, but stopped using its system after showing a bias against women.

In an initial test, Amazon’s HR department believed that new machine learning models were successful in protecting against racial and gender bias, the internal document said. Artificial intelligence has been increasingly used in hiring across industries in recent years, but questions remain about its role in introducing or reinforcing biases that can occur in hiring processes.

Amazon has invested heavily in trying to automate various types of work for years. In 2012, the company acquired a warehouse robots company called Kiva, whose robots reduced the need for warehouse workers to walk miles on the job while increasing the pace and repetition of their work.

Amazon has continued to look for other ways to automate its warehouses and introduce new robots, in part because the company is ransacking so many frontline workers that it has at times feared it might stop hiring in some U.S. regions. In its corporate wing, Amazon previously implemented an initiative called Hands Off the Wheel, which took inventory ordering and other responsibilities out of the hands of retail department employees and turned them over to technology.

Now, with the creation and expanded use of AAE technology, the roles of recruiters within the second-largest private-sector employer in the U.S. could change permanently, potentially reducing the number of employees Amazon needs to hire.

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