Amazon’s AI Hiring Technology to Screen Job Applicants

by Satavisa Pati November 25, 2022

Amazon’s AI technology is now all set to start hiring and screening job applicants

Last week, Amazon extended buyout offers to hundreds of its recruiters as part of what is expected to be a months-long cycle of layoffs that has left corporate employees across the company angered and on edge. Now, Recode has viewed a confidential internal document that raises the question of whether a new artificial intelligence technology that the company began experimenting with last year will one day replace some of these employees.

According to an October 2021 internal paper labeled as “Amazon confidential,” the tech giant has been working for at least the last year to hand over some of its recruiters’ tasks to an AI technology that aims to predict which job applicants across certain corporate and warehouse jobs will be successful in a given role and fast-track them to an interview — without a human recruiter’s involvement. The technology works in part by finding similarities between the resumes of current, well-performing Amazon employees and those of job applicants applying for similar jobs.

The technology, known internally as Automated Applicant Evaluation, or AAE, was built by a group in Amazon’s HR division known as the Artificial Intelligence Recruitment team and was first tested last year. Amazon first built AI hiring technology in the mid-2010s but discontinued the use of its system after it demonstrated a bias against women.

In an initial test, Amazon’s HR division believed that new machine learning models successfully guarded against biases based on race and gender, according to the internal document. Artificial intelligence has become more widely used in hiring across industries in recent years, but there remain questions about its role in introducing or amplifying biases that may occur in hiring processes.

Amazon has for years invested heavily in trying to automate different types of work. In 2012, the company acquired a warehouse robotics company called Kiva, whose robots reduced the need for warehouse workers to walk miles on the job but simultaneously increased the pace and repetitiveness of their work.

Amazon has continued to research other ways to automate its warehouses and introduce new robots, in part, because the company churns through so many front-line workers that it has at times feared running out of people to hire in some US regions. In its corporate wing, Amazon previously implemented an initiative called “hands off the wheel” that took inventory ordering and other responsibilities out of the hands of retail division employees and handed them over to technology.

Now, with the creation and expanded usage of AAE technology, the roles of recruiters inside the second-largest private sector employer in the US could be altered permanently, potentially reducing the number of people Amazon needs to employ.

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