Fortune

WHERE DOES THE ALGORITHM SEE YOU IN 10 YEARS?

Artificial intelligence has come to hiring, and could change staffing and careers forever. Should we be cheering—or afraid?

A FEW YEARS AGO, Jason Freedman was confronted by a classic hiring challenge. The 10-person startup he had founded, an online commercial real estate service called 42Floors.com, was growing and needed to rapidly staff up. Suddenly, it seemed, Freedman, who had myriad other duties as CEO, was spending hours at a time sifting through towering stacks of résumés. He was overwhelmed.

The solution appeared in the form of artificial intelligence software from a young company called Interviewed. It speeds the vetting process by providing online simulations of what applicants might do on their first day as an employee. The software does much more than grade multiple-choice questions. It can capture not only so-called book knowledge but also more intangible human qualities. It uses natural-language processing and machine learning to construct a psychological profile that predicts whether a person will fit a company’s culture. That includes assessing which words he or she favors—a penchant for using “please” and “thank you,” for example, shows empathy and a possible disposition for working with customers—and measuring how well the applicant can juggle conversations and still pay attention to detail. “We can look at 4,000 candidates and within a few days whittle it down to the top 2% to 3%,” claims Freedman, whose company now employs 45 people. “Forty-eight hours later, we’ve hired someone.” It’s not perfect, he says, but it’s faster and better than the human way.

It isn’t just startups using such software; corporate behemoths are implementing it too. Artificial intelligence has come to hiring.

Predictive algorithms and machine learning are fast emerging as tools to identify the best candidates. Companies are using

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