Meet the New Boss: Big Data

21. September 2012

Date: 20-09-2012
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Companies Trade In Hunch-Based Hiring for Computer Modeling.

At an increasing number of companies, the hiring boss for rank and file jobs is now an algorithm — and the computers are considering factors that are very different than what applicants have come to expect. Joseph Walker has details on The News Hub.

When looking for workers to staff its call centers, Xerox Corp. used to pay lots of attention to applicants who had done the job before. Then, a computer program told the printer and outsourcing company that experience doesn’t matter.

The software said that what does matter in a good call-center worker—one who won’t quit before the company recoups its $5,000 investment in training—is personality. Data show that creative types tend to stick around for the necessary six months. Inquisitive people often don’t.

“Some of the assumptions we had weren’t valid,” said Connie Harvey, Xerox’s chief operating officer of commercial services.

After a half-year trial that cut attrition by a fifth, Xerox now leaves all hiring for its 48,700 call-center jobs to software that asks applicants to choose between statements like: “I ask more questions than most people do” and “People tend to trust what I say.”

For more and more companies, the hiring boss is an algorithm. The factors they consider are different than what applicants have come to expect. Jobs that were once filled on the basis of work history and interviews are left to personality tests and data analysis, as employers aim for more than just a hunch that a person will do the job well. Under pressure to cut costs and boost productivity, employers are trying to predict specific outcomes, such as whether a prospective hire will quit too soon, file disability claims or steal. Read the rest of this entry »