Majority of job-seeking university students put off by AI-powered candidate screening

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

As more companies turn to artificial intelligence to discover new talent, a recent survey has shown that a majority of job-seeking university students don’t want their abilities judged by the technology.

About 67.5 percent of 1,258 university and graduate students slated to graduate in March 2019 said they don’t want AI to assess their job qualifications during interviews, according to the online survey published Wednesday by Tokyo-based recruitment consulting firm Disco Inc.

The survey, conducted from March 1 to Tuesday, also showed that 50.1 percent of respondents don’t want AI to read their resume and decide whether they qualify for the next round.

The results reflect students’ honest feelings that they don’t feel comfortable having their job qualifications judged by algorithms without even meeting a human staffer, Disco spokesman Osamu Yoshida said Thursday.

“For professionals, companies see applicants’ skills and achievements in work — which are relatively easy to assess. But for new university graduates they are more likely to value students’ potential and willingness to work, which are difficult for AI to evaluate,” Yoshida said.

The survey suggests that the results of automated evaluations could be better received as one of many criteria when employers make final hiring decisions — not a make-or-break measure, Yoshida added.

With this year’s shūkatsu (job hunting) season for university students having officially kicked off last week, some high-profile companies are expected to receive more than 10,000 “entry sheets,” a kind of detailed resume most Japanese companies require from graduates before they are invited to an interview session. The volume of applications received makes it burdensome for human resources (HR) staff to read all of them carefully.

To address that, some companies, including SoftBank Corp., have relied on AI to screen the stacks of entry sheets. SoftBank said last May that the move would save 75 percent of HR workers’ time and allow them to be engaged more closely when dealing with applicants in person.

Some firms go even further, requiring applicants to sit for an interview with an AI-powered robot or asking them to send videos of them talking for an AI screening, Yoshida said.

A separate survey of companies by Disco, conducted from January to February, showed that 23.9 percent of 1,311 respondents were fully or partially positive about utilizing AI in the initial resume screening process, while 14.2 percent gave the same answer regarding AI use in interviews.

Yoshida predicted that the use of AI will first spread among major companies, which are in need of ways to find top candidates from a massive number of applicants. But “the most important thing will be to use it effectively by identifying how and when it should be used,” he said.

Meanwhile, Disco’s survey this month also showed that 67.6 percent of respondents said they like the idea of using AI to recommend companies that are most suited to them.