Japanese Companies Use AI in Recruitment Process

Companies in Japan test AI technology to help them in the recruitment of new talent

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With many firms in Japan already moving to conduct their recruitment programs using online interviews and seminars because of the coronavirus crisis, others have been experimenting with AI to streamline their hiring processes.

Using AI to evaluate resumes in recruitment process

Softbank Corp. has trained AI to review applications using data from 1,500 resume sheets, reducing the work required to hire its more than 1,000 yearly recruits. Though, according to the firm’s director of recruitment Tomoko Sugihara, humans still review the ‘rejected’ resumes to ensure suitable candidates did not slip through the cracks.

“We of course cannot rely on AI for all the processes, but making it learn our recruiting policies and standards for what kind of person we are looking for based on past data has helped us gain objectivity and uniformity in our hiring process,” Sugihara said.

Other companies have found AI useful in tackling the repetitive and high-volume tasks at the beginning of the recruitment process by using automation and chatbots to narrow down and shortlist the most promising applicants.

Every spring, Japanese firms hire new graduates en masse so working through the resumes of thousands of candidates eats up a lot of company time

Video analysis and databases

Some firms are introducing AI-powered video analysis software to determine whether a potential employee is a good fit for both the position advertised and the company based on their word choices, speech patterns and facial expressions.

Brewer Kirin Holdings Co. has been conducting its entire hiring process online this year to prevent further spread of coronavirus infections. It also plans to use AI technology in future to cut labour time and increase efficiency.

“We have already been introducing technology in recruiting such as keeping databases of applicants, including evaluations of their interviews, profiles and resumes,” said Keita Sato, a Kirin spokesperson.

Every spring, Japanese firms hire new graduates en masse so working through the resumes of thousands of candidates eats up a lot of company time. However, if companies could use data to standardise the match between candidate experience, knowledge and skills and the requirements of the job, they can both save time and find the most productive employees.

Continual monitoring of AI essential

For companies to use AI or machine learning in the recruitment process, careful selection of input data and regular tests are necessary to ensures the outcomes match the employers’ objectives.

“Machine learning is only a tool, it depends on how the user uses it. It can only do what humans can do and nothing more,” said Toshihiro Kamishima, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Kamishima pointed out that there have been instances where the outcome of AI learning reveals unconscious bias despite programs using training datasets that avoid the use of sensitive features like race, gender or age.

For example, by inputting data about a certain racial group that lives in a particular area, the AI would be indirectly prompted to learn a racial characteristic.

When Amazon.com Inc. began using an experimental AI recruiting tool, it found that it discriminated against women so the tech giant had to shut it down.

How do you feel about AI being used in the recruitment process? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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As companies shift more operations online, the recruitment process is a vital element to work on and to get right. 

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Written by Catherine McGuinness

Writer and journalist with a love for all things Japan.

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