from the doesn't-care-why-manhole-covers-are-round dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Joseph Walker writes at the WSJ that although personality tests have a long history in hiring, sophisticated software has now made it possible to evaluate more candidates, amass more data and peer more deeply into applicants' personal lives and interests. This allows employers to predict specific outcomes, such as whether a prospective hire will quit too soon, file disability claims, or steal. For example 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. Xerox used to pay lots of attention to applicants who had done the job before. Then, an algorithm told the company that experience doesn't matter. It determined what does matter in a good call-center worker — one who won't quit before the company recoups its $5,000 investment in training. By putting applicants through a battery of tests and then tracking their job performance, Evolv has developed a model for the ideal call-center worker (PDF). The data recommend a person who lives near the job, has reliable transportation and uses one or more social networks, but not more than four. He or she tends not to be overly inquisitive or empathetic, but is creative. 'Some of the assumptions we had weren't valid,' says Connie Harvey, Xerox's chief operating officer of commercial services. However, data-based hiring can expose companies to legal risk. Practices that even unintentionally filter out older or minority applicants can be illegal under federal equal opportunity laws. If a hiring practice is challenged in court as discriminatory, a company must show the criteria it is using are proven to predict success in the job."
"Can't you just gesture hypnotically and make him disappear?"
"It does not work that way. RUN!"
-- Hadji on metaphyics and Mandrake in "Johnny Quest"