Can we really use artificial intelligence to manage the hiring process?

That’s the argument of online dating site eHarmony, which recently announced its plans to expand into the job search market this year. But rather than using face-to-face interaction to pair candidates with employers, the company says it plans to use the same matchmaking principles it does for dating.

Grant Langston, the VP of Customer Service for eHarmony, told the press that many of the same traits calculated to determine whether customers are a good romantic match will be used to determine a good fit for hire, including conversational ability, job status, and socioeconomic status.

We continuously hear candidates and clients complain about impersonal experiences, and yet more and more we try to remove the human interaction from the process and make it more automated! This same worry can be said of strictly using any other job boards: the second we remove the human element, the more likely it is the company will experience a mis-hire.

We need to pair these “matchmaking” efforts with human qualifiers and in-person interaction, where the candidate can be fully assessed. What if you miss out on a great fit because eHarmony’s computer didn’t match them with your company? The perfect hire could be passed over because a computer doesn’t calculate a match!

To top it off, eHarmony’s compatibility system, the same one they might borrow from for staffing purposes, has recently been in hot water. According to The New York Times, a team of researchers recently said there was “no compelling evidence” that the eHarmony calculations work. The researchers say the eHarmony equation is just matching up agreeable people with agreeable people who would get along with ANYONE, a tactic they call the “person effect.”

Because of this, matchmaking does not necessarily guarantee overall relationship satisfaction.

Not everyone will say eHarmony’s math equation is all for naught, especially those who have been happily paired. Some would argue for the effectiveness of matchmaking by looking at the most recent divorce statistics, which took a small sampling of marriages and reported in 2011 that those who met on eHarmony were 66.6% less likely to get divorced than those who met through other methods.

But in terms of staffing, as critics to the matchmaking calculation point out, placing pleasant people with pleasant people will not always guarantee overall job satisfaction. Just because eHarmony thinks someone is a nice person doesn’t mean they’ll be a fit for the job! Extroverts don’t automatically equal success; being nice doesn’t mean your skill, competency, attitude and culture will automatically match up, and I’m not sure a mathematical equation would be able to account for that.

If this eHarmony algorithm can truly measure how well a candidate would get along with their employer, that’s great. But as with all of the technological shifts in recruiting, let’s still pair it with a human element!!


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