Three make-up artists who lost their jobs after being asked to do a computer-assessed video interview have won a settlement from cosmetics company Estee Lauder.
The women were asked to re-apply for their positions, but were later informed that they were being made partially redundant by a computer based on an automated judgment.
The software created by the hiring company HireVue looked at the content of their answers and their expressions and the results were used along with other data about their work performance.
In a documentary aired on BBC3 last night, the women said no one could explain why they failed.
A woman known as Anthia said: “I literally thought we would be videotaped and someone would mark it. That was not the case I found out. No one watched the video, it’s all algorithm. Estée Lauder refused to inform them about the nature of the assessment.
Anthia’s colleague, Lizzie, wanted an explanation for the investigation, but no one was intelligent. “They pasted the same sentence about algorithms and artificial intelligence and this tearing bucket of 15,000 data points. I still don’t know what that means. . . That’s not the answer for me. “
She said the interview asked questions about their make-up – but instead of showing it, they had to describe the process, which she found difficult.
Anthia said she felt it was important to push back. “I’m talking now so that people can hear the truth and people can hear that this is actually happening,” he said. “It needs to be heard and stopped.”
Automated recruitment software is increasingly being used to filter candidates at an early stage, and stakeholders claim that it can provide a fair first assessment rather than relying solely on CVs and covering letters.
Most selection processes involve psychometric testing and other qualitative assessments.
HireVue says it no longer uses visual video analysis software because its value is marginal. Estée Lauder stated that the interviewees were fully briefed, and that “using the HireVue process in conjunction with human decision making results in fair results and we are on its side”.
The women, who worked for Estée Lauder assistant Mac, were disposed of out of court. Lizzie said the hardest part of the experience was what she perceived as its injustice. “It simply came to our notice then. . . Because he told you you weren’t good enough to do anything. But it was not a valid reason for me to lose my job. That’s why it was so hard, because I knew I was good enough but being told I wasn’t really hard. “