young woman with facial recognition grid overlay on her face

Recruiting Tech Firm Backs Away from Facial Analysis and More HR Tech News

January 20, 2021 Digital Workplace
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer

Assessment and interview technology firm HireVue has stopped using software that analyzes facial expressions to identify certain characteristics of interviewees. 

The South Jordan, Utah, company’s platform had recorded candidates’ behavior, speech and intonations and ran them against an algorithm that matched them with specific traits. Now, HireVue says advances in natural language processing have eliminated the need for visual analysis. Because of NLP’s evolution, the company said, “visual analysis no longer significantly added value to assessments.” 

HireVue dropped facial analysis last year but just announced the move now, as it released a third-party audit showing that its assessments “work as advertised” in terms of fairness and bias.

In February 2019, HireVue created an advisory board to help guide ethical AI development and advise the company on issues of diversity and inclusion, algorithmic bias and data security and privacy. HireVue claimed it was the first AI developer in human capital management technology to set up such a panel.

Still, its use of facial analysis was controversial. The Washington Post reported that its technology was so widely used that many colleges trained graduates on how to present themselves for the best results, and more than 1 million candidates had been analyzed by the software as of 2019. At the same time, some AI researchers worried that the platform could not fairly or accurately determine which job seekers could actually succeed in a role.

IT Departments Lag in Employee Experience

Employees and IT departments hold different views on the effectiveness of service desks, something to consider as organizations examine the overall employee experience and look for clues as to how they can improve their approach to HR services, even when separate teams are involved in providing them.

A survey by Boston-based Nexthink, a company that provides software to help manage digital experiences, found that just more than a third of technology executives (34%) collect experience information manually and 46% don’t measure the digital experience at all. That comes despite the fact 96% believe digital experience is an essential part of IT’s job.


In addition, technology leaders aren’t all that confident in their ability to measure the impact of technical change. While 56% believed they could get an accurate sense of how rollouts affect remote workers, only 11% are confident they have insight into experience related to change, and only 6% are confident about insight into business services deployment. All in all, Nexthink said, tech leaders are less confident than they were earlier this year in their ability to properly deploy new applications and IT services.

Seventy percent of technology leaders said their ticket and call volumes spiked since the COVID-19 pandemic began, some by as much as 50%. The top problems employees faced involved VPNs, poor video calls and problematic Wi-Fi connections. None of which directly impact HR, obviously, but all affect the basic experience of work.

“Since the start of forced remote work in March, IT has been thrust into unfamiliar territory,” said Nexthink Chief Strategy Officer Yassine Zaied. “The delta between success and failure lies in the understanding of the employees experience — if end-user computing teams don’t have insight into what employees are experiencing, they cannot effectively do their job.”

Gartner has reported that 64% of HR executives now give employee experience a higher priority than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Spurs Changes to Recruiting Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed most employers to revamp their approach to recruiting and talent acquisition, mostly by adopting tools that allow them to evolve traditional practices to the realities of social distancing and hampered travel.

According to a study by Ontario-based’s HR Research Institute, 78% of employers have modified their approach to talent acquisition. About 79% increased the number of interviews they conduct remotely, while 32% implemented new technology to streamline remote hiring. Eighty-nine percent have deployed a video conferencing platform, while 56% have adopted electronic signature capabilities.

Even in the face of the pandemic, more than half of the respondents (54%) believe their talent acquisition efforts are good or excellent. Of those, 81% use an applicant tracking system, compared to barely two-thirds (65%) of the employers who view their talent acquisition as average or below.

Product Launches and Integrations

iCIMS added a video-studio module to its Talent Cloud, an early result of the company’s acquisition of Altru Labs in December. iCIMS Video Studio allows companies to provide new content as they build their employer brand throughout the talent acquisition process.


Videos can be used to spotlight employees and add testimonials to career sites and communications campaigns, and can be embedded into internal communications. Among other things, iCIMS said the module will reduce the cost of video production.

Separately, iCIMS received its ISO/IEC 27701 privacy information management systems certification and completed its first SOC 2, Type II audit.  

Freelance work platform Upwork announced Project Catalog, a collection of predefined projects that customers can browse and buy from. These are predefined, fixed-price projects organized into more than 300 categories. They cover areas like design, web development and translation, and include information like scope, cost, timing and deliverables.

CEIPAL’s recruitment and talent management platform has been added to the SAP App Center, allowing customers to integrate the platform with SAP’s contingent workforce management solution, SAP Fieldglass. The integration helps users communicate job requirements to Fieldglass without leaving the CEIPAL platform. 

HR Acuity launched an online community specifically for employee relations. The community, called empowER, builds on the company’s Employee Relations Roundtable, which it began in 2015. empowER will host ongoing discussions and networking to help practitioners handle employee relations and changing workplaces.  

JazzHR and social media screening company LifeBrand announced an integration that will allow customers to review social media profiles on their way to making hiring decisions. LifeBrand says its technology is both FCRA and EEOC compliant, and is meant to bring “social media snooping” into the open.

J.D. Power introduced a certification program to recognize organizations for exceptional onboarding, training and career progression programs. The program uses the company’s data and analytics to evaluate talent development initiatives as well as the organization’s focus on accountability, commitment to employee development and measurement of success.  

News Briefs  

Applicant tracking and recruiting software company Greenhouse received a $500 million investment from investment firms TPG Growth and the Rise Fund, giving the company an estimated value of about $820 million. About 47 million of those dollars are new money. The rest is being used to buy back stock from existing investors and employees. Last April, Greenhouse had to lay off 28% of its workforce last April because of the coronavirus.

Alexander Mann Solutions changed its name to AMS. The company’s going to start talking a lot about “workforce dexterity” as it focuses on helping clients “build, reshape and optimize” their workforce so they can more easily redeploy talent as needed.


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