Algorithm helps insurers select personnel

Digitalization is bringing about change in the search for top personnel. Even the insurer Talanx, with its 20 worldwide.000 employees is making use of them via the new software of a start-up company. Since the beginning of the year, the group has dispensed with elaborate assessment centers, comprehensive tests in which applicants are tested for their suitability by specialists for days on end.

At Talanx, a single phone call to a computer is now enough, reports dpa. The applicant can explain, for example, what a perfect day looks like for him or her. "The whole thing takes about half an hour, costs about 1,000 euros and is run by computer, whereas an assessment center takes one to two days and usually costs five figures," says Torsten Leue, the Talanx board member responsible for international business who will become the new CEO in May. However, the machine does not select, but is only used for pre-selection. In assessment centers, the program was run on a trial basis in the previous year and produced extremely high matches. "I also faced this tool and was thrilled," says Leue, a business economist.

Robot program tests suitability

He sees the algorithm test of the "Precire" program as a simple but efficient tool to determine whether the company culture is a good fit for the applicant. It does this by analyzing the personality of the candidate via language. It was developed by an Aachen-based startup called Precire, which actually had its sights set on call centers or temp agencies as customers via speech recognition. The Frankfurt airport company Fraport also uses the program, but as a voluntary part of a development program.

"I find the program as interesting as it is frightening," says Tina Vob from the temporary employment agency of the same name in Hanover. "You have to prepare applicants extremely well for such a fully automated job interview; after all, if they use filler words or empty phrases, they will be exposed immediately before they can explain themselves," says the head of the company. It also raises the question of the legal limits of automatically screening applicants and advocates voluntariness. Whether the program will catch on? Vob is certain: "I think so, because it's too easy and accurate with a hit rate of 80 to 95 percent."

Experts will not be replaced

The keyword is artificial intelligence, explains Leue of Talanx, where half the executives will retire by 2025. "Artificial intelligence is a key technology of digitalization, it will soon shape very many products and services," says Mathias Weber of industry association Bitkom. In recruiting skilled workers, it is becoming increasingly important. "In this process, logisticians, doctors, police officers or human resources experts are not replaced by algorithms, but are given support in the often difficult, time-critical decision-making process."

And what do the 180 or so.000 German personnel developers and headhunters, who generate annual sales of 45 billion euros? At the Federal Association of German Management Consultants (BDU), Vice President Regina Ruppert says, "We don't see such a program as a threat to our business model, but rather as a supplement and expansion." The managing director of the Berlin-based Selaestus Personal Management is certain with regard to the digital upheavals: "Of course, the processes of personnel consultants are also changing as a result: We also, but not only, use algorithms."

Managers need to be more creative and creative beyond the usual hierarchies: "Emotional intelligence is becoming more important," says BDU Vice President Ruppert. Temporary employment expert Vob also says: "The role of the manager is changing dramatically." Moving away from hierarchical structures to teamwork and IT skills: "It's a bit like autonomous driving: Whether we think it's good or not – it's coming."The head of TuV Nord, Dirk Stenkamp, also believes this. But he warns, "Experience also shows, however, that after the great enthusiasm, moral and ethical questions will also arise."

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