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The Next Hiring Manager You Meet Could Soon Be A Robot

This robot head is already interviewing candidates in Sweden. An English version is due out in 2020.
Courtesy of Tengai
This robot head is already interviewing candidates in Sweden. An English version is due out in 2020.

How would you feel about a robot interviewing you for a job? Swedish company Tengaiis working on an English version of its robot which it claims will ask you questions without biases. Other companies, like HireVue and Humantic, formerly DeepSense, dig for personality traits based on digital interviews and social media accounts.

Artificial intelligence has long been part of weeding out job candidates. But companies are now going beyond resumes to discover personality traits.

Take for example Humantic, which scans social media accounts looking for underlying personality traits. It uses scientifically-based tests done with or without the job candidate's knowledge. Then it builds a behavior profile of each individual. Founder Amarpreet Kalkat wants to match the right people with the right jobs.

"So for people, they should find jobs that are fulfilling, that are meaningful, that they enjoy, that they love," he says.

In order to match the candidates, he uses years' worth of scientifically-based personality research. For example, how people describe things can be clues for how outspoken they are. "People who use more pronouns tend to be a little less open, whereas people who use more prepositions tend to be a little more open," he explains.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Bellini is skeptical. Cornell University Sociologist and Law Professor Ifeoma Ajunwa told him that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are public, so it is legal.


HireVue uses tone of voice, micro-expressions and clusters of words to analyze job candidates through an algorithm in a video interview. Then it compares those expressions with high performers already doing that job. Each candidate is awarded a score and the client can decide if he or she wants to watch the candidate video. Among its 700 clients are Hilton, Atlanta Public Schools, HBO and Staples.

HireVue Chief Technology Officer Loren Larsen says the video interview isn't biased. It doesn't evaluate candidates based on age and gender and it doesn't get tired and bored. "You're going to get evaluated the same way on Monday morning as you would on Friday afternoon and that should help people feel a little more comfortable with the process," he says.

The Swedish company Tengai wants to eradicate prejudices and says its robot head won't judge job candidates. On its website it explains how it does that.

"Tengai only records candidates' speech, which it converts into text in real-time. The interview robot doesn't take notice of other variables. Such as a person's accent or the pitch of their voice, their looks or gender. Furthermore, we don't let Tengai know anything about the candidates. The only thing we have access to are candidates' names and e-mail addresses."


One concern is that Tengai doesn't develop biases. "We are isolating the data to look at behavior science and the things that candidates are saying," CEO Elin Öberg Mårtenzon says. "So it's also important to work with a diverse workforce. So the people who are around Tengai, developing the product, need to be diverse."

An English version of Tengai will be out in 2020.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.