Robot Programmed to Carry Out Unbiased Job Interviews

TNG and Furhat Robotics in Sweden have developed a social, unbiased recruitment robot called “Tengai” that can be used to conduct job interviews with human candidates.

Existing Robot, Modified

The robot, ‘Furhat’, was developed several years ago by Stockholm based start-up Furhat Robotics. The Furhat robot, which looks like an internally projected human face on a white head sitting on top of a speaker (with camera and microphone built-in) is made with pre-built expressions and gestures as part of a pre-loaded OS which can be further customized to fit any character.

In conjunction with Swedish recruitment company TNG, the Furhat robot was modified by developing and adding a software HR-tech application to Furhat’s OS, and the recruitment version of Furhat has been named “Tengai”.

Talks, Listens and Transcribes

In a typical interview, the Tengai recruitment robot firstly shares information in a dialogue form about the interview and how it will be conducted.  It can then ask questions and understand what a candidate is saying, regardless of the number of words and sentences used.  During the interview Tengai record candidates’ speech, which it converts into text in real time.

The HR-tech application software that Tengai uses means that it can conduct situation and skill-based interviews in a way that is as close as possible to a human interviewer. This includes using “hum”, nodding its head, and asking follow-up questions.

Although the robot is currently only able to use the Swedish language, an English-speaking version is likely to be available by the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020.

Most Useful at The Beginning of the Process

The recruitment robot is designed to be used at the beginning of the candidate selection process where it can help by being very objective and skill-focused in order to find the competencies in candidates that are needed for the job.

Unbiased

According to TNG, one of the big advantages of the Tengai recruitment robot is that it is unbiased in its assessment of candidates.  For example, Tengai only records candidates’ speech and converts this into text in real time. The robot does not consider any other variables such as a person’s accent or the pitch of their voice, their looks or gender, and Tengai is not given any information about any candidate other than their name and email address. 

Also, Tengai asks questions in the same way, in the same tone and typically in the same order for each candidate, thereby making it fairer and more objective.

Creepy or Not?

TNG conducted 80 interviews to find out about peoples’ perceptions of the robot.  TNG reports that most were surprised by how ’natural’ it felt talking to the robot, which is adept at social codes.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is vital that businesses can find and recruit the best possible candidate for a role. The big advantage of this kind of robot is that it can be very effective in the first part of the candidate selection process because it is very objective and skill-focused. An in-depth assessment by an experienced recruiter can then be used later on with the candidates that the robot has shortlisted in order to get the necessary detail and personalisation, giving a complete picture of a candidate’s suitability for a position.

Using an unbiased, objective and structured robot like Tengai can mean that recruiters/employers can shift the subjectivity further along the process where it is less damaging. Also, a robot interviewer can mean that more candidates can be invited to participate in the early stages of recruitment drive, allowing for greater diversity by ensuring a better and broader selection of talents. This can give a business a better chance of finding the right person to fit the role available.