Can a Robot Interview Better Than a Human?

Tim Sackett A.I., Hiring Bias, HR, HR Tech, HR Technology, Innovation, Interviewing, Robots, Tim Sackett 2 Comments

You might have seen this video around the web over the past few weeks. It’s a new technology being developed and tested in Sweden called “Tengai”:

Think about the last time you interviewed a candidate. What was your first initial reaction to them? Before they even opened their mouth?

It was probably something like this:

  • “They are decent looking enough”
  • “Shorter than I thought, but skinny”
  • “That hair could use a trim”
  • “Smells good”
  • “Dress choice was on point, very flattering”
  • “Nice smile, probably could whiten those teeth a bit”
  • “Love the shoes!”

That was done in the first ten seconds, then you shook their hand and it was damp because they were nervous and you were disgusted and in that moment you pretty much made the decision to not hire them.

Welcome to the reality of how humans interview.

This is why I do believe that something like Tengai has promise. Now we love to believe that a robot will not have any bias, but we do know that with machine learning robots can and will learn bias if left unchecked.

What robots will not do is judge us on all this superficial stuff! They will judge us on the quality of our answers, our intelligence, our word choice, the time it takes us to respond as compared to others answering the same question, our facial expressions at every single moment, our inflection in our voice when we might be exaggerating, etc.

Humans love to interview based on feel.

We lie and say we don’t. We do behavioral interview training and say we are looking at past performance all the while thinking in our mind as they are speaking, “will her personality work with the team, she might come off too strong, ugh, I don’t want the team fighting with the new person, I do need a strong female on my team, though, her hair is really great, plus she went to State and I love State, and she mentioned she likes dogs, I like dogs…” Oh, yes, great answer to that technical question I just asked.

A robot would not care about fit.

That’s hard for humans because we know fit matters. We also know that fit inherently causes our worst biases to come out.

We won’t ever come out and say the reason we aren’t picking you is because I didn’t like how used slang and sounded ghetto in that one answer. That would be biased. We will tell you that your experience was good, but we found someone else who had ‘better experience’.

A robot interviewing will move forward the best candidates based on data and criteria set. It will then be up to you to throw the bias somewhere into the process to screw up the robot’s selection!

What do you think? Can or will a robot interview better than a human?

Tim Sackett

If you Google “Tim Sackett” you’ll find our Tim, and a truck driver chaplain. Our Tim is NOT the truck driver chaplain, although how awesome would that be if he was!? He is a prolific writer in the HR and TA space who just happens to also run an Engineering and IT contract staffing agency (HRU Technical Resources) out of Michigan. He also writes every day at his own blog, the Tim Sackett Project. Weirdly, he’s known as an expert in workplace hugging, which was kind of cool years ago, but now seems painfully creepy, but we still love him and he’s fairly harmless. Tim is also on the board of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), lifetime Michigan State Spartan fan, husband to a Hall of Fame wife, 3 sons, and his best friend Scout. He also wrote a book with SHRM called The Talent Fix, you can find it on Amazon.

Comments 2

  1. . . . discovers that cold impersonal interviews show bias against people that don’t like talking to robots . . . redesigns AI pass the turing test . . . discovers robot must exhibit bias to pass the turing test . . . throws silicon head out the window and shakes fist at recruiting gods . . . proof that god is a recruiter and we are his chosen skill set 🙂

  2. If a robot chooses who is hired based solely on skill they won’t take into account the makeup of the team; the personalities, the dynamic of the group, furthermore what isn’t listed on a job description but still needs ot be taken into account as an important part of the role – and we’ve all seen this. The very bias the robot is trying to avoid becomes a potential issue once the individual is hired onto the team. Capability isn’t everything – in fact how much of interaction is perception and cohesion? A lot!

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