Many interviewers are astute observers who can read candidates like an expert poker player reads their opponents. But imagine they were also equipped with the power to read heartbeats and brainwaves, and detect any lies, insecurities or hesitation.
This is the challenge facing the latest generation of job seekers who can expect to be interviewed not by a person, but by Artificial Intelligence technology. Robot interviewers are now central to acquiring new talent at Goldman Sachs and other global employers.
Human Resources is already being replaced by the emergent field of People Analytics.
In this brave new world millions of resumes are scanned by algorithms, with the top 1% separated from the herd in less than a second. Gone are the days of an actual person looking over CVs and emailing potential employees.
Now the traditional interview is vanishing. HireVue is one company leading the way with AI video technology that interviews applicants on their smart phone. As this video shows, job seekers answer a series of 11 questions on their phone camera. HireVue algorithms then rank all the interviewees on an ‘insight score’ which measures their suitability for the position.
Goldman Sachs and Unilever have enthusiastically adopted HireVue’s idea. AI interviewing is far more efficient from a corporate perspective, and is also well-received by some ‘digital native’ applicants who are more comfortable dealing with technology than people.
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HireVue uses algorithms rather than an actual robot. But Australian researchers recently made waves with Matilda. She is a 30cm tall robot who interviews candidates for sales positions.
Developed by Professor Rajiv Khosla at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, Matilda uses 76 questions and the ability to read a human’s cognitive and emotional responses to rank candidates and identify the most suitable for the role.
Professor Khosla believes that robots like Matilda can help remove human biases from the interviewing process to help ensure complete fairness for applicants.
His research followed a pioneering Israeli study which demonstrated that prisoners up for parole were more likely to be set free if judges reviewed their case after lunch. By contrast, hungry judges watching the clock tick towards lunchtime were far less forgiving.
Research also shows that interviewers often settle on the first excellent candidate they come across. This means later candidates face a much harder challenge securing the job, even if they are a better match.
Mya Systems is a Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence company that hopes to use the same principle to improve diversity in the workplace. Its intelligent chatbot Mya screens applicants purely on objective criteria related to the job position, while removing any biases related to gender, race, height or looks.
But some critics are worried that the idea could backfire spectacularly and actually increase bias. Human engineers create the AI algorithms and therefore could, either deliberately or subconsciously, infect the robot with their own prejudices.
If logical intelligence is valued too highly, the workplace might be full of black, brown, and white people of all genders, heights and looks, but without much creative problem solving skills. There is also the more sinister possibility that companies could program the robot to favour good-looking candidates, or those of a certain race.
Diversity, however, isn’t the main appeal of AI interviewing. The real beauty lies in its efficiency and ability to identify the very best candidates without spending any human time or energy. It also spares applicants the expense and pain of travelling for a job interview, only to be rejected.
It is unlikely that real interviews will cease to exist anytime soon. Once robots like Matilda and Mya have identified the top two or three applicants, many employers will continue to sit down personally with them to make the final decision, especially for top roles.