Imagine going to an office, all dressed up, thinking you will be speaking to a person in a suit, only to be greeted by a bust made out of plastic and silicon, sitting atop a table. You take your seat and its eyes light up. Questions come out of nowhere, in a monotone voice, without any bias or expressions. Would you feel scared, relieved or curious? Maybe a bit of both?
Well, if you go to Sweden, you can experience that. Tengai, a robot created just for that purpose, has already interviewed people, even though it was part of a test.
Tengai – A Robot Interviewer
In Stockholm, Sweden, at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, at Furhat Robotic, Tengai came to be. Tengai is a female robot, standing 41 centimeters in height. She is at eye level when when you are seated and she is atop a table. Her only job is to interview potential job candidates without having any bias or judgement. Why does she exist? For multiple reasons.
Why Does Such a Robot Exist?
Tengai exists because interviewers are biased by nature. If you were to be asked whether you like sports or mountain climbing, whether you play an instrument or anything similar and you answer with a yes or no, you would be rewarded with a plus or minus in the brain of the interviewer, oftentimes unconsciously. It takes less than 7 seconds for a first impression to be formed and interviews last for 15 minutes. That first impression may decide the fate of the interview.
A robot will not have such impressions. It will not ask such questions, but rather questions which will be related to your skill and competency.
Did She Test Anyone?
Tengai performed a couple of interviews, to the shock of the interviewees. Well, one person, in particular, felt that she was really a robot but quickly forgot about that during the interview process. Petra Elission, who works at human healthcare and whose job is to read through interview transcripts, remarks that a robot would be useful as the data would be unbiased and that is very helpful, especially when there are many candidates to review.
Can a Robot be Biased?
Since robots are programmed by humans, won’t they be biased? Well, no, because this robot has learned from multiple people to avoid any sort of bias or set of habits. In particular, it learned from human recruiters.
Tengai is to interview actual candidates in May. The data will still have to be analyzed before the robot can become an actual interviewer you can rely on. There are plans to make an English version and start testing it in 2020.