Real-Life Recruiting Robots Are as Creepy as You’d Expect

Text messaging with a bot is one thing. Asking Alexa and Siri what today’s weather looks like is another. But a robot you can actually touch and feel doing your company’s recruiting? OK, now you’ve gone too far.

Furhat Robotics doesn’t care about my hangups, however, which is why it’s building a sorta-human-like robot to do your interviewing for you. If I had to describe how this thing looks, I’d say it’s a cross between a robot from I, Robot, starring Will Smith and a Barbie Styling Head.

Yeah, let that one sink in for a second.

The Swedish robotics company announced this month that it was partnering with TNG, another Swedish company that specializes in unbiased recruiting to create a bot. It’s name is “Tengai Unbiased.” There’s a blog for those who want to follow the robot’s progress, and there’s even a video promoting the robot.

“At Furhat, we believe that social robots are the most natural, accessible, and engaging user interface for humans. Part of bringing this vision to life is by working with world leading companies such as TNG,” said Samer Al Moubayed, CEO at Furhat Robotics. “We’ve been very inspired by their vision of eradicating bias from the recruitment process, potentially giving people a better chance to have the right career, and for employers to find the right candidates.”

The initiative promises to assist recruiters in the early stages of the recruitment process, where questions are primarily skill and competency based. They hope to better analyze, understand, and perform competency-based interviews and assessments while eliminating unconscious bias.

Meet Your Next Recruiter

“We have worked with unbiased recruitment for years, and have explored various AI-platforms and robotic solutions,” said Åsa Edman Källströmer, CEO at TNG. “With Furhat, we can create an unbiased competence-based selection process and a new and completely unique candidate experience that will engage and enthuse job seekers.

“The combination will help us get even better at finding the best candidates for our customers, increase the diversity in their workplace and help us in our journey and vision to create a more sustainable labour market.”

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Solving the bias question is a big hurdle. It’s also a worthy cause. A 2018 study by TNG showed almost 73 percent of candidates believe they have been discriminated against while applying for a job based on age, gender, ethnicity, handicap, sexual preferences, appearance, weight, or health.

After they finish figuring out the bias question, maybe they can get crackin’ on helping human beings get comfortable being interviewed by a machine. That thing is creepy.

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.

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