Robots could be conducting your job interviews by 2020

What if you had an interviewer that was physically incapable of expressing the subtle commonalities of language? What if your interviewer was a robot?

You know that moment during an interview when you know you didn’t get the position, but you can’t just get up and go home? You’ll say a word wrong or make the wrong kind of joke, or the interviewer will ask you what your favorite season of The Wire is and you’ll say season two. Then the interviewer might say something like,  ‘Interesting,’ then check their watch or scribble something down deliberately on their notepad.

Sometimes you’ll say all the right things, but there’s just a social disconnect.


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What if you lived in a world where you had an interviewer that was physically incapable of expressing the subtle commonalities of language? What if every job interview was conducted by a cold, biases-less robot?

The world’s first interview robot

An artificial intelligence and social robotics company called Furhat has dedicated the last four years to create a computer interface meant to mimic human interaction. In October of last year, the startup joined forces with TNG (the largest recruitment company in all of Sweden). Together they aim to eradicate the inherent prejudices that keep so many potentially qualified employees from getting their dream jobs. Enter Tengai, the 16-inch tall robot-recruiter.

Tengai isn’t interested in idle small talk, or your gender or your race, or anything. She’s a robot. She conducts every interview the exact same way, in the exact same tone-same questions, same order. Tengai is still doing test runs to refine the process, but she’s set to get to work later on this year in May.

“It’s learning from several different recruiters so it doesn’t pick up the specific behavior of one recruiter,” says Gabriel Skantze, who is the project’s chief scientist.

Candidates will walk in, Tengai will conduct an interview and then the transcript will be sent to human employers to survey the answers-and the answers alone. If the trials are successful we can expect to see an English version of Tengai as early as 2020.

Regrettably, a recent Stanford study from 2018 found hiring biases are still pretty prevalent in America. Simple accidents of birth make candidates that are otherwise competent unable to accommodate emotional standards valued in the States. The implementation of an efficient mechanical recruiter will cow companies into privileging a meritocracy over any superficial factors.

But until Tengai officially hits the corporate world, the correct answer is Season 5. Season 5 is the best season of The Wire. Full stop.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.