Battle of interview bots in the race to unconscious bias

I recently read about an interesting approach to eliminating unconscious bias: Meet Tengai, the job interview bot who won’t judge you. The article highlights the work of Furhat Robotics, an artificial intelligence (AI) and social robotics company who, in collaboration with TNG a recruiting firm in Sweden, is trying to develop an interview solution that eliminates unconscious bias while still seeming human. Just last spring our CXR Colloquium on Recruiting Automation & Innovation came up with interview robots as one solution to this bias challenge… and it was met with a lot of laughs and head shaking. I can’t help but wonder if that group was prescient after all. 

[A Recruiting Utopia: How to design a recruiting process that removes all unconscious bias

Tengai is still in the trial and testing phase so I couldn’t interview her directly but I was inspired to put on my best candidate hat and reach out to talk about our prospective job interview…

Dear Tengai

I can’t wait to meet you in person – no pun intended. Thank you for the opportunity to have your human staff put their best foot…er best persona forward in assessing my competitive position for this opening.

Please be advised that I plan to be accompanied by Jengai, my virtual coach, who will assist me in responding to your well-considered questions. While Jengai has no discernible form since they reside in my left ear bud, I assure you their stature is equal to your bust sitting across from me on the table.

Jengai is an AI/ML version of me and has been monitoring my thoughts, education and discussions since high school. They have synthesized each of the ways I might be interviewed by you and will augment my answers to ensure my ranking is as free of anxiety-prone errors as is humanly…er technologically possible.

My lawyers, who are speaking to your lawyers, want me to note that Jengai will also accompany me once I become an employee to enhance my performance. We are a legally defensible, inseparable couple.

We would enjoy consuming in advance any assessment data that was given to my expected hiring manager and his/her team in the past that is similar to what you’ve already asked us to take. (This data is of course only a supplement to what we’ve already been able to infer from social and professional media.)

Would you mind sharing the percentage of all of the members of my prospective team who have left during the last five years (while the current leader has been in place) compared to an average number of his/her team members? Please indicate their respective gender and ethnic backgrounds. It would also be helpful if you could note individually whether they are still with the firm or at other employers and, if still with the firm, what positions do they currently hold.

Finally, a search of recent new hires based on LinkedIn title changes surfaced your most recent loss from the team who joined one of your competitors. Can I assume his leaving is the opening I’m filling? Jengai and I will save our other questions until we can meet “in person.”


Thanks to Jacob Sten Madsen for teeing this article up and inspiring this letter

Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin

Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 25 years ago.

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