You’ve probably used the term “robot” to describe some of the people you have worked with or, in my case, some of the hiring managers with whom I interviewed over the years.

But I’m not talking metaphorically now.  This BBC news article introduces (is that the right word?) us to Tengai, the job interview robot.

Here is Tengai:

If Tengai is here, surely our robot overlords are not far off in the future.  Can you imagine interacting with that robot on a serious job interview?  The European company that has created Tengai explains their thoughts on the robot’s interactions:

The firm has spent the past four years building a human-like computer interface that mimics the way we speak, as well as our subtle facial expressions. The idea, according to chief scientist Gabriel Skantze, is that “it feels much less scary or strange compared to a more traditional robot”.

A more traditional robot?

The “less scary” robot does provide a unique perspective to hiring.  I honestly think some form of initial robot interviewing is at hand – the article mentions a couple other companies launching in this space.  The most difficult aspect to overcome, in hiring, is bias.  We all have it and a significant portion of it is subconscious.  Clearly robots are immune to this preferential pattern (I think).

The article does provide a point that often gets overlooked in the hiring process:

She also points out that interviews – especially those in sectors where there is a skills shortage – can be as much about job seekers deciding whether or not they want to work for a company as the reverse.

The candidate is making a decision about your company also.  Hiring is a two-way street where you have to “sell” the opportunity to the candidate.  I would not feel comfortable entrusting that process to a robot.  Taking it further, hiring salespeople would be difficult in that the robot cannot pick up on intuitive decisions.  Can you envision this person selling for your company?  Will your prospects buy from this salesperson?  Does the candidate have the intangibles for sales success?  I don’t see those questions being answered by a robot interview in the near future.

I sure hope I am right about that last sentence!

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