The development and programming of the social interview robot Tengai is progressing and the Swedish pre-launch is getting near, which means little to no sleep for TNG’s and Tengai’s Chief Innovation Officer, Elin Öberg Mårtenzon.
But she managed to take a few minutes and share what she thinks lies ahead for the world’s first unbiased social robot.
”They felt they could give a better answer to a robot than to a human recruiter.”
1. You have been working on Tengai since October and it is now time for a pre-launch in Sweden, how do you view the work so far?
It’s been an exciting journey and we have learned a lot of different things along the way. Programming Tengai has given us a better understanding of the complex process that leads up to the hiring decision. By understanding what mistakes human recruiters usually make we could program Tengai to not make those mistakes. Humans are naturally biased and being able to mitigate unconscious bias at the job-interview is almost impossible without tools like Tengai.
Tengai has also been featured in both Swedish and International media, which is a great confirmation that unbiased recruitment is a global concern. I think that most companies truly are aiming to recruit more diverse teams and according to our research 73 percent of job-seekers feel that they’ve been discriminated against, which explains why Tengai is attracting so much attention.
2. What have you learned since you started working with Tengai?
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned so far is that the interview stage is a critical part of the recruitment process when it comes to unconscious biases. To maintain an unbiased process, we need efficient tools to help us along the way so we can do our job better. Humans naturally make assumptions and recruiters are often forced to make decisions based on very little information which makes them turn to their gut-feeling for help. With objective tools, like Tengai, companies will get help to make better hiring decisions and avoid being affected by unconscious biases.
3. What has been the most surprising insight?
One of the biggest “aha” moments was when I understood exactly how much a recruiter can affect the assessment of an interview, which was even more than we first thought. Humans make all kinds of snap judgments and if a recruiter is having a bad day the evaluation could be affected. I also thought it was quite fascinating to analyze the candidate experience afterward, where a majority actually stated that they felt they could give a better answer to a robot than to a human recruiter.
4. Tell me about the pre-launch in Sweden (May 2019) and the features of the first version of Tengai?
The first product we are launching is an in-house product that will be incorporated into TNG’s recruitment solution we offer clients. It will help our recruiters to get objective interview data so they can make better and more informed hiring recommendations. Using Tengai during the early stages of the recruitment process will benefit recruiters, job candidates, and clients.
Tengai is creating an experience that is fair and where job-seekers feel safe to be themselves since the robot doesn’t have any preconceived assumptions that a recruiter might have. We can also invite more job-seekers to interview and screen for soft-skills and personality traits, which will result in good candidate quality and retention rates.
5. What value will it bring to customers?
Tengai will make the process more efficient and promotes a diverse and competent team, with skills that can meet the challenges of today’s and tomorrows workplace. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to keep the first interview objective enough to make a competency-based, informed decision without the help of tools such as Tengai. But most importantly, she will free up time for recruiters and managers to really engage with the right candidates at the end of the recruitment funnel, where the human relation is needed the most.
6. You are heading out on tour with Tengai and the team, what can we expect to see?
We will be touring around Sweden, Europe and then the US for the next six months. We will attend various events and meet potential customers and they are in for a treat, a meeting with Tengai sure is an experience above the average. We will tell the background story that led up to this moment, how we are disrupting the traditional job interview and what it’s like to be interviewed by Tengai.
7. You are also developing an English speaking Tengai-robot – what is the timeline and what will it be able to do?
The plan is to have an English-speaking robot ready for the market during the first quarter of 2020. The robot will be able to conduct unbiased job-interviews, collect objective interview data and then score the outcome to help recruiters and hiring managers to make better hiring decisions.