Robot recruiter


LTP, market leader in assessments in the Netherlands, is testing doing interviews with a Robot. They named their robot Sigmund (created by Furhat Robotics), of course referring to Freud. Is this the future? Or just a gimmick? And what’s the science behind it all. We decided to ask Business psychologist Ivo Winkes, Partner at LTP online.

So you are testing if a robot recruiter can be better at selection. Why a physical robot and not an online avatar?

In this project LTP is using and testing two different kinds of media: online avatars and of course our physical robot Sigmund. The feedback that we get is that people prefer a robot over an online avatar. They really get caught in the conversation and even start taking selfies with Sigmund.

Our first impression is that candidates are even more open in a dialogue with Sigmund than in a conversation with real people. Remarkable isn’t it?

What are you looking at in terms of data to analyses? Expressions? micro-expressions? Actual words? Tone of voice? what’s being researched?

With the advent of increasingly sophisticated assessment technologies, the world of selection and assessment is entering a new era. One of the most notable recent innovations, that may be a real ‘game-changer’ for selection practices, is the introduction of automatic coding software run by a robot.

Automatic coding software can be used to assess:
• nonverbal facial expressions. In other words we are able to analyze facial expressions and relate them to psychometric traits.
• paraverbal utterances. In other words: the tone of voice.
• verbal content of speech. Basically the words you use can be used to determine characteristics as well.

If anybody is interested in the academic research behind this I’ll be happy to supply all the sources, there are many. Just connect on Linkedin and send me a message.

All three of these may offer important cues to somebody’s personality; that is, personality has been predicted by facial features and expressions, communication styles, speech utterances, and state measures of emotions, and—last but not least—the content of speech and ‘what people talk about’.

A recent study has suggested that the personality trait Conscientiousness—automatically coded from speech—can be measured with almost the same level of validity for the prediction of supervisor-rated work performance as self-rated Conscientiousness.

Despite these recent efforts, there has been a lack of studies integrating different modalities (i.e., nonverbal (facial) expressions, paraverbal (voice) expressions, and verbal (content) expressions) in the prediction of important work outcomes.

In the current research project, we investigate the reliability, construct validity, and predictive validity of automatic coding algorithms of nonverbal, paraverbal, and verbal expressions of personality in the context of a selection interview.

What are you looking for get out of this? Psychometrics? Cognitive ability?

In general LTP Business Psychologists is pushing the non-bias-needle in the world of recruitment and selection. Together with VU University of Amsterdam we are putting a constant effort in giving people in the job market equal opportunities.

More specific this research will serve two main goals:
– A practical goal: To develop an A.I. assessment robot to measure personality en predict job performance in a fair, accurate and transparent way;
– A scientific goal: To test the reliability and validity of automatic personality assessment using multiple modalities to predict selection and work outcomes.

You’re currently in the research phase with the academics of the VU, when do you think this will be a product that could be purchased?

Our goal is to bring a reliable and unbiased A.I. Assessment Robot product to the market within two years, but only if it is fully backed by science.

What type of jobs do you think this might be used most for?

Equal opportunities at the start of your career has a big and positive impact on the rest of your working life, so our A.I. assessment robot Sigmund will start to focus on this group.

As far as we can see now, an A.I. Robot interview is suitable for all candidates, regardless of prior education, and background.

And of course Sigmund will guarantee a fun and impressive candidate experience. Taking selfies is allowed.


Find out when you can watch this session at Talent Acquisition Live. Click here >