Streamlining the Hiring Process with an Interview Robot

September 11, 2018

When a company releases a notice about a new job opening, it can receive hundreds of responses from potential candidates. And before the detailed portion of the interview process begins, somebody has to call all those people to ask them basic questions about the job and their interest in it. This can be a grueling procedure, as Russian entrepreneurs Alexei Kostarev and Alexander Uraksin know quite well. In 2010 the pair had to screen more than 1,500 candidates over the course of 10 days to fill a few vacant positions in a warehouse. “We were exhausted from this work and needed a change,” said Uraskin.

Their solution was to launch a company where they could come up with ways for human resource officers to streamline the hiring process. By 2016, Uraskin and Kostarev had developed Robot Vera, an interviewing program powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The process begins when a company provides a detailed description of the position they’re looking to fill as well as the skills needed to perform it. Robot Vera then scours job-seeking sites like CareerBuilder for qualified candidates and gives them a call if they fit the bill. “When you answer the phone, she says ‘Hi, my name is Vera, and I am a robot — are you still looking for a job?’” said Kostarev. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ Vera can conduct an interview over the phone or by video interview.”

Of course, Vera’s conversational abilities can’t match those of an experienced human resources officer. But Kostarev and Uraksin claim that the bot was never meant to replace human beings entirely in the hiring process. Instead, Vera excels at quickly vetting candidates for jobs in high-turnover sectors like restaurants or retail. When recruiters first begin to contact people for these positions, as many as 50 percent of respondents say they’re not looking for a job anymore. That means it can potentially take 100 calls for a company to find just 20 solid candidates. Although this monotonous task can be a burden for human recruiters, Vera conducts thousands of interviews per day without getting tired. “What Vera can do in one working day, a traditional talent source would need to spend two weeks,” said Uraskin. It’s time-saving abilities like these that have made Robot Vera an appealing hiring partner for big clients such as Ikea, L’Oreal, and Pepsi.

Questions:

  1. How does a software program like Robot Vera help streamline the hiring process?
  2. Do you think you would feel uncomfortable if a robot conducted your job interview? Why or why not?

Sources: Ruth Umoh, “Meet the Robot That’s Hiring Humans for Some of the World’s Biggest Corporations,” CNBC, April 20, 2018; Peter Holley, “Want to Work for Ikea? Your Next Job Interview Could Be Conducted by a Russian Robot,” The Washington Post, April 25, 2018.

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