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Recruitment technology

Future HR Tech: Voice Profiling?

Clare Hopping

Stuart Pinfold/flickr Stuart Pinfold/flickr

Now more than ever, it’s critical that hiring managers remain aware of the release of new recruitment technology. And recently, a new kind of software called voice profiling has emerged, inspiring both excitement and concern across the HR community.

There’s a lot of talk about the new HR tech method on the block: voice profiling. It’s not unusual for tech pioneers and their products to receive an equal balance of praise from believers and criticism from their skeptics, but the hype is indeed warranted this time around.

So what is voice profiling exactly, and what’s the big deal? Well, the innovators behind it claim that a computer can decide whether or not you’re employable.

Can the Sound of My Voice Score Me a Job?

The products under scrutiny are voice profilers like the one put out by Jobaline, the “leading mobile-first, bilingual marketplace and matching platform for hourly jobs.” Their website claims that the voice profiler “makes it easier to find, apply, and get matched for jobs from any mobile phone, tablet, or computer.”

Its projected capabilities boil down to the following:

1. Listening to your voice’s features

2. Measuring the reactions of those listening to your voice

3. Gauging if these reactions will benefit a company with regards to their ROI

The algorithms (e.g. patterns) created according to these three measurements will then determine if the interviewee is a good candidate for the job, and if they’ll move on to the next round: a face-to-face interview.

Jobaline’s CEO, Louis Salazar, promotes this technology as a way of eliminating unintended discrimination: “There are so many sources of bias when you’re dealing with humans. The beauty of voice profiler algorithms is that they are blind. It gives everybody a fair chance and the employers are 100% compliant with EEO Guidelines.”

According to Jobaline’s site, another advantage of the technology is that “Employers pay only for pre-screened candidates and save [over] and reduce the time-to-hire by 50%, saving hundreds of hours in manual pre-screening tasks.”

Sounds impressive, but let’s take a closer look and see what others think about voice profiling’s potential market impact and effectiveness.

Is it a Go or No?

plantronicsgermany/flickr plantronicsgermany/flickr

There have been a number of discussions surrounding the ups and downs of this new technology, many of which involve a significant degree of doubt. In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Seymour Adler expressed serious skepticism about the new selection process.

They claim that voice profiling tools “are based on a rather unconventional premise,” as “instead of trying to decode a candidate’s personality, intelligence, or mood state, they aim to predict the emotion that that voice is going to generate on the listener.”

In response, Salazar reiterates that it’s all about what “emotion the voice is going to generate on the listener." And in the face of this criticism, he maintains that a voice that’s found to be engaging, calming, and trustworthy points to an overall better employee.

Moreover, people like Aarti Shahani understand the multiple benefits of a computer’s contributions to the hiring process, according to NPR. As he puts it, “Humans evaluating job candidates can get tired by the time applicant No. 25 comes through the door. Those doing the hiring can discriminate. But algorithms have stamina, and they do not factor in things like age, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Salazar, of course, echoes this statement, saying: “That's the beauty of math. It's blind."

Although Chamorro-Premuzic and Adler do acknowledge that voice profiling could perhaps play a part in future hiring techniques, they argue that more research needs to be done on “exactly how an employee’s voice quality or speech affects job performance in a target role.”

If you take the example of cold-call sales, there’s no doubt that the voice and personality on the other side of the phone will have a significant impact on a customer’s experience — and so to fill this type of role, a voice profiler could present an extremely useful tool for recruiters.

But according to the two experts, although the voice profiler is certainly “a promising start in harnessing technology to spot great hires,” it’s currently not much more than an “interesting experiment.” Only time will tell if companies and brands will find a way to effectively incorporate voice profiling into their recruiting processes.

In the meantime, it’s important to keep exploring new technological methods that promise to simplify and expedite the hiring process for all parties involved. The next piece of new technology could be the one that transforms your business.

Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been involved in the recruitment of both full-time employees and freelance staff for ten years. She specialises in recruiting staff via social media and digital platforms.