Giving voice to the best job candidate: HR recruiting tool uses speech to screen applicants

What you say on a job interview may be less important than how you say, thanks to speech-based predictive analytics, which could be the next trend in HR recruiting.

While a number of technology companies aim to streamline recruiting, VoiceSense, a startup that provides predictive analytics solutions, is using information collected from an applicant’s speech to predict the kind of worker she will be. The Israel-based company has a new tool for HR departments that gives them the ability to analyze so-called “prosodic parameters,” or the non-content aspects of speech like tone and pitch, of candidate’s voices. HR teams can analyze snippets of recorded video or phone interviews in VoiceSense by submitting an audio file into the system. The company only needs about a minute of anyone’s voice, says Pinhas Reich, vice-president of marketing at VoiceSense.

“We do not understand the content, only the music of the voice,” Reich says. “By analyzing the speech we are able to assess the tendencies of the person who is speaking.”

The tool measures candidates on 10 different personality tendencies from temperament and ambition, to integrity and creativity. Each candidate is then ranked on a scale and an employer gets a list of individuals might be a good fit for the job, Reich says.

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A customer uses the new iPhone 5 Siri function at a Telstra store on George Street in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg News ***Local Caption***

The software also can be used to track satisfaction of current employees, Reich says. VoiceSense can assess the speech patterns of current employees and provide an analysis of their well-being, he says. Employers can use this data to get a better sense of workers’ mindset.

“So you can have a very objective survey, without actually asking any questions of your employees,” he says.

While VoiceSense can offer a better idea of a candidate’s skills, it’s also important to consider the type of position that the individual is applying for, Reich says. For example, an HR team should determine if that person will be working independently or acting as a manager. There are certain skills a manager might have that might not be necessary for an individual employee, he says. Other aspects, like a worker’s previous experience, should also come into play.

“If [an employee] going to be a one-man show, he doesn’t have to be as communicative,” he says.

VoiceSense is just one of a larger group of technology companies that are trying to improve the recruiting experience. HireIQ, a Georgia-based software company, also uses predictive analytics to assess a candidate’s speech during an initial screening. Emotional recognition software company Affectiva uses AI to evaluate applicant’s emotional intelligence by tracking their facial expressions and speech.

"We do not understand the content, only the music of the voice,” Reich says. “By analyzing the speech we are able to assess the tendencies of the person who is speaking."

Other products that use skills testing to assess an employee’s skills include Vervoe’s AI machine learning technology, which tests candidate’s on-the-job skills, and HackerRank’s coder evaluation tool.

VoiceSense’s technology is sold on a yearly license and is available to HR departments as part of a proof-of-concept trial. Reich says they are testing their product with an insurance company and an HR recruiting firm, but would not specify what companies currently use the system.

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