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Screening Potential Employees with Voice Analysis

The interview is a common part of the employment screening process for strong candidates. But voice analysis is turning this concept on its head. While you’ll likely still interview with a person in the end, your first stop might be an interview with a computer. And with this form of voice analysis, it isn’t what you say, but how you say it.

Computer Analysis and Hiring

The use of computer-based analysis in hiring is a well-known practice. Resumes and applications are scanned for keywords, determining whether the text will ever be seen by human eyes. Personality and behavioural testing is also nothing new. But, speech tests are the wave of the future.

As reported by the BBC, speech tests aim to assess communication skills, determine eligibility for promotions, or even gauge stress. And, at no point during the analysis, are your answers heard by a person.

Voice Analysis

Most voice analysis programs have candidates answer a series of questions, often for a duration of about 15 minutes. At its completion, the recording is analysed. Focus points include word choice, sentence structure, and general tone. Based on the results, companies hope to determine whether candidates possess personality traits like friendliness and enthusiasm. These results are compared to desired levels pre-defined by recruiters, and may affect whether you hear anything about the job after that.

The idea is to expedite the process for assessing personality. Even the most experienced interviewers and recruiters are hard-pressed to judge a person’s personality in such a short period. Instead, the computer program breaks down your recording, compares it to around half a million known idiosyncrasies in speech, and draws a conclusion. Then, it deletes your recording.

Implications in Hiring

Just as automated application screening is used to narrow down large lists of potential candidates, this voice analysis can do the same. However, the question remains as to whether it is an appropriate screening method at all.

Non-native speakers may struggle to rate well in these tests even if they are highly qualified and perfectly suitable for the position. Additionally, those with speech difficulties as the result of various medical conditions may be unfairly screened out.

There is also concern that participants would learn to manipulate the systems. And there is always the question of what happens if an applicant prefers not to participate in this form of screening.

Benefits to Companies

Certain companies may be well served by this sort of technology. For example, call centres and phone-based sales positions could be the ideal place for technology of this nature. Since the primary function an employee performs is communicating over the phone, having a test that analyses this capability specifically can speed screening for these positions.

Risks of Exclusion

Relying on these technologies too strongly can increase the risk of missing strong candidates since they were simply never seen (or heard) by an actual person. Often, these solutions are meant to supplement current efforts and not substitute for human involvement in the screening process. However, that may not stop companies from using it as an early part of the screening process. And possible eliminating certain candidates before they even had a chance.

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