Creating a More Unbiased and Fair Job Interview

With Tengai we are challenging the traditional job interview – “the black box of recruitment”. Why is this our mission? In the end, it all comes down to three things. First, a passion to create a fair job interview process where candidates get a chance to show their potential. Second, a mission to seriously attempt to mitigate bias throughout the recruitment funnel. And finally, a vision to make the labor market more diverse and accessible for all.

The idea behind Tengai originated at Swedish recruitment and staffing agency TNG. Over the past 15 years, TNG has specialized in unbiased, data-driven, structured and competency-based hiring. Always aiming to create an inclusive, fair and more transparent candidate experience, while removing unconscious prejudices to deliver more diverse teams.

Starting Point

In order to fulfill their vision, TNG has augmented and designed its own recruitment and hiring tools. Their aim is to assist recruiters to be more objective during the selection and assessment phase. However, when looking at the job interview – the most critical stage of the recruitment process – unconscious bias appeared to be the last roadblock.

Therefore, TNG put together an innovation lab called TNGx with a team of specialists, leaders, and recruiters. Their vision was to integrate 15 years of unbiased recruitment methodology in a diversity and inclusion software. The team discussed if it would be possible to treat candidates fairly. And also give all job seekers the same evaluation and interview experience. TNGx focused on how to give hiring managers and recruiters more objective candidate-data. Especially in regard to soft skills and personality traits. The goal was to create a human-like experience, free from unconscious bias. A place where candidates would engage in an active dialogue with the robot. And where they could feel safe, comfortable to be honest so they really could show their potential and competencies.

TNG – unbiased recruitment and staffing

“TNG stands for The Next Generation in recruitment. The company’s vision is to look beyond the obvious and see the potential in all talent. Regardless of age, gender, appearance, ethnicity, background, name, while bringing the strengths of deep diversity to the surface.”

Successful Collaboration

Entering Furhat Robotics, a Swedish award-winning tech company specializing in social robotics. Furhat contributed with Tengai’s physical body and software platform. Making it possible for TNG to implement their unbiased and fair recruitment methodology in a diversity and inclusion software. In other words, Furhat Robotics provided the conversational robot platform on which TNG programmed the D&I software application. And it’s the software that controls how Tengai behaves and her capacity to conduct structured and situational-based interviews.

Today, the Tengai team continues to use Furhat’s platform in order to update and develop the recruitment tool to create a fair job interview experience. A successful collaboration between innovative companies with one common mission.

What’s In The Name?

The name Tengai derives from several sources. The name actually derives from a hat worn by Komuso, Japanese mendicant monks within Zen Buddhism during the Edo period of 1600–1868 called Tengai.

A traditional Tengai is made of woven straw and covers a monk’s head and face. By wearing a Tengai, the monks “removed their ego” and could focus on what was at hand and nothing else. Exactly how we think an interview should be done. That is, a recruiter should only focus on skills and competencies. And not let their own biases or prejudices affect them. This includes not judging someone’s looks, tone of voice, gestures, ability to hold eye contact or their handshake.

The name also pays homage to Tengai’s “birth mother” TNG and the company’s core mission to work with unbiased recruitment as well as to Furhat Robotic’s technical know-how within artificial intelligence.

Why is unbiased interview robot Tengai called Tengai? The story behind the name

Source: Wikipedia

Facilitating a More Fair Job Interview

This is TNG’s basic principles for unbiased recruitment, which also is the foundation of Tengai’s software.

1. Challenging the Requirement Profile

TNG challenges job-requirements by questioning old truths. This makes hiring managers think in terms of possibilities and future achievements, rather than look-alikes and historical background.

2. Blind, Anonymous and Objective Process

Presumptions around age, gender, culture, ethnics, and religion color our judgment. Therefore, TNG has developed a recruitment process that is anonymous and objective in order to reduce unconscious bias. And they don’t ask for cover letters.

3. Inclusive Recruitment Marketing

TNG creates talent marketing that uses inclusive language. For example, this means that they don’t use words associated with age, gender, and culture. Furthermore, they share all available positions on open platforms and social media for any interested job seeker. Even during targeted ad activities, TNG excludes age, gender, and educational references.

4. All Candidates are Treated Fair and Equal

All job seekers get to perform occupational screening tests validated to predict successful skills for that specific and unique role. It is not the highest score that is most important, but the one with the unique skill-set.

5. Psychometric, Data-driven, Measurable

TNG’s process defines competence and measures KPI’s for personality traits, motivation, aptitude, knowledge, and experience. The objective approach ensures consistency and brings more structure into the process.

6. Transparent and Candidate Driven

Candidates can follow their application in real-time since the TNG recruiter’s every step is mirrored online. Job seekers also receive continuous communication through customized e-mails or texts. In addition, all candidates get an explanation of why they weren’t selected for the position immediately. So they don’t have to wait for the final stage of the recruitment process.