According to Nathan Mondragon, finding the right employee is all about looking at the little things. Tens of thousands of little things, as it turns out. Mondragon is the head psychologist at Hirevue, a company that offers software that screens job candidates using algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). Hirevue’s flagship product, used by global giants such as Unilever and Goldman Sachs, asks candidates to answer standard interview questions in front of a camera. Meanwhile its software, like a team of hawk-eyed psychologists hiding behind a mirror, makes note of thousands of barely perceptible changes in posture, facial expression, vocal tone and word choice.
“We break the answers people give down into many thousands of data points, into verbal and non-verbal cues,” says Mondragon. “If you’re answering a question about how you would spend a million dollars, your eyes would tend to shift upward, your verbal cues would go silent, or turn to ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. Your head would tilt slightly upward with your eyes. The facial movement analytics would tell us you were going into a creative thinking style.”
The program turns this data into a score, which is then compared against one the program has already “learned” from top-performing employees. The idea is that a good prospective employee looks a lot like a good current employee, just not in any way a human interviewer would notice.