Next time you apply for a job, the first person to interview you may not be a person at all – it might be a computer.
An Israeli company has developed an automated system to handle the first stage of the human resources process, analyzing the applicant’s voice responses to questions to see how trustworthy an employee they are likely to be.
No company wants an employee who is going to take drugs, steal from their employer or engage in other questionable activities. However, even experienced interviewers can be fooled by an interviewee who is doing everything to impress and not necessarily telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. While a human interviewer can quiz the applicant at length about his or her ethics and morals, trying to determine whether hiring them would be a risk, the Netanya-based Nemesysco claims that a computer can do it better.
Nemesysco’s HR1 Automated Integrity Profiling/Risk Assessment system, which was unveiled at the beginning of February, requires a job applicant to speak into a telephone-like handset attached to a desktop PC and answer questions on various topics, from loyalty and honesty to drug usage, theft from a place of employment, bribery, kickbacks, fraud and deceit. The test questions, which the company developed together with a human resources expert based on standard HR methodology, are displayed on the screen and spoken out loud, so that people with visual or hearing difficulties can use the system. HR1 is currently available in English, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish but can be translated into any language.
HR1 uses Nemesysco’s Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) technology, which employs over 800 algorithms to analyze 129 different parameters related to the emotional content of the responder’s voice when answering, regardless of the language they are speaking.
“The technology doesn’t care what you are saying,” explains Nemesysco’s founder and CEO, Amir Liberman. “The technology analyzes the different paths that your brain is taking while it is deciding what to say next. For example, if you are excited, your voice gets higher and faster. If you are confused, your speech slows down. You can try and mask your reaction at the level that you can hear, but computers can hear much better.”
The LVA technology, which Nemesysco developed in conjunction with a number of psychologists, analyzes states such as excitement, confusion, stress, whether the person is remembering something that happened or making something up. Liberman emphasizes that the subject should be alone in a room when using the system, and the interviewee’s answers to what are often sensitive questions are not stored so the potential employer cannot have access to them.
“This is the fairest and most ethical system that is out there,” Liberman told ISRAEL21c. “It is based on three fundamental elements: your past activities and how comfortable you feel about them, your ethics and how you feel about them, and the effect the environment has on your beliefs over time.”
HR1 assigns the potential employee scores for each category from 5 to 95: the higher the score, the higher the risk, so someone who scores 95 on drug usage, for example, would be “high risk.” The HR manager receives a printed report color-coding the responses for the different categories, and can then decide whether to call the person back for a second interview and focus on those subjects that the report highlighted as problematic.
Nemesysco, which was established in 2000 with $10,000 of Liberman’s own money and a $250,000 investment in 2003 from a private investor who is one of the company’s distributors in the US, has already sold the HR1 system in Israel and several other countries over the past month, and will be marketing the system in the US pending legal review. The cost of the system is pay-as-you-go system – costing $15 per employee test.
HR1 is just one of the Nemesysco’s range of products based on the LVA technology, which Liberman began developing in 1997: the company, which currently has 14 employees – all but two of whom are engaged in research and development – offers solutions for fraud prevention, quality assurance for customer service, tools for the intelligence and anti-terror markets, and products for personal use such as the Love Detector, which rates how devoted your beloved really is.
The next market, says Liberman, is medical: Nemesysco is working together with psychiatrists on the use of voice analysis systems for cognitive behavioral therapies, such as helping overcome phobias by accurately measuring a person’s stress levels when talking about various topics, for example. “This could be the “microscope’ of psychology,” enthuses Liberman. “This is a quantitive tool, and it opens up the market to a whole new range of further treatments.” The first voice analysis products for the medical community will be available at the end of 2006.
Liberman is also planning to take the company public, probably on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) at the beginning of 2007.
So the next time you apply for a job, it might not be the gray-suited HR manager you have to impress, but a much more sensitive PC which can “hear” if you are telling anything less than the whole story.