Monday, December 19, 2016

Matlda: the gatekeeper to your new job - Not!

From the Financial Times last month.

Matlda the robot and Professor Khosla

"She specialises in interviewing candidates for sales positions. Although relatively new to the job, Matlda still knows more than those she grills and uses her arsenal of 76 questions with ruthless efficiency to assess a job hopeful’s skills and professional expertise.

"She starts her 25-minute sessions slowly, reading her interviewee’s emotions and putting them at ease by, for example, playing the music she knows they listen to at home.

Matlda is a 30cm tall robot designed to shortlist job applicants and interview them.


“When you are doing face to face interviews and you have 10 candidates, if you liked candidate number four, by the time candidate number seven arrives the decision is already made unless they are something exceptional,” says Prof Khosla. “Matlda gives candidates a fair go.”

" .. a robotic interviewer “monitors [the candidate’s] facial expression”, says Prof Khosla. “Is there any physiological response? Do they seem impassioned when they are relating their experience? That is very important information [to glean from] a face to face interview — it tells an interviewer they relate more intrinsically to that area.”

"The robot compares what it has learnt with the traits of successful employees at the company that is doing the hiring. This is particularly helpful in sales, where turnover is high. “It’s all based on how the emotional responses and cognitive responses benchmark against their most successful candidates in their own culture,” says Prof Khosla."
It seems to work, at least with some people.
"Yu Ang Tan, a software engineer who engaged in a trial interview with Matlda, found the process uplifting. “I feel that a Matlda-enabled interview process gives me the feeling of a more standardised interview process.

“At the same time, having the process conducted by a robot with a cute appearance encouraged me to open up to it in ways I would otherwise hold back with a human interviewer.”

This is so obviously a gimmick that I wouldn't normally have wasted your time with the piece. But job interviews have some salience in our household at the moment.

Alex has a panel after Christmas and is currently prepping by studying Scala, a souped-up descendant of Java that I hadn't heard of before. He has bought the 800 page book.

Flipping through it, I exclaimed: "This is basically Lisp!", thus restating Greenspun's Tenth Rule.

Amazon link

With Scala's polymorphic typing and higher-order functions, I found myself this morning having a conversation I would never have anticipated: lambda calculus and currying.

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