Wednesday, May 09, 2018 by David Williams
How would you feel if, after applying for a job, you learned that the recruiter who will be interviewing you is a robot? Would you feel comfortable with interacting with a bot for a job that you’d like to get hired for? One Russian startup has made such a robot possible, and in fact, it has already been in operation for the past two years.
Stafory, a Russian startup that is currently based in St. Petersburg and employs a total of 50 people, successfully created Robot Vera, artificial intelligence (AI) software that is meant to do one thing first and foremost: Help a number of high-level clients such as Ikea, L’Oréal, and Pepsi in filling their vacant jobs. It’s a robot that was meant to do human resources or recruitment work, basically, and it has been quite adept at it so far.
Based on reports about Robot Vera, its main benefits include the ability to speed up the process of hiring clerks, construction workers, and waiters – blue-collar and high-turnover service positions – and cut the time and costs required for their recruitment by up to one-third, according to the people who made it. That would be the duo of Vladimir Sveshnikov and Alexander Uraksin, who worked together as co-founders of Stafory.
The co-founders first thought of creating Robot Vera after experiencing a problem with recruitment first-hand. With their shared background in human resources, the two found themselves calling up hundreds of candidates before realizing that they could probably automate the process. Talking about their revelation two years ago, Uraksin said, “We felt like robots ourselves, so we figured it was better to automate the task.” (Related: Rise of the machines: A.I. technology could soon be taking over the jobs of supermarket managers.)
Vera, which is said to be named after Sveshnikov’s own mother, was created by combining speech recognition technologies from the likes of Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, and even Russia’s Yandex. Stafory’s in-house programmers also took 13 billion examples of syntax and speech from a wide assortment of sources such as job listings, TV, and Wikipedia, in an effort to expand Vera’s vocabulary and allow it to speak more naturally and also understand candidate responses.
So far, Vera is said to be capable of interviewing several hundred applications simultaneously through either video or voice calls, which helps cut down the time necessary to identify the most worthy candidates. Vera’s work involves her narrowing the field of candidates down to just the most suitable 10 percent, after which, the work gets turned over to human recruiters.
As of this writing, Vera has been working in Russia for about two years already. Stafory has since added clients in the Middle East, and with pilot projects based in the U.S. and Europe, it’s set to earn $1 million in revenues this year.
Is Vera perfect and capable of taking over recruitment jobs completely? Not at all. As Mikhail Chernomordikov, a Microsoft strategist in Dubai states, it shouldn’t be viewed as a full-on substitute to traditional HR offices. “Final decisions on hiring are reserved for humans,” he said. But with the way that technology is advancing, it’s unclear how long things will remain this way.
Learn more about the jobs where humans are being replaced by software and robotics at Robots.news.