Hey, job seekers! Got a great voice?
I hope so. A new software program now in use by many large employers – Marriott, Hyatt, Panera Bread, Jimmy John’s, and Labor Ready, to name a few – records your phoned answers to various questions. It then scores you based on whether you have a “soothing” voice likely to appeal to customers. If the algorithm decides your voice is pleasant enough, you’ll move to the next stage of the hiring process. If not, you’re out.
The software is in use now to screen candidates for hourly-wage jobs – hotels, restaurants and fast-food chains, for example. But it’s quickly expanding to screen candidates for higher-level positions. The developer, Jobaline, claims the software minimizes discrimination in hiring. But I can’t see how. Employers can log in and listen to the recorded statements of the candidates. That alone is enough to draw unmistakable clues about the candidates’ race, age, and national origin. Such recordings will also reveal speech defects for those with speech-related disorders that might be unrelated to job duties. These clues are otherwise unavailable prior to an in-person or live phone interview.
Here’s a description of the “Voice Analyzer:
One of Jobaline’s newest offerings is the Voice Analyzer, a tool that recommends applicants for jobs based on how their speaking voice make listeners feel. It is based on algorithms that help evaluate paralinguistic elements of speech, including tone and inflection, which in turn will predict the emotions the voice will trigger — from excitement to calmness. Based on the result of the candidate’s speech analysis, Jobaline will then direct him or her to the job that he or she will most likely excel in — regardless of other personal factors. Salazar says that this process helps give everyone a fair chance and removes prejudice.
There are no studies suggesting voice is a predictor of job performance in any line of work. Even major music and film studios look at the complete package, not just voice. Charisma and appeal can’t be reduced to a set of mathematical rules.
Sometimes people with gruff voices are the most endearing. Remember Clara Peller, the hilarious “customer” from the Wendy’s commercials, barking “Where’s the beef?” How would the Voice Analyzer rate her?