Tengai, Sweden's Recruiting Robot


Few things have caused as much buzz this year as Tengai Unbiased, the recruiting robot from a company in Sweden that has garnered responses from creeped-out to amazement. The boys decided to find out for themselves and interview the team - and the robot - during a trip to TAtech in Lisbon.

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Chad: Hey, this is Chad. We were in Lisbon this week, for TAtech Europe, where we had a chance to sit down with the Tengai team. That's right, the interviewing robot. And we're talking to Elin, who is the chief innovation officer. And also Charlotte, who is the marketing genius over there. Check it out, after this word from our sponsor.

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Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman, are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snack, buckle up boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel: Hey, what's up everybody? It's Joel Cheesman of the Chad and Cheese podcast, with Chad. So as usual-

Chad: Hello!

Joel: We're here in Lisbon, Portugal, for the TAtech Europe show, and we've had kids on the show, we've had the occasional dog bark, and we're breaking new ground this week with a robot.

Chad: A robot.

Joel: Let's get this out of the way.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: It's pronounced Tengai.

Chad: Tengai.

Joel: Not Tengai, which we will probably mess up in the interview, but Tengai is officially how you pronounce it. As additionally with us today is Founder? Or, I'm going to screw up the last name, and I don't know the title, so we have Elin and Charlotte.

Chad: It's going to be like Madonna, because I'm not-

Joel: So, we have the marketing with Charlotte-

Chad: Saying her last name later.

Joel: And you looked at me weird when I said Founder, so I was obviously incorrect.

Elin: Yeah. Chief innovation officer.

Joel: Chief innovation officer, which is way sexier than founder.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: And we have Tengai. Tengai, welcome to the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Tengai: Good morning.

Joel: And it is a good morning. The pause there was, it's still a little bit unnerving to be talking to a robot, I think. It's going to take a little time.

Tengai: Hi. This is Tengai, the unbiased interview robot. You're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I love these guys.

Joel: And I love that.

Chad: Somebody's pandering.

Joel: That's great.

Chad: Somebody's pandering. I don't know, and I think that's incredibly smart.

Joel: Yeah. Nobody panders like the Swedes.

Chad: Yeah?

Joel: I guess. Yeah.

Chad: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Joel: That's good stuff.

Chad: So Charlotte, in charge of marketing, and obviously, marketing-

Joel: And doing a hell of a job, by the way.

Chad: Marketing's something that doesn't exist-

Joel: This damn robot is all over my feed.

Chad: Yeah! So, there is nothing like this out there. You must have the easiest job in the world. I say that with a tad sarcasm, right?

Charlotte: Yeah. It's a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun with it. But, we have to balance the fact that everyone thinks this is absolutely the best product, and the greatest, most fun

product.

Chad: Right.

Charlotte: With the fact that we actually want to sell a product-

Chad: Yeah.

Charlotte: ... that that's for a good purpose. So, we have to keep a balance between being serious, and talk about the scientific facts with this, as well as the cool aspects of it.

Joel: So, you were telling a story about how the PR on this thing blew up. So, you had the BBC-

Charlotte: Yes.

Joel: Write a story, and then what happened after that?

Charlotte: Actually, what started it out was, we got some press in Sweden, and one of the biggest dailies picked it up, and then BBC sold it, a freelancer in Sweden, a BBC freelancer. So, I pitched it to BBC. They came over with a TV crew, filmed it, and then it just exploded. And then picked it up, showed it to BBC, and then Mashable picked it up.

Chad: So, at that point, the C suite at TNG, had to be like total ape shit, like, "Oh my god! We have found the next thing that we want to do," Or, was it kind of, because again, we're Americans, and we just freak out about everything. So, in Sweden, was it more of a kind of a calm, "Oh, okay. Well, this is kind of cool. Maybe we should think about this a little bit more."

Charlotte: Well, we work very organic at TNG, and over time, including in the marketing, so we do everything ourselves. We don't have a peer agency. It's from the people working there all the time-

Chad: Yeah.

Charlotte: And we include a lot of people in the company, so everyone has a take in it, and are very enthusiastic. So, when it started rolling, everyone pitched in, and everyone is very engaged, everyone shares things, they comment on stuff so that help it going.

Chad: Yeah.

Charlotte: So, when it starts kicking in, it was more like, "Yay, we did this together. This is kick ass. We're all a part of it." And that made a big deal, I think, internally too, so a lot of pride.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: And so, earlier you mentioned sort of the feedback on social media was immense. What would you say was sort of the overall sentiment? Was it positive, negative, a little mix of both of those?

Charlotte: I would say it's a mix of both, especially reading all the newspaper comments, was quite interesting, to go through the comments section, because it's two parts. One, where people has been treated not as fairly by recruiters.

Chad: Yeah.

Charlotte: They feel they've been discriminated, and they think it's absolutely wonderful. Other people are quite scared. They think it's a bit scary with a robot. They're going to take our jobs, not really seeing the potential that this can help them get a job.

Chad: Right.

Charlotte: So, it's a mix of both. But again, it's new technology. No one has ever done this before. It's completely new.

Chad: Yeah.

Charlotte: So we're on new ground.

Joel: So, how many single guys were looking for dates in the comments?

Elin: Good question.