Yes, you read that correctly. EEGs, as in electroencephalogram, a device full of small disks and electrodes that doctors hook to one’s head to monitor the electrical activity of a patient’s brain, could one day be used in the hiring process.
Several companies have developed what are described as “consumer-friendly EEG headsets” which look similar to a wireless headset that a gamer might wear. An employee would conceivably arrive at a company, don the headset with the help of a technician, and begin a series of tasks while the computer records data. The data is then uploaded and interpreted into a report by proprietary software. The report can then provide customized suggestions to the employee about how they can achieve greater productivity and engagement. These suggestions are based on the employee’s high or low levels of activity while performing certain tasks. Sounds pretty complicated doesn’t it, and I will admit I don’t fully understand how EEGs work in general, but in short the more active your brain is, the more engaged you are.
EEGs can also measure different skills by monitoring the networks of the brain responsible for those skills. The skills determined can be broad, such as social rapport building, to detailed, such as whether an individual prefers to communicate via email or by talking. The detail depends on how many biosensors a headset offers.
I was impressed to find out this technology is pretty affordable. The headset above costs only $79.99 and moves upward from there depending on how many apps are bundled with it. When you examine how video interviewing has evolved in price from expensive multi-conference units costing thousands to the now more affordable vendor based services that enable you to interview for a few bucks a candidate, one could logically deduce that the price of these headsets will continue to drop as adoption increases while simultaneously the performance of the apps improve.
Are these devices the future of hiring though? One of the earlier impediments to the adoption of video interviewing was the perceived potential for discrimination. I’m curious how the brain wave activities of varying ethnicities, ages and genders may differ from one another and if one group produces what might be labeled a “preferred” brain wave pattern. Additionally as was the concern with video interviewing, the candidate’s race, gender, ethnicity, etc. will have to be determined prior to the face to face interview. The technology, while affordable enough for companies to repeatedly use, is still too expensive to require a job candidate or employee to purchase themselves. Thus the employee or candidate would have to be outfitted by an employee with the company’s hardware. Obviously their age, gender ethnicity will be revealed at this stage.
As a former search consultant who has used behavioral assessments and video interviewing in the hiring process, and has at times received push back from job candidates on such measures, I wonder how employers will be able to hook such devices up to candidates without resistance? Employees might be less inclined to resist than job candidates but HR will need to ensure they maintain the privacy of the employee’s data and educate the employee fully on what data will be gleaned from these devices.
I am not thoroughly educated on the extent of what brain wave patterns reveal, but if they can determine if a candidate’s preferred method of communication might they not also determine if a candidate is more pre-disposed to alcoholism, rage or sociopathy? Are we not opening up a whole new world where not only our bodies are discriminated against but our minds too?