Unilever saves money, human hours using artificial intelligence


The technology scans graduate candidates’ body language, word choice, facial expressions, and checks them against traits that are considered to be predictive of professional success (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).
The technology scans graduate candidates’ body language, word choice, facial expressions, and checks them against traits that are considered to be predictive of professional success (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).

AN ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) system has helped British consumer goods giant Unilever save hundreds of thousands pounds a year.



The AI system being used by the London-based business has replaced human recruiters with the AI system.

The company has also saved 100,000 hours of human recruitment time in 2018 by using AI to analyse video interviews, the Guardian reported.

The technology scans graduate candidates’ body language, word choice, facial expressions, and checks them against traits that are considered to be predictive of professional success.



Unilever is using software from an American company, HireVue, in the UK and other parts of the world, having first trialled it in 2017.

The software scans the language that the candidates use. It analyses active or passive phrases, tone of voice, speed of delivery, facial expressions and body language.

A Unilever spokeswoman quoted by the Guardian said: “It is helping to save 100,000 hours of interviewing time and roughly $1m in recruitment costs each year for us globally”.



“It is, however, just one of many tools we use for our graduate recruitment.”

The spokeswoman noted that video interviews were optional, and the interviewees were asked to allow or disallow the AI-based software being used to evaluate their video interview.

The AI system is now used across Unilever’s entire graduate recruitment programme.



HireVue claims it has helped to recruit more ethnically and gender-diverse workforce.

Unilever said that at the early phase in the recruitment process when HireVue was used, it was not mandatory for candidates to provide their gender or ethnicity so it was not able to give representative information.

Meanwhile, on Friday (25), a data from an opinion poll commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) states 60 per cent of the public are against the use of AI decision-making software in recruitment, as well as in criminal justice.

Asheem Singh, acting head of technology and society at the RSA, said: “New technologies are being adopted at a rapid pace, and regulators and the public are struggling to keep up.”

“An increasing amount of decision-making in our public services, the job market and healthcare is taking place via ever-more opaque processes. This is a source of anxiety for the general public.

“The measures we are proposing – such as a new watchdog to scrutinise decisions made by AI on behalf of the public – are crucial first steps in increasing clarity and accountability.”