Facial metrics meets job interviews and draft selection
Many people will tell you that it is what you DO not what you SAY that actually speaks volumes. They are referring to body language – like how nervous you look by motions such as shaking, lack of eye contact or many other tell-tale signs. One only has to talk to an experienced Police Investigator (or in my case, my parents) to know that these signs usually reveal the truth.
The same can likely be said when someone interviews a potential candidate to join their organisation. It’s a given that most interviewers will pay strong attention to what the candidate says, but personally I always pay equal attention to how they act. While a certain level of nervousness is obviously going to occur in such a stressful situation, I want to make sure that their body language lines up to what they are saying.
When it comes to sports, the stakes are much higher. An entire franchise’s fortunes can turn on getting that one superstar…..especially when you find a “diamond in the rough”. As such, sports owners have started to use many tools to help find that “special something” in an athlete that others do not see…or in some cases, it may be to find flaws in players so that you avoid picking them. To date, this has included physical tests (such as the well heralded NFL Combine) as well as intellectual and psychological tests. Now they even include a test that analyzes facial muscles…
Just the FACS, Ma’am, as in Facial Action Coding System. The system is being used by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and likely by others who are more secretive. The applications are wide-spread with one example being the ability to see the strain on people’s faces during interviews/workouts…a visual that may detect how they handle stress or even gauge fitness levels.
The system has obvious appeal to sports that do not have protective head gear, so it does lend itself best to a baseball or basketball team versus a football or auto racing organisation. Since this system can be performed from any video feed, it also allows better overall scouting for players whom the scouts are not able to see on a regular basis.
The Bottom Line
So, would this work? I don’t doubt that the technology has some merit as a whole. It was developed for the advertising sector to monitor the reaction of people to certain brands or advertisements. The world of advertising is a competitive one, so the technology is likely well proven. However, I am not totally convinced that it will be as effective with athletes. I have seen pictures of myself while running long-distance races. Many of the pictures look like I am about to have a heart attack, when in fact I was feeling quite good at that time. That being said, I am not sure if someone’s mental and physical conditions are fully predictable by these metrics, yet at the same time it likely has some merit when it comes to the interview phases of the draft selection.