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Ep 388: Candidates In Control

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Challenging talent markets and the increasing adoption of AI-driven technology are driving a revolution in recruiting. We now see recruiting automation happening in many ways, and it’s becoming clear that talent acquisition is changing forever.

So how can employers use AI and automation technology to benefit recruiters and hiring managers and radically enhance the candidate experience?

To help answer these questions in a practical way, I have two brilliant guests: Rhonda Lloyd, Director of People Solutions & Recruiting at Webhelp and Barb Hyman, CEO at Predictive Hire.

In the interview, we discuss:

• How Webhelp is addressing recruiting challenges across the globe

• Putting candidates in control

• Is this the most innovative time we’ve ever seen in talent acquisition?

• Humans don’t scale

• Automation and Smart Technology

• Finding undiscovered talent

• The end of the resume?

• Giving personalized feedback to every candidate

• Increasing both speed and quality

• Re-imagining the role of the recruiter

• Ethics and transparency

• Advice to talent acquisition leaders around AI vendors

• Why the future is personalized

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcription:

Predictive Hire (ad) (0s):
Support for this podcast comes from Predictive Hire. Predictive higher is a frontier interview automation solution that solves three pain points in recruiting: bias, candidate experience, and efficiency. Their customers are typically those that receive an enormous amount of applications and are dissatisfied with how much collective time is spent on hiring. Unlike other forms of assessments, which can feel confrontational, Predictive Hire’s first interview is built on a text-based conversation. Totally familiar because text is central to our everyday lives.

Predictive Hire (ad) (40s):
Every candidate gets a chance at an interview by answering five relatable questions. Every candidate also receives personalized feedback. AI then reads the candidate’s answers for best fit. Translating assessments into personality readings, work-based traits, and communication skills. Candidates are scored and ranked in real-time, making screenings and 90 percent faster. Predictive Hire fits seamlessly into your HR tech stack. And with it, you will get off the Richter efficiency, reduce bias and humanize the application process. They call it hiring with heart.

Predictive Hire (ad) (1m 21s):
To find out more, go to PredictiveHire.com.

Matt Alder (1m 43s):
Hi, everyone. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 388 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. Challenging talent markets and the increasing adoption of AI-driven technology are driving a revolution in recruiting. We’re now seeing recruiting automation happening in many different ways and it’s becoming clear that talent acquisition is changing forever. So how can employers use AI and automation technology to benefit recruiters and hiring managers, and also radically enhance the candidate experience? To help answer these questions in a practical way, I have two brilliant guests, Rhonda Lloyd, Director of People, Solutions and Recruiting at Webhelp and Barb Hyman, CEO at Predictive Hire.

Matt Alder (2m 35s):
Hi, Rhonda. Hi, Barb. Welcome to the podcast. Could you just both introduce yourselves and tell us quickly what you do? Rhonda, could you go first?

Rhonda Lloyd (2m 45s):
Hi, Matt. Hi, Barb. Yeah, I’m Rhonda Lloyd. I am the Recruitment Director for Webhelp, UK region. So I have responsibility for recruiting passionate game changers across five different countries, the UK, India, South Africa, Mexico, and the US.

Matt Alder (3m 11s):
Fantastic stuff. And, Barb, could you introduce yourself and tell us what you.

Barb Hyman (3m 16s):
Yes, I’m here because Rhonda and Webhelp are one of our customers. I’m the CEO and founder of Predictive Hire. We are a company that’s built technology that dignifies, democratizes hiring using technology that’s been designed to actually remove bias. So we’re a hiring technology company.

Matt Alder (3m 34s):
The first question to Rhonda, you sort of described the scale of your role there and what you have to do. Talk us through the recruitment challenges that you see in your industry.

Rhonda Lloyd (3m 47s):
Yeah. So essentially, it’s a very, very interesting time. I think you ask any company, employer, recruiter right now, COVID has definitely had a big impact and the market is beyond anything that I have seen in my career before. So I’m happy to give you my sort of overview on what I think is happening in each of the different markets that I’ve described. So I get the opportunity to understand how five different markets work in five different countries. It’s really interesting to see what is happening globally.

Rhonda Lloyd (4m 30s):
So if we look, I’m based in the UK, so if I live close to home, there is without doubt a labor shortage. I think recently in the news last week, job vacancies in the UK exceeded 1 million, which is a staggering number. But what that means is it makes the market very competitive. So it is a job-seekers market and what we and other employers are having to do is become much more creative to improve our total reward package so that we attract candidates to us.

Rhonda Lloyd (5m 18s):
So that’s the UK, really difficult at the moment. Job seeker’s market, low number of job seekers to vacancies. That’s actually very similar to what we’re seeing in the US. It’s almost like for light market. India is interesting. The challenges that we face in India, it isn’t absolute war for talent right now, highly competitive. And again, a job seeker’s market. What we’re finding in India is that candidates are absolutely shopping around.

Rhonda Lloyd (5m 60s):
And also, we’re seeing that candidate will make a commitment to ourselves and we think, “Fantastic. We’ve, you know, hired a really great colleague to join my pal.” And then at the last minute, candidates will [inaudible] by other companies. That’s actually not dissimilar to Mexico. So a similar landscape there. And then in South Africa, we have very different challenges again. Now, unemployment rates are above 30 percent.

Rhonda Lloyd (6m 41s):
So there really is an availability of skilled talent out there, which is great. But then we have the challenge of the country infrastructure. Say, it can be a little bit unstable with power outages. People don’t typically have broadband, mobile data is very expensive. So, therefore, our ability to access talent pools enables people to work from home, et cetera, limits our options. So it’s really, the challenges are different in each of the countries, but to sum it up, I’d say at this point in time, the majority of countries, it is a job seeker’s market.

Rhonda Lloyd (7m 21s):
Importantly, how are we responding to these conditions? We’ve done a number of things differently to help people choose a career at Webhelp over the others. These changes have compelled over 250,000 talented individuals to apply, to become a passionate game-changer for Webhelp and our clients. This has helped us hire thousands of new Webhelpers who put our clients at the heart of what they do. So, specifically, what have we done differently? Well, we’ve gone big on all social media channels.

Rhonda Lloyd (8m 6s):
We’ve published our amazing people stories to bring to life our culture here at Webhelp. I’m sure you’ve seen our posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. We’re also using geo-targeted digital pop-up adverts on apps, such as Spotify and YouTube. So we’re present even when people are gaming or interacting on their phones or devices. Our work from home proposition is also now very well developed and attractive to candidates. And overall, what I’d say is we’ve made the candidate experience low effort without compromising our high standards.

Rhonda Lloyd (8m 57s):
Introducing Predictive Hire was transformational for us. It has put the candidate in control. They choose when to do their first interview and they get feedback.

Matt Alder (9m 8s):
And I suppose over the last couple of years, as this situation has sort of developed and come to a head, how have you seen recruitment changing and what does that journey look like?

Rhonda Lloyd (9m 22s):
So the change in recruitment, I think, has been accelerated in the last 18 months. And certainly, even the last six months as things have begun and the world has begun to open back up, I think people have re-evaluated the roles that they’re in or what they want out of life. So we’re seeing a big movement of talent across all of our different countries. I think fundamentally, what for me the shift has been, it is now candidate-led. So it is very much about what we can offer the candidate, not what they can offer us.

Rhonda Lloyd (10m 7s):
So, you know, it is without a doubt candidate first, candidate led. I think the other things, therefore, how we need to respond to that is the journey needs to be low effort. It needs to be engaging, and it absolutely needs to be on the channel of choice for candidates. So for Webhelp, AI is playing a big part for us and hence why we’ve partnered with Predictive Hire, but AI is playing a big part in society full stop. So if I think just on a personal level, you know, are my habits? How do I communicate with people?

Rhonda Lloyd (10m 50s):
Say, I much prefer to chat with friends and family via Messenger rather than through a call, and this is no different from candidates. You know, candidates want to contact us in their own time. They want to do their interviews when it suits them. And actually, the more that they can do via chat, or even to some degree video, the better for them. So tech will definitely, and is enabling us to continue to simplify the journey for candidates. It’s what they want.

Matt Alder (11m 30s):
Absolutely. And I completely empathize with that because I just get totally freaked out when people phone me and it’s unplanned. It’s people that I know, but, you know, happily chat on WhatsApp and, you know, Messenger the whole time I’m awake, basically. So moving coming over to Barb, is this the most innovative time that we’ve seen in recruiting? We’ve got technology, we’ve got all these challenges, and we’ve also got businesses moving very, very quickly because, you know, in lots of ways they’ve had to because of the pandemic and everything that’s been going on.

Barb Hyman (12m 7s):
Okay. I think, you know, the last 12 months there’s been such a change in what’s motivating people to turn to technology in recruitment. Last year, it was about actually there was a surplus of people in market and it was, “How do we find the very best people out of that huge volume of candidates that are coming in?” And now it’s actually about how do we move at a ridiculous pace to get that very small set of candidates that are interested in working for us? So the answer is still the same, which is automation reality is that humans and recruiters don’t scale. So the only way cost-effectively that you’re going to get to that talent fast is using smart technology.

Barb Hyman (12m 47s):
I think the other thing, you know, as Rhonda was saying, recruiters effectively harder to find now than software engineers is it’s almost, you know, necessity is the mother of all invention. So whilst the last 12 months, we’ve still seen some companies reluctant or a little bit fearful about AI, now what we’re seeing is they have no alternative, but to turn to that kind of technology. And what it requires is really looking beyond type, looking beyond the CV, trying to find that undiscovered talent, because, you know, there is just not enough people with the title that you’re looking for. So you have to look beyond the traditional type.

Barb Hyman (13m 28s):
And, you know, I think to me, what’s accelerated is I hope the death of the CV, because really if you’re still relying on a reading CVS, you’re missing the point in terms of finding talent and what candidate loves writing a CV and submitting a CV, and then getting asked to repeat all that same information in the ATS. So I think this idea of sort of disintermediating those traditional processes is gathering pace for companies.

Matt Alder (13m 58s):
Absolutely. I mean, it’s such an interesting time and I suppose the question to Rhonda about this, because, you know, we talk a lot about candidate experience and we talk a lot about automation, but I mean, how do you make sure that the candidate experience sort of lives up to and encapsulates the employer brand and the EVP?

Rhonda Lloyd (14m 18s):
For me, we are a people-first organization. So in recruitment, we also think candidate first. So when I look at the last 15 months, so this is how long, for example, we’ve been partnered with Predictive hire, we’ve received probably over a quarter of a million applications. And what Predictive Hire has enabled us to do is not only offer every candidate an interview but also give them personalized feedback, following that interview.

Rhonda Lloyd (15m 0s):
So every single applicant gets an interview and gets feedback. So for us, with our people-first approach and I think candidate first, this really does help candidates experience our employer brand. I think it’s probably also here with mentioning around what we are also doing to improve the candidate experience. So Recruitment for me is also about giving something back, but equally about meeting our company objectives.

Rhonda Lloyd (15m 44s):
So for us, Webhelp making business more human is the choice we have made to guide us in how we behave every day as a company, as an employer, and as a partner for our clients, investors, and suppliers. So our commitment to ESG forms an intrinsic part of how we do business and we make a positive impact. So as part of our global ESG strategy impact hiring will account for around 15 percent of our hires by 2025.

Rhonda Lloyd (16m 24s):
So we consciously and intentionally hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise would have limited prospects for formal employment. So again, our employer brand, I think human foundation, this is about ensuring that the candidates that come through to us equally feel and have that experience from day one. So from the point that they are afforded an interview, they get feedback, they then come on a career development journey with us.

Matt Alder (17m 2s):
Yeah. That’s amazing stuff that sounds like a fantastic initiative. And I can see how technology is something that’s gonna really kind of help you get there with that. I suppose another question on the experience that people get, what was the experience like for hiring managers say it’s something that technologies improved?

Rhonda Lloyd (17m 26s):
Technology has definitely improved the experience for both candidates and hiring managers. So if I look at it through the lens of a recruiter and indeed hiring managers, what we are able to do, so what the use of technology, the use of AI has allowed us to do is not only improve the experience and the journey for candidates but equally has allowed us to be much more efficient. So, therefore, we are able to identify those who are most suited to our roles because of the models that we build in the background.

Rhonda Lloyd (18m 13s):
So straight away, we are beginning to identify candidates who are most suited and therefore most likely to be successful. So again, if we’re shortlisting and submitting candidates to hiring managers, we are able to do that much more quickly, and we are able to give them much, much greater insight into that candidate. And that insight is born from bias-free objective assessments of that candidate. And equally, actually, it also then goes on to improve the experience for our trainers.

Rhonda Lloyd (19m 2s):
So as an organization who does work on behalf of the world’s most exciting brands, we have a huge training team who also benefit from the insights of these candidates, so should that be something that we need to do differently or adapt in training, et cetera. So the insights that we get are great for the candidates, the recruiters, the hiring managers, and also then through to training.

Matt Alder (19m 28s):
Well, can I kind of expand this question to bring Barb into the conversation at this point, because obviously, you’re working with lots of different organizations. What value are you seeing people get from this type of approach to recruiting?

Barb Hyman (19m 43s):
So there’s a day one value, which is just, you know, extraordinary efficiency. We’ve just gone live with a really large retailer who is recruiting 20,000 plus a year, and they are doing that within 24 hours of the candidate applying. They’re giving everyone an interview, as Rhonda said, they’re seeing an ethical plus from the use of this approach because there is no way that they could scale up and fund the opportunity for everyone to get an interview. And if they did use the normal approach, you know, you run the risk of bias in that process. And the value to them is the ability to actually fill roles really fast and in organizations which are sales-driven or customer-service driven, that makes a real difference to the business.

Barb Hyman (20m 32s):
And they’re also doing that without recruiters being involved in that process. So that’s probably the kind of extreme end of automation, but what we’re also seeing is really a chance for recruiters to re-imagine their role to go from being CV screeners and administrators to being talent business partners, to being talent concierges, to really partnering with the hiring manager to help them think through what are you really looking for in this role, and helping them navigate that hiring process with the minimum of bias. So I think for recruiters to be liberated and empowered, and to be much more dignified in the role they play is a big change. There’s obviously a huge efficiency impact, but also the other piece, which I think is really exciting driven by last year in Black Lives Matter is now businesses are saying we actually have to do something about diversity.

Barb Hyman (21m 21s):
We have to do something about interrupting bias, and it’s not going to happen with video interviewing. It has to be with something that’s purposeful, that’s blind. And so we’re seeing tremendous results in organizations. Woody’s being one who shared their story of how they’ve managed to achieve their diversity targets within, you know, six months or so that otherwise would have taken them another five years. So that ability to really hire and optimize for diversity, and I know it matters to Rhonda and Webhelp as well is a big motivator for people to turn to technology like ours.

Matt Alder (21m 53s):
One of the things that we’ve talked about on the podcast before was the importance of transparency and ethics when it comes to AI and recruiting technology. As more companies start to implement AI at scale, this is gonna become a bigger and bigger issue, isn’t it? So give us your thoughts on, you know, transparency and ethics, when it comes to, you know, when it comes to AI.

Barb Hyman (22m 18s):
I think, you know, Matt, my background is in HR. I was a CHR role. And for me, I always used to believe that trust in your culture is really critical to getting the best out of your people and the best for the business, and trust comes through transparency. And I think when you’re making decisions around people who you hire, who you promote, and you’re doing that without objective data, and you’re sitting around a table and passing judgment in a very opinionated way that does not enhance trust in paper decisions. So for me, that was a big motivation to start this company and build this tick. And I think it flows through to the way we’ve built the product in that for us. Anyway, we’re the only AI vendor to have peer-reviewed and published our science.

Barb Hyman (23m 1s):
We’ve created a standard that we live by that we’ve shared globally to help organizations navigate this space. And I think what I’d say to anyone, you know, in Rhonda shoes or anyone else thinking about AI is firstly, you have to. You know, there’s no escaping it because the power of AI is just so extraordinary for a business. It’s the only way to drive towards better business outcomes. You cannot improve quality of hire without the automation of that data and that learning from those people being hired and whether they’ve performed or not is to really lean in and be curious and educate yourself about this space. And don’t believe the puffery that you see on a whole lot of sites about we’re the only one with ethical AI, we’re the only one to have it independently evaluated.

Barb Hyman (23m 44s):
There’s no such thing, right? There is no regulation, which means there’s a much higher onus on the leaders to leverage data scientists in their organization and really learn and educate themselves about this. I’ve seen a big change in that over the last 12 months from the HR community.

Matt Alder (24m 2s):
Absolutely. And not really underlying, it’s just how complicated and confusing the buying process can be for employers when we’re looking at these types of technologies. I mean, Rhonda, can you tell us a little bit about, you know, the process for you? What were your sort of considerations when you were looking for a tech and AI solution to sort of, you know, bring you this kind of value?

Rhonda Lloyd (24m 28s):
Well, maybe I start with the light bulb moment that went on when we first saw Predictive Hire. So we attended a forum run by TalentTech Rising, and this is where organizations get the opportunity to do 10-minute slots in order to almost pitch their product. So a bit of a dragon’s den. And immediately when we saw it, we thought, actually, this could be a brilliant tool for us.

Rhonda Lloyd (25m 10s):
So we weren’t specifically looking at it, but we attended TalentTech Rising simply because we wanted to improve our candidate journey and we wanted to give our candidates something different. And equally, we were seeing at that point eve, because this was back in 2020, not long after COVID hit and therefore the number of applications that we received quadrupled and very consciously, we wanted to make sure that we were still giving those candidates a great experience.

Rhonda Lloyd (25m 58s):
So we saw Predictive Hire and we thought immediately, actually, this could be something that works for us. So following that we picked up immediately with Barb and the team of Predictive Hire. So buying considerations at that point was, well, it’s at least got to be cost-neutral I think is where we started at. It’s got to be easy, not only easy to use from a candidate’s perspective but actually easy to do business with a supplier, with Predictive Hire in this instance.

Rhonda Lloyd (26m 46s):
But also, it’s going to be easy for our recruiters because again, volumes were significant. So speed of implementation, cost-neutral, great concept experience were probably the biggest considerations. So those are the things that we had in our mind. What we didn’t realize until we then started getting into more of the detail were the benefits that sat behind it around the bias-free interviewing, the benefits of being candidate led, the fact that it is much more inclusive, and also candidates can access this on a channel of their choice.

Rhonda Lloyd (27m 41s):
So, you know, it’s mobile-friendly desktop, et cetera, and considering the deployment of this across multi-different countries with different challenges, that was again, really important to us. I think, Barb, correct me if I’m wrong here, but we went live in all countries as a pilot within four weeks. That’s just how easy it was. And then from that, we began then to build the integration into our systems because that was also another consideration. It needed to be as automated as possible. So, yeah, initially what we ended up with were far greater benefits than what we even considered when we were thinking about buying this product.

Matt Alder (28m 29s):
I mean, that’s brilliant to hear because that doesn’t actually happen very often in recruiting technology. It’s normally the opposite way round. So I think, you know, there was some great, you know, you’ve got some kind of great criteria there in terms of how you, how you move forward. For the final question, I just wanna talk a little bit about the future. We’ve talked about it being a really innovative time. We’ve talked about the challenges that the employers are facing at the moment. I’m interested to get everyone’s views on how this is gonna move forward. If we had this conversation again in a couple of years’ time, what would we be talking about? So I’m gonna ask that to Barb first.

Barb Hyman (29m 10s):
Yeah, look, I definitely think more personalization has to be part of how experiences are designed. I think companies wanna get close to their talent, but individuals also wanna get close to the company and people are looking for some intimacy in that experience, a connection. So I hope and expect that more of those experiences for more candidates across both white-collar and all roles are much more human and leverage technology in a way that feels dignifying that is obviously fair but also gives them something back. So what I really hope is what we offer now, this personalized feedback becomes the norm.

Barb Hyman (29m 51s):
I mean, we have a competitive edge now in market on that, but I really do hope it becomes a norm because the difference it makes to candidates is extraordinary in terms of their self-awareness and their motivation. And that’s really important right now when a lot of people feel pretty down about the world. So more personalization, a genuinely human-first approach. And I also think companies will be shouting from the rooftops about how AI has actually helped them drive, not just better connection with talent, but also better business outcomes. I think we’ll get to a point where it’s more normalized and companies won’t be so fearful about revealing that they’re using AI tech. Actually, I think it will be seen as something that’s a sign of being a very progressive company.

Matt Alder (30m 36s):
Absolutely. Rhonda, what are your thoughts?

Rhonda Lloyd (30m 36s):
Well, let’s put the COVID thing to one side, shall we because undoubtedly, we will still be talking about that in two years’ time. And actually, I’m hoping that we will be talking about it in relation to how it has accelerated the shift in mindset. So, you know, who knew we could have the world working from home in January 2020. We would have suggested that was a much slower ban. Likewise, I think we will see that, you know, that the shift towards more use of tech AI automating the process for talent will absolutely be right up there in terms of discussions, but I think it will also be focused very much on it being candidate-led.

Rhonda Lloyd (31m 26s):
So how can candidates self-serve? What can they do themselves? So it’s much more push rather than pull. For me personally and for Webhelp, we will absolutely be talking about impact hiring. I think human foundation and accessing really fantastic talent of the future through partnerships and organizations that give people a chance of employment. So those, for me, I think are the things that we’ll be talking about in two years’ time.

Rhonda Lloyd (32m 8s):
We’ll have to revisit and find out how.

Matt Alder (32m 13s):
Rhonda and Barb, thank you very much for joining me. My thanks to Barb and Rhonda. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at RecruitingFuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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