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Ep 551: Interviewerless Interviewing

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If you have been listening to the recent episodes of the show, you’ll have noticed the considerable amount of innovation currently happening in high-volume hiring. Driven by skill shortages and automation technology, high volume is the area that has given us an insight into what the future might be like for talent acquisition.

Over the next two episodes, I will dive deeper into automation and AI in high-volume hiring by speaking to technology CEOs with products that are helping to shape the future.

My first guest is Stephane Rivard, CEO and Co-Founder of Hiring Branch. Several Hiring Branch’s customers have used the technology to move away from human interviews completely. Stephane talks us through the results they are getting and the implications for the future of talent acquisition.

In the interview, we discuss:

• Is recruiting automation gaining traction?

• Predicting job performance via scenario-driven assessment

• Previewing the work and showcasing skills

• Removing bias

• Will this approach spread beyond high volume?

• Hiring within 24 hours

• Selling the role and organization

• Improving the quality of hire

• Resources, efficiencies, budgets, legislation and regulation

• Recruiter career prospects and advice to TA leaders

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts

Transcript:

Matt: If you’re a fan of the Recruiting Future podcast, then you will absolutely love our newsletter, Recruiting Future Feast. Not only does it give you the inside track on what’s coming up on the show, you can also find everything from book recommendations to insightful episodes from the archives, and first access to new content that helps you to understand where our industry is heading. Sign up now, and also get instant access to the recording of my recent webinar on the future of talent acquisition. Just go to recruitingfuturefeast.com/webinar. That’s recruitingfuturefeast dotcom slash webinar.

[Recruiting Future theme]

Presenter: There’s been more of scientific discovery, more of technical advancement and material progress in your lifetime and mine than in all the ages of history.

Matt: Hi, there, this is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 551 of the Recruiting Future podcast. If you have been listening to the recent episodes of the show, you’ll have noticed the considerable amount of innovation currently happening in high-volume hiring. Driven by skill shortages and automation technology, high volume is the area that has given us an insight into what the future might be like for talent acquisition.

Over the next two episodes, I will dive deeper into automation and AI in high-volume hiring by speaking to technology CEOs with products that are helping to shape the future.

My first guest is Stephane Rivard, CEO and Co-Founder of Hiring Branch. Several Hiring Branch’s customers have used the technology to move away from human interviews completely. Stephane talks us through the results they are getting and the implications for the future of talent acquisition. Hi, Stephane, and welcome to the podcast.

Stephane: Thanks, Matt. Great to be here today, and excited to be talking about the future of interviews hiring.

Matt: Absolutely. Well, it’s a great pleasure to have you on the show. Before we get started, could you just introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Stephane: Yeah. So, my name is Stephane Rivard and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Hiring Branch. And what we’ve done is that we’ve built a pre hire assessment that gives a candidate a preview of the job. They actually get to do the job for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes, and we measure how well they’ll do at the job using artificial intelligence.

Matt: Now, you mentioned interviewless interviewing right at the start there. One of the things that we’ve talked about quite a lot this year on the podcast is this whole concept of recruit less recruiting or the recruitment process being disrupted by AI and having less humans working in it, as it were. What’s your take on all that? Is this an idea that’s gaining traction? What are you seeing?

Stephane: Yeah, I think it is gaining traction and for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is especially in high-volume hiring, which I think accounts for about 80% of large enterprise hiring. So, we’re talking about types of roles that are customer facing. It could be support roles, or sales roles, or anything to do with the customer. We’re seeing typically outside of North America. They tend to be a lot of candidates, especially for brands that are popular, so you can imagine your large enterprise customers and they can get inundated with CVs or resumes. It’s very difficult to find from a CV, how well that candidate will do a job.

So, I think that by introducing more automation into the process, you can find candidates that have the skills that directly lead to performance in your organization. So, more and more as we see these from our customers being deployed, they start deploying into multiple verticals that they hadn’t seen before. So, there is a definite uptrend in this and we can also see the results are starting to prove from themselves.

Matt: Are they still using recruiters or have they moved to recruiter less recruiting?

Stephane: Well, I think the recruiter’s job just simply changes. So, the recruiter in a traditional project that we go into, they’re typically screening for CVs, doing a phone interview at the beginning, and then eventually we’ll have the candidate come in. I think that by using recruiter more effectively is that they’re using technology at the beginning to be able to screen down from 1,000 potential candidates to down to maybe 100 or 200 or even sometimes they hire directly.

They’re using the recruiter as more as an operational base really to make sure that how well they’ve done on the pre-hire assessments perform in the real world. So, the role of the recruiter is just changing, and it’s freeing them up from spending countless hours interviewing and interviewing people that you really don’t know if you’re going to perform. So, I think the recruiter will always be there, but I think the role and the responsibilities of recruiter are moving up the chain to more important roles.

Matt: So, one of the things that, when we were talking about AI and automation and what might happen to recruiting a few years ago, one of the biggest concerns was around candidate experience and the ability to assess people. I suppose the recent developments in AI, how has it solved those problems? Is it giving a better candidate experience and what do you see happening to the interview?

Stephane: One of the things that concerns when we go to do this recruiter list or using an assessment as initial step is that recruiters are terrified to not be able to fill all the vacancies. The reality of what we’re seeing is that it’s the opposite. Candidates from all these research is that they’re feeling more confident and they feel they have a better opportunity to showcase their abilities when they use a really assessment designed for that role. So, it’s really changed. They’re getting more candidates.

I think for the candidates, it’s a better experience because from the approach we’ve taken, which is a really scenario-based where you get to handle customer calls and speak to customers in a mock way that it gives a candidate also a preview of the kind of work they’re going to be doing. And sometimes doing sales roles, you may think you’re really good at it until you actually start talking to potential customers. It’s not everybody can do it. So, it really helps you to showcase your skills. And candidates want that ability. That’s really important. And sometimes in an interview, this is difficult to showcase in just when you have a 10-minute interview or 15iminute, especially high-volume hiring.

Matt: No, absolutely. I think it’s really interesting because there is this kind of big debate about if CVs and interviews aren’t the best way of hiring people, what is–? I’ve seen all kinds of discussions about different types of assessment and all those kinds of things, but I suppose allowing people to do the job and see how they match up in terms of those real scenarios is really interesting. Tell us a little bit more about how that works.

Stephane: Yeah, I think that really the [unintelligible [00:07:14] wrote an article. If you try to use a scenario driven approach and you’re really evaluating the candidates’ abilities really on specific things such, let’s say, we’re talking about a call center job or a contact center job, where you have to take customer complaints or help resolve problems. If you put them that kind of scenario and then you get that candidate to respond, then using artificial intelligence, you can measure hundreds and hundreds of metrics effectively, efficiently, and you can repeat this process over and over again.

With our customers, we can really hone down to specific skills, especially with the kind of framework that we use using a soft skills framework as part of the underlying technology is that we can pick out the specific skill set that drive success, and that’s really how it’s changing. I think that’s really something that no one really looked at about.

Companies, they’re looking at metrics and looking at optimization and measuring things. Before hiring, it was very difficult to measure. How do you measure an interview, how well that person will perform? I think using artificial intelligence and using all these hundreds of metrics that we’ve come up with really allows you to hone in on specific skills that will drive success for your company.

Matt: Obviously, we’re talking about this in the context of high-volume hiring and it is an area where we’re seeing a huge amount of innovation and a lot of that is being driven by the market and the need to hire people quickly. Do you think this kind of approach is limited to these kind of areas or could it spread throughout different types of recruiting?

Stephane: Well, I think that as we deploy this in certain specific jobs, we’re getting that same demand for moving up the chain. So, one of our large clients, they operate globally. They want to start testing their hires that have proven to be successful for team building skills or leadership skills. Is there a way for us? So, we are experimenting. We have some research going on to be able using up the skills.

So, I think anytime that you have an opportunity to measure someone in an unbiased way using an approach and framework that is completely unbiased and really specific on certain skills, then there’s a huge opportunity to use this time of technology. think that’s proven over and over again. We’ve successfully done it in the high-volume hiring where we can improve every single important metric in a company depending on the business outcomes.

So, to answer your question, I think there is an opportunity to do that. I think that as you’re going higher up, the role of the interviewer or the role of the recruiter will still be important, but I think it’s just giving him more information to be able to make great sound business decisions.

Matt: Is there anyone you’re working with at the moment who’s scrapped the interview entirely and automated the whole recruitment process?

Stephane: So, most of our customers scrap the interview process completely after probably six months. It is nerve wracking to scrap that whole. But they do scrap it and they change that interview process into a job fit process. So, what that means is that they’ve validated that candidate has the skills and they will have, at that point, either they’ll have someone do an operational interview to make sure that they’re a cultural fit. So, we’re seeing more and more of that at the end of that whole process, which happens very quickly, by the way, you can hire someone within 24 hours. That last part is where you interact with that candidate to find out if they’re a good fit, if they have a cultural fit with your organization. So, we’re seeing that.

We have other customers who’ve scrapped it completely. Really the only time that they’ll talk to someone from the company is really for the onboarding process. So, it really depends on how your organization fits. But I still think that the last part is really important to meet a human. At the end of the day, if you’re going to hire someone to talk to your customers, then you should have a chance to talk to that candidate also.

Matt: Yeah. I suppose does it work from the flip side as well, because one of the things about interviews is the opportunity for the candidate to ask questions about the roles, and in some cases, for the recruiter to sell the role and sell the organization. Where does that process go to and sit in this way of working? How does the employer persuade the candidate that this is the opportunity for them?

Stephane: Yeah. I think that part of when we’re going into the pre-hire assessment, we do a bit of custom work on them to fit that role. But the companies have an opportunity within the experience to really share about the culture of the company within that and giving them the candidate a lot of information about the company and the role and the opportunities. So, we’re seeing that kind of contact being introduced into the assessment. I think back to the last so is really at the end, back into the cultural fit.

You have to realize that people hire who are applying for high volume jobs, they really want a quick answer. So, by removing all these initial steps that typically take up to 24 days, like scheduling interviews, rescheduling interviews, screening interviews, instead of you really– The first step you do is you do this pre-hire assessments. It gives you a preview of what the kind of work, what’s the culture of the company, and then the recruiter can reach out to you within 24 hours and you can typically be hired within 48 hours. So, I think all these steps is really encouraging, and it really gives a good feeling for those employees. It gives them really a good understanding of what that company is about.

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I suppose, in terms of timescales moving towards the future, so, you’re seeing evidence that this is working, you’ve got clients who are moving away from interviews, some of them potentially scrapping them altogether. How long do you think it would take for that to be the norm in high-volume hiring? Is this a movement that’s gaining traction?

Stephane: Yeah. We did see an inflection point. I think with the advent of ChatGPT and people realizing what you can accomplish with artificial intelligence, all of a sudden, people are paying more attention. So, at the moment, we’re seeing all our clients and potential clients really trying to crack this nut and really trying to figure out how to accelerate. So, we’re seeing this accelerate at the moment, especially for specific roles which can be really well geared to moving to this process. So, I think within the next 6 months to 24 months, we’re going to see all high-volume hiring will be recruiter less.

Matt: What are the implications for that? I suppose there’s two bits to this. The first part is, what’s the implication for the industry in terms of resources and money saved and all that kind of thing?

Stephane: Well, I think that’s the benefit of it. There’s two benefits that we’ve seen from our– First of all is the efficiencies. You’re streamlining operations, so you can save tons of resources and optimize your recruiting talent acquisition department by going to this approach and letting them really focus on other tasks. And the other two phases that you really get a lot of benefit, we see our customers typically improve any kind of metric they have by using a standard repeatable process in their hiring. We’re seeing companies generate who are in a sales organizations generating up to 10% to 12% more revenue just by changing the way that they evaluate candidates, by replacing an interview with an automated, which is really fascinating. It’s not something that went out to accomplish. We really wanted to provide better tools and our customers report this back to us.

Well, the other benefit is successful customer outcomes, first call resolution. The latest one we have with a large Canadian customer, they were able to reduce attrition and they had high attrition. They reduced attrition by 15% just by really giving candidates a better preview of the job and measuring those candidates more effectively. So, there’s many, many benefits.

I think by using AI, you can really align the artificial intelligence with what you’re trying to accomplish, and that’s really an important part. It’s like tailoring, it’s like using ChatGPT or any tool. I’m looking to accomplish this and you can do that by using this kind of process.

Matt: The second part of the question is the implications for recruiters, because I know there’ll be people who are listening, who’ll be concerned for their futures in terms of being replaced by AI. What would your advice be to the recruiters who could be the most directly affected by this?

Stephane: Well, I think historically, if we look at any new technology, there are really two types of outcomes that we’ve seen. People who adopt these types of technologies tend to thrive in organizations, and people who don’t want to adopt, then eventually with time, they’ll have to find new skills and reskill.

I think artificial intelligence does not replace anyone. We’ve seen this historically. We’ve seen this in the industrial age with the advent of machinery and automations that we thought, “That’s it. The human is doomed in reality, there are more industrial jobs there ever before.” And the same thing if we look back into when IBM Watson came out, what was really the first artificial intelligence and people, “That’s it. Again, we’re doomed.” In reality, that technology is now embedded in many products and there are many more jobs.

They’ve been talking about artificial intelligence now in the contact center and forever. And what’s happened in the last 20 years, there are more people employed in this industry requiring more recruiters, more and more skills. So, I think as mankind, we need to adapt to these new technologies, and there are many new opportunities that will develop from a recruiting point of view, if you adopt and copilot all these technologies.

Matt: We’ve been talking in the context of high-volume hiring, and taking out interviews and assessments, those kind of things. What other implications do you think AI might have on recruiting, and HR, and talent acquisition? What else is going to have to change or adapt or be enhanced by the technology that we’re seeing?

Stephane: I think the artificial intelligence affects the whole process from recruiting, from programming. It helps the whole process from CV screening to helping find candidates that are ideal for the job. So, it’s being introduced through the whole pipeline of employment to be able to figure out the skills, find out where those candidates are. Even with our companies using this kind of approach, they’ve figured out that certain skills and sales are better in certain cities in the country. So, you can really dig down into– So, using this kind of technology and otherwise throughout the whole recruiting process, you can really optimize.

The next thing we’re seeing is that really upskilling candidates. That’s the other thing. You can also use this technology to be able to figure out what skills that these candidates don’t have, and either giving them that feedback back to them or hiring them and saying, “There’s only a couple things you don’t have active listening or being able to paraphrase,” and then training them, using that technology again, artificial intelligence to be able to go and train for those skills, which is, we’re seeing more and more in North America, especially with the lack of candidates we’re seeing in the marketplace.

Matt: There’s obviously some particularly around large language models and things like that. There’s some question marks about accuracy, those kind of things. But there’s also a lot of incoming legislation or draft legislation around the use of AI in things like recruiting. Do you think that is going to affect the speed of progress? Do you think that the legislation is going to achieve anything? Where do you stand on this kind of issue?

Stephane: Well, I think it’s mandatory. I think it’s really important to be able to approach hiring in an unbiased way. I think that using it just for artificial intelligent hiring is a bit shallow. I think you need to apply throughout the whole process. Even in humans, there’s unconscious bias. You’ve seen companies who have not stellar reports on how they hire people and what kind of outcomes they get. I think that it should be applied.

We have this thorough review process that happens on a quarterly basis that we constantly review our AI and how well it’s working and in making sure that we don’t have bias creep that introduce into the models. We’re very successful at it. Our toolkit at the moment is completely unbiased, regardless and we work in approximately 40 countries around the world. So, it’s really important that you keep those models and you make sure that you’re doing a good job, giving everyone a fair opportunity.

Using a skills-based assessment does that. You’re not looking at accents, you’re not looking at background. We take no background information on our platform, we’re really looking at your skills, what kind of skills you have.

Matt: So, final question. What would your advice be to TA leaders who are listening, who want to take a deep dive into how recruiting automation and these types of assessments can help them develop their strategies?

Stephane: Yeah. I think you really need to pilot these tools. One of our customers, when we started, they were perfectly happy with the current approach they were using, and they were getting the outcomes until we asked them, “Have you correlated your specific soft skills or metrics to all these assessments?” They looked at us like, we were really speaking a different language.

Once they started digging into it, they didn’t even realize what specific skills that was driving success. That’s something that as a TA leader, you need to start getting information and trying these tools and looking at the kind of information you can gather. If you want to sign a manual process, this will make it very useful to understand exactly what kind of skills your agents need to succeed.

Matt: Stephane, thank you very much for talking to me.

Stephane: Thanks, Matt. It’s been great to be on your show.

Matt: My thanks to Stephane. 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 @recruitingfuture. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Recruiting Future Feast, and 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.
[music]

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