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The AI Mirage in Hiring: Are Vendors Innovative Solutions or Industry Snake Oil?

March 6, 2024
5 min read
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      5 min read
      Max Armbruster
      Max Armbruster
      CEO Talkpush

      Imagining the ideal candidate journey in 2021

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      Episode 25 full cover
      Traditional recruitment is out, innovative top-notch candidate experiences online are in.
      Recruiting experts from top companies: Vervoe, Probe, Inspiro, and [24] discuss the most efficient and successful ways of leveraging technology to deal with increased volumes while building fully online experiences.

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      Don't feel like listening? You can read the entire transcript right here. 👇

      Now we'll move on to the panel discussion. So I'd like to invite on stage our wonderful panelists.MeAnn Batallones from 24[7}.ai , Hazel Camacho from Inspiro, Jarrod Kagan from Probe and  Omer Molad from Vervoe. 


      Okay. Omar is on. Hi, max. Hi Hazel.


      Max: Perhaps, so a quick introduction for looking at the list. Hazel. If you would please introduce yourself to our audience. We've got 168 people on the line listening to you now under 16.

      Hazel: Wow. I'm just so excited to be here. Max. Thank you so much. And all of you who actually signed up and decided to be with us in the next few minutes. You are really investing on you know, how you would really move forward with your job, hunting up DVDs and all that stuff. So, yes. So my name is Hazel and I work for Inspiro.  It's a BPO company that has over 30,000 customer champions in 35 different locations worldwide. So I take care of a team that takes the lead in bringing at least 20,000 new hires in a year. So that's a pretty, not-so-boring job. I would say, you know, most of the feeding job, I would say, you know, because it's not this job that they're giving, but it's hope, you know, it's worth any nowadays where things are quite often, in short, I would say so.

      Max: True. 20,000 lives changed every year. Anybody jazzed up in the morning. Thank you. Hey, Jarrod welcome.


      Jarrod: Hello. Thanks for having me very excited to be here. Yea,h I think this is a really exciting topic to be discussing because I'd say all businesses, people are the most important. And for us as a business, we were absolutely passionate about our people and. Every time we recruit people into our business. It's just what we say. It's bringing people into the family. So look like the world changes and there are new and exciting ways to recruit people and bring them into our family. I just think it's a really exciting topic and look I am sitting here today, obviously, but we just have an amazing team in everything that we do in all the investments that we've made in terms of the recruitment process and automation. And it really goes down to them. We employ close to 14,000 people now across five different countries, obviously Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, and. Yeah, really excited to be here.

      Max: Thanks, Jarrod. For the listeners who don't know about Probe, can you tell us about the Probe group, the Probe family? Cause I think you've had some additions to the family.

      Jarrod: Yeah. So Probe we've been around actually for 40 years. We started in 1978. Originally our background was more in the credit and collections outsourcing space, but we've grown significantly, especially over the last five to six years. We've invested heavily into the upstream. We call it customer-managed space, but for want of a better word, BPO space that we provide customer service, customer attention, digital automation as process simplification really invested heavily. We've probably grown up probably in the last two and a half years. We acquired a business called cellmate's contact center, which was at the same time as Australia's largest contact center. And then in the Philippines, in the last couple of years, we acquired micro sourcing, which is a managed service operation, providing knowledge process serving and shared services. And another smaller company called Beepo, which employs around 500 people in the Philippines. And most recently. About a month ago, we settled on another business called Stellar, which employed about 6,000 people as well.So taking our total headcount to 14,000 globally.

      Max: Okay. Well I, for one, knew all of those names from before. So, and I did not know Probe until this year, so. I guess yeah. Different types of brand equity in different geographies. 

      Jarrod: World's best-kept secret. Great. Thank you, Jarrod and MeAnn.


      MeAnn: So good afternoon to everyone. And thanks for joining recruitment hackers. I think it is a good two hours that you'll have with all of my co-panelists. And of course the Talkpush team. 24[7].ai has been in the business for 20 years. It's a BPO and technology company, specifically in the Philippines and just during the last seven months of the pandemic. We've shifted our recruitment to a recruit from home model and quite surprisingly towards our road to recovery. We did not just recover, but I think I mentioned to you that we managed to get, I think, four new accounts, even in the midst of a pandemic, something that was unexpected because we thought that we were just going to continue with how we were doing things, but.I think the pandemic pushed us to really make our process a hundred percent virtual, but at the same time, be opportunistic and really be able to tap into other accounts or other clients who were in need of our service. So the last seven months, as you described it earlier, were amazingly painful. And I think I'd like to agree with that. My team has been working from home for the last eight months, all of us. And it has been. Amazing. Yes, but also amazingly painful because of the changes that we needed to do, how we needed to be adaptive and how we of course needed to still continue with the business. Good. Overall it's still so much reason for us to be grateful.


      Max: I'm sure everyone agrees. Omer, did you have a painful year? Tell us about, so a Vervoe. 

      Omer: I personally had a great year because we just had a baby. So  I'm feeling good, no complaints, but thanks, Max. Thanks for having me. So I'm with a company called Vervoe and what we do is we predict job performance.

      We put job candidates in situations that they would normally face on the job and give them an opportunity to showcase their skills by doing tasks. And then, and we do that at scale and we then use machine learning models to automatically grade and rank those candidates. And so we do that for a range of roles and industries from, you know, including call center, customer service, and retail, but also for software developers, sales reps, and designers, and pizza cooks and everything you can imagine. And really we are about testing skills and showing you whether someone can do your specific job at your company or not. And, you know, here on this panel, we partner with Talkpush and we work together on clients like Walmart at very high volume. And we also work with Probe and its group of companies as well. So that's great to be on this panel and look forward to discussing some of these very real issues around, you know, can you automate, and does it need to be human can machines process these sort of things, and you know, very interesting questions to discuss those.Thanks, max for inviting me.

      Max: Yeah pleasure. And I hope you'll get to meet. So some of the panelists in person when traveling is allowed again, I'm sure. It's going to be one of the first trips you get to take. Look forward to it. On one of the first trips I took to the Philippines, I think we have a lot of our audience coming from the Philippines.

      So I'm tilting my presentation a little bit towards that audience. Was that in every recruitment office that I visited? There were these small phone booth setups where people would have the verse saunt assessments where you'd have to walk down and sit in front of an actual touchdown phone. I don't know if those things are still around.I imagine. No, Hazel's saying no. So as this place has been repurposed, are everything all the assessments going on online now? Or are you still have some of this stuff happening in the real world, I guess it's no longer possible, right?


      Hazel: Yeah. Well, if I could you know, shaking my head because well, since the pandemic, so March 15, you know, right after it was announced up until this time we've shifted all of our processes 90% of our processes are now done on the night, you know, from sourcing up the onboarding, you know, so the things that were left  that we do onsite are pretty much the paperwork, you know, like things that you can no longer automate, you know, things that are required by the bank to being on physical copies.Right. But basically, if you would look at the entire talent acquisition cycle, You know, from sourcing to screening, to onboarding, all of those are pretty much done online, you know, in Virginia, because what we first thought of during the time, you know, our safety of our team members, we know that we have to deliver, but we do not want to compromise, you know, the health and safety of other people.So we shifted everyone to work from home setup. Provided them with all the clues, they're not going to DVT, laptop, pocket, wifi, even mobile phone credits. And most importantly, we invested in platforms, you know, because one of the things that we realized is we cannot really do the usual face-to-face setup and therefore you have to introduce a lot of automation, you know so that you can really adapt, you know, to the influx and the urgency to handle earlier, Max was talking about how amazingly painful and you know, I have to be with know, like in our case, would you imagine in a pandemic we've increased our hiring requirement by at least 50%.So it was really crazy. How do you process in a totally different environment with 50% more volume? That is just so crazy. And I'm so happy that our company has invested so much When it comes to automation. Suspension platforms. And with that, you know, modesty aside we've even increased our revenue, you know, by at least 10% compared to last year. So it's pretty amazing because of the uncertainties, I would say we really don't know how it went, but I think we realize, you know, whether there's a pandemic or not , I think the type setup would continue. It would be the new normal, whether we like it or not.


      Max: Let's see if we have a category example, are there some things that are going to go back to the old way, MeAnn?

      MeAnn: Just to piggyback on what Hazel said and your question earlier, I think I'd like to confirm your prediction number two and prediction number three, when you'd said that when you visited offices, Many years in the past, there were cubicles, there were phone screeners. So that's gone today. And I think I'd like to validate that second prediction of yours because a phone screening is no longer done today. And you've asked about whether the space in the office has been repurposed. So that's a definite yes for us because they've now been repurposed to something that's more useful. I think whether they're for onsite accommodation and whether they're for production or whether for training because as mentioned, recruitment is now 100% virtual, a hundred percent work from home. So again, to validate your prediction, number three, many recruiters will not return to the office and that's the reason why the large recruiting spaces will now I think be repurposed for other more relevant needs and objectives. Will there be things that will go back to the old normal? Was that your question, Max?

      Max: Yeah. I was fine then, you know maybe this is a question that Jarrod wants to take or .You know it sounds like it was painful that everything went okay. And everybody met their targets. And so let's just continue. Right. But maybe the biggest price that everybody had to pay was more psychological. One.


      Jarrod: Yes. It's really interesting because from our end I mean, thankfully  we invested in a number of different platforms that enabled us to really deal with this situation before it came. So if this situation had come and we had invested in platforms like Vervoe, We wouldn't have been able to get through because what's the beauty about these types of I guess automated recruitment platforms and especially, I mean, you talk about the way that it can integrate everything from verification screening through platforms like Talkpush. What enabled us to do  is produce a mass number of recruitments and process a mass number of applicants.You know why that we'd never done before. And when you're talking about a C -9 environment where you can't actually. Talk face to face, no matter what, these are the types of things that enabled us to get through. And that we'd invested in before say 19 actually hit, but it's not even just the ability to do it.Actually, it enables you to actually recruit better candidates. So the quality, the way that and I'll keep talking about Vervoe because they're our partner, but the way that it leverages through machine learning and AI to really refine a good candidate looks like into score and continually build that out.It simplifies the process and it actually enables you to recruit not only and process more candidates, but recruit better candidates in line with what you're trying to achieve. So it's just by chance and good fortune that we invested in these types of technologies before C-19 hit. And then the other benefit is it actually allows you to pass the information to the candidates digitally as well, in a way that's better that humans couldn't do either so through videos and there's a consistency. So you can through videos and through messaging and really give these applicants the information that they need, that they weren't able to do.


      You know, through humans, so all through the face to face. So, you know, for us, it was just, as I said, good fortune that we invested in these types of technologies before C-19 hit.

      Max: I imagine that it sounds lovely after the facts, but, but initially you always get a little bit of pushback, right?When you present an automation solution, that's. No, it doesn't matter how good your platform is. It's not going to be as good as a phone call. You must get that a lot, Omer. Right. When people are saying, I don't believe we can automate this piece.


      Omer: Yeah. So, one of the early objections we used to get was candidates won't want to do this. You know, candidates will be scared of this. This won't feel very personal, personalized, or, you know, it'll feel called. And we did a lot of research. We don't hear that as much today because I think it's been proven already, but we did a lot of research, we surveyed all our candidates and we had an enormous amount of data.And what we learned was that there are two things that candidates care about. One is I want an opportunity to prove themselves. I want a genuine chance to apply for the job to put my best foot forward. And the second thing is that if they're not going to get the job, can someone please get back to them very quickly and tell them that's really what they care about.And when candidates say things like, I don't want to be traded, like, you know, I don't want to be automated or I don't want to talk to a machine. What they really say is. I don't want to be unfairly disqualified. There's no candidate that gets a fair opportunity to put their best foot forward for the job that says I don't like technology.They don't care if it's with technology or in the room or whatever, what they care is that they get a chance to apply for the job barely. And if they get that chance and by the way, using technology, they get a much better chance because you can. Process of volume of cat. You're not eliminating guiding those candidates based on their resume or something arbitrary, actually giving them a chance. Technology enables all that to happen in parallel. And you're actually looking at their genuine ability and then subject to interview interviewer bias and all these other things. And so long as they get a chance. And so long as someone gets back to them promptly, and that's a nod back, the new technology.Imagine trying to get back to five or 10 or 20,000 people in a day. There's no recruiter that can do that. And so technology addresses those two points. You've got a fair opportunity to apply for the job, and if you're not going to get the job, we'll tell you very quickly.


      Hazel: Yeah. And Max, yeah. If I could also share my thoughts, you know, on what could be that thing that will go away, you know, if there's any, I guess it would be the denial, you know, that you can do things and alone, you know you can like veer away from doing things digitally at this point.That denial will eventually be gone. No, because what we've seen really, you know, it's the fact that you have to go digital or you, you know, business would be then something to that effect. No, it's digital is the new default as say and what could actually continue, but what we've experienced for the past eight months simply accelerate that, you know, The disruption that we've been seeing for several years on the back of, if you need the automated call and it just calls us, you know, it's better to do things manually.But one thing I've learned from a book that I recently read, it's entitled, future-proofing your career and your company. It says that there are two things, you know, that the world is really changing. And what are these drivers first would be the market, right? Whether we like it or not, you have the millennials and the gen Z's storming the workplace.So how do you adapt to this labor force? And as we know, these younger generations are very tech, heavy. They want things done fast. They want things very accessible anywhere, anyhow, anytime. And that can be addressed by automation that can be addressed by digital, right. And then the other one would be, you know, the changing business landscape. According to this book that I've read, there's also something that is changing, you know, the relationship between employee employers and all that stuff. So how do you copy the nights of people and we're located in different regions, different countries, for instance? Right? So if we continue to do things face to face, Then there are certain limitations, geographic because not everyone can travel at the workplace, right? Or your recruitment hub, but with people waiting to work for you, but they're in another country or in another province, as long as you can reach them via the internet, you know, they can do their stuff from home. Then you have an access

      Max: You mean to hire people outside the Philippines that you would normally domestically

      Hazel: Yes actually. We've been doing a lot of work from home set up nowadays. Obviously, we have to continue on, we have never ceased operations since the pandemic. And it's good to say that our employees are pretty much adjusting to the new norm. Obviously, you know, we need to provide a holistic approach to them, not just in terms of technology, but also on  a lot of things did this non or HR services while they are done through automation, just to make it a point that there's a human factor in it because one thing that would probably need to be emphasized  this is the time where we really need to be more human now than ever, you know, because of the social distancing, right.People are now more young ING, you know for the worm. No. And the usual feeling of talking to someone. So I guess that's why some people are not comfortable talking to chatbots, right? Because the chatbot is not engaging enough, they'll be able to still, you know, relate to a candidate or to an appetite.So those are things that are really interesting.

      Max: You need a good design, good UX. And to be on the lookout for that anybody who's on this conference call and this virtual conference should at least try to apply for a job at their own company and be ready to give feedback because you can never test your system enough, I think, and build more empathy into it. So I want to ask about some practical tips from people here. I have two questions on my mind, the one which is on a higher note, which is how has the town pool changed in 2020? You know, is it expanding?

      Is it better as a difference, but before that a practical tip for our audience who wants to automate, they want to do more with less. They probably have. You know, less headcount, more volume. We talked about eliminating the initial phone screening as a potential, you know, very time-consuming step in the recruitment process that could be eliminated. What else? What are some of the other things that we can knock off to lighten the load? Are there some things that are a little bit a thing of the past that we can just take off from their to-do list? It's a big question. And I'm happy to take the answers from anyone. Jarrod. I think I think you're about to say something.


      Jarrod: Look, I mean, yeah it is a very big question. I think, from our perspective, we focus on what we are. absolutely. If there's something that can make a process better, you need to do it. But look for us, the path was to invest in partners. And so businesses like Talkpush and Vervoe. They're the experts in this. And what I would say is getting. Together with all key stakeholders, which would be operations, recruitment, HR training, and trying to understand what are the things, what are the pain points and what can you do to really improve them and then reach out to the experts.I mean, you know, you can sit down and you can talk with your partners about what your vision is, what your values are, and how they can help. And, you know, true partnering can deliver those types of things. What we've also been able to do internally is obviously we have divisions that are, you know, RPA and machine learning and simplification automation. So we've done with them if we've been able to, as an example, take certain repeatable processes and be able to automate them ourselves so they can then help supplement those, the partners that can, that you can bring to the table for the recruitment process. I think powerful is that a lot of people look and think, Oh, well, if you have a range of different applications and software and you bolt them all together, it can get quite clunky. But the way with cloud-based technology and open API is you can really make the best of everything and build something together that just builds this unbelievable seamless experience that delivers great candidate experience, great quality candidates, the ability to pass great information from your business to them and really deliver an amazing experience. So I'd probably say that's something to look at as well.


      Omer: Can I jump in? So I agree with everything Jarrod said, and I want to add to that and maybe offer a different lens to look through, which is most people, what they ask is what can I use technology for? But I would look at it in the opposite way because technology can do everything.Technology can do, and definitely in recruitment technology can do everything. So just, let's just assume that technology can do anything you want. The real question is what's the best way for you to spend your time as a human being. Right? So just like today, we don't use typewriters because that's not an efficient thing to do there are better ways to do it. You've got to ask yourself, is it a good use of your time to write a rejection email to every candidate? Probably not, but in some cases, you might want to call the candidate yourself. And so you should do that. And so I think what recruiters should be asking is what is a good use of my time? Is it people analytics? Is it attracting talent and doing candidate attraction and employer branding? Is it selection? Is it executive recruitment? And for the things that I'm not a good use of your time? Well, technology can do all of those things. It can do all the rest because there is literally no limit now and you couldn't say this five years ago, what's possible today is fundamentally different from what was possible five, even two even 18 months ago.And if people had that recognition that. So much is possible. And I started thinking about how to use that time more efficiently. I think more companies would get that balance right between I would stop stressing about, you know what's going to be automated. And he's my job at risk.His job is not at risk. There are so many things recruiters can and should be doing. And so many other things that technology can help them with to make their job easier.


      Max: So I found out about Omer’s company, Vervoe from one of my customer success managers in Costa Rica who told me this platform is awesome. And here we are. No talking. And where it is in Australia, where the technology is very small. It connects fast and good products. They'll come to you.If you ask for permission, you will find it's out there.So we've only got a couple of minutes left, perhaps. MeAnn. Tell us about your talent pool. Has evolved in 2020, are you hiring the same people this year that you did last year or did this pandemic change the composition of your team?

      MeAnn: You know what, since we, the operations never ceased for us, just like, I think the rest of the BPO companies, we thought that we were just going to be, you know, hiring the usual talent, but quite surprisingly, and this is feedback actually from my country, head and operations and training were that.Quality was never compromised. I think quality for recruitment is always a challenge, you know, from time to time, especially whenever hiring requirements are very high, but quite surprisingly and. Amazing. Actually, we've never had any quality call-outs or performance call-outs, which is actually very good. So I think that talent is, yeah, the talent landscape is changing such that they're adapting. Because the process now is a hundred percent virtual, so they need to be adapting. You know, I always get around and say that internet speed, I think, is going to be the new communication skills. So back many years ago, when we started the PO, we were very particular of course, with communication skills today, I think.Profile should include already, also mentioned that digital is the new default. So I agree. And I think based on our experience, based on our observation,  all enough to remember.

      Max: You have to pick your typing skills, typing speed on your resume.


      MeAnn: Yeah. It's changing for us, at least for hires that we've had, they've changed for the better, which is actually good for us.

      Max: So from the firefighters speed now to internet speed, that's the new way to evaluate town. We could go on forever. Thank you for sharing your experiences in a traumatic year, you'll get an opportunity to share them with some more people.Because what we're going to do now is I'm going to move us to the networking section, which means we're going to click on the left-hand side. There's a little networking tab here. And then if my memory serves me, right, the moments are in there. You're in the hands of God, you know, you don't know whom you're going to speak to next.


      And it's just moving from one to the next.  It's like a speed dating thing. So I know Omer told me before the call that he's married, he doesn't want to hit it. He doesn't want to play, but that's obviously keeping things professional and we're going to have fun and take the opportunity to learn about the audience that we invited here. And find out about, you know, get a bit of that real-world feeling that we all miss so much from the pre-COVID times. And then when we're done with that, we'll have another panel discussion and that'll be back on the main stage. 


      Thank you. Thank you, guys. Thanks, everyone.

      Episode 49 quote 


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