AI hiring staffing solutions

AI is certainly shaking up corporate recruitment. Whether it’s how AI parses resume databases, automatically ranks and prioritizes candidates, or how it even proactively matches resumes on file with relevant job openings through a semantic vetting of worker skills against job requirements. All of that has been underway for some time. But what if AI could help organizations and job seekers alike ditch the resume altogether?

That’s certainly a hope held by Barb Hyman, founder and CEO at Sapia.ai, a company that’s built an AI-powered conversational interviewing platform that helps organizations find and hire talent — Hyman says — in a fair and unbiased way.

After working a handful of careers, including being a lawyer, marketer and human resources professional — Hyman decided it was time for her to help others better develop their careers and help businesses attract and retain the talent they need to succeed. Hyman started her career in law and then went into management consulting after completing her MBA at Melbourne Business School and a law degree at Monash University. Hyman worked as a solicitor for four years, then moved on to the Boston Consulting Group and eventually worked as executive general manager people and culture at REA Group. 

“At BCG and REA Group, I learned that people are not on your balance sheet, but they walk out the door every day. And you’re terrified whether they’re going to come back. And it costs so much to bring people in, develop them, and train them,” says Hyman. “And the process seemed quite inhuman to me. And, from a human resources perspective, it is extremely costly, especially in terms of people’s time.”

Hyman explains that she wanted to fix that and to bring more humanity to the hiring process, especially when it came to fitting the right people with the right jobs and doing so while eliminating the high levels of bias that are common in traditional hiring processes. “I entered into a partnership with a data scientist who had the brains and the experience to figure out how to make better people decisions.”

The result is Sapia.ai and its Smart Interviewer platform. Smart Interviewer is based on a proprietary machine learning system that relies on NLP (natural language processing) to interview and assess candidate’s responses against skills, values and behaviors the hiring entity seeks. After completing the chat interview, leading candidates progress to a video interview. 

Following the chat interview, all candidates receive personalized insights about their personalities, strengths, developmental areas and coaching tips based on their responses.

According to Sapia.ai, scored candidate profiles can be integrated with the employer’s applicant tracking system or HR management software. Hiring teams can review the AI-generated profile transcripts and optionally conduct additional video interviews for shortlisted candidates on Sapia.ai’s platform.

We recently met with Sapia.ai’s CEO to get a sense of why she founded the company and how AI can help both employers and candidates — as well as potentially put an end to the resume. Below is an edited version of our conversation.

Thank you for taking the time with us. Let’s start with how Sapia.ai got started.

People try very hard not to be biased, but most of our biases are not conscious. So, how can we interrupt biases and try to get to better decisions? Fairer decisions? At the same time, create a way of engaging with people, starting with hiring, that was beautiful, empowering, dignifying, and fair. We took two years to build this product. The core product is what we call Chat Interview, and the platform is called Smart Interviewer.

It’s a revolution in hiring. It’s something that’s based on actual science and a dataset that we’ve curated and collected over time. To date, no one has managed to replicate [what we’ve done] because the basis of it comes from data. And while now the whole world understands the value of data [for hiring]. But back then, no one did. 

Our technology helps to identify how well someone will fit. What [hiring companies] care about is who someone is, not what they are or where they’ve been. And once you remove caring about those things, the need for a resume is removed. Let’s face it: Resumes are impossible to devise. They don’t tell the story of who you are. They’re just one piece of the story. It’s what you’ve done and what your credentials are that matter. 

When using resume data, [hiring companies] just feed bias into the hiring process. We wanted to get rid of the resume.

Do you think that’s possible? Getting rid of the resume?

You know, it’s something that the US market, more than any other market in the world, is still very attached to the resume. Whereas elsewhere in the world, they’ve long realized they’re an inferior data point. They risk talent being missed. Particularly in a world where so much of what’s needed is someone’s mindset, attitude and power skills. Are they a learner? Are they someone who can cope in a fast-changing environment? Are they curious? Do they work well with people? Are they good thinkers? You can’t tell that in a resume. 

How does this benefit the job-seeker?

People forget that moving jobs is potentially a big life change. People have choices too. And we’re committed to transparency. And to do so in a way that helps both the [hiring] organization do better and help the people looking for a job to do better. How do you help them make better choices? We give everyone who’s interviewed, using this, an insights profile and coaching. This has had a profound impact. Yes, we’re saving companies lots of money, and we’re improving diversity, but we’re helping elevate the self-awareness of humanity. Because everyone learns from the experience. 

Most people don’t know themselves. And they don’t know what jobs they’d be great for. And they don’t know how to express themselves and communicate that to anyone. Helping people with these challenges has actually had the most powerful impact on our customers’ brands. That’s what’s driving our next stage of innovation: How do we do even more to help people make good choices about their careers?

How does this technology impact how many candidates can be hired?

That’s another thing that’s disruptive about the way we’ve designed this. Normally only a handful of people get interviewed. We say, why not interview every single person, because who knows where great talent resides? There are 2 billion workers in the world. But we only think about interviewing a handful of them. That’s what our technology enables. We sit right at the very beginning of the process. Every single person is interviewed. And they all get feedback. We will finish our interviews within 15 to 20 minutes. Within about 10 minutes, the interviewee gets a profile that explains what we’ve learned about them. That’s just for their eyes.

How does this technology impact how organizations access talent?

I recently read that 30% of American kids end up going to college. Whatever that number is, the fact that someone went to college is an immediate advantage. They’re going to get in front of more hiring managers than someone who didn’t. 

And we all know that getting to college is not about talent. Talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity absolutely isn’t, especially in America. In a world where you’ve got 3.7% unemployment, and that’s not going to get any better. From a hiring perspective, you must be a company that can reach and attract everyone. That includes people who identify with a disability. People who don’t have college. And if you’re relying on resumes, automatically, you’re missing out on a crazy amount of talent.