Paradox – Unlocking Conversational AI And Video For Hiring With Adam Godson

Adam Godson, Paradox

On today’s show, we have Adam Godson here from Paradox. Adam and I have done a podcast or three in the past, but today he’s here to talk about Conversational AI and video.

Paradox has implemented some new features centered around including a video experience within their product Olivia.

Listening time: 29 minutes


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William 0:33
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to RecruitingDaily’s podcast. Listen, we’ve, we’ve got Adam Godson on from Paradox, and Adam and I’ve done a podcast or three. Today we’re gonna be talking about conversational AI and video they’ve Paradox has some new things going on with video. And so we’re gonna, this is gonna seem kind of familiar because he and I like talking about stuff like this. So without any further ado, Adam, would you introduce both yourself and Paradox to the audience?

Adam 1:07
Hey, William, yeah, absolutely, I will and great, great to be with you. It’s always good to have a great conversation. So that’s why I keep coming back. To do that. Appreciate your thoughtful questions and the conversation. Many people will know Paradox from our conversational AI assistant, Olivia. Olivia helps simplify recruiting work through conversational AI and helps companies get recruiting work done. And here, you know, hopefully, gonna talk some about some new skills that Olivia has in video and also pressing on some interesting questions about how companies will use that and what impact it will have on their practices.

William 1:45
Well, let’s, let’s jump right into that. So you’re reading the press release around video, I wanna, I wanna, let’s give the audience just kind of a backdrop. If they’ve, obviously they’re familiar with Olivia. But even if they’re not, let’s start with that. But also, how do these new features center around video? How does it integrate? Or how does it play a part of the strategy of using conversational AI?

Adam 2:09
Yeah, it’s interesting. We, we definitely did not set out to think, we want to build video interviewing technology. Moreover, we looked at our tech and said, Where can video enhance places people are already having a conversation with Olivia, in some way or another? So give you a couple of examples. There are just times were a video is worth a lot of words. I don’t know if it’s 1000. But many. So one of those is when it when a candidate asks Olivia a question, tell me about the culture of the engineering team. And Olivia, previously could answer with a paragraph of text and maybe a link or something like that to give someone closer to an answer. Now, Olivia can give a short answer, but then also a video to watch. And let me show you what this is like. And let me give you a richer experience in giving the candidate the content that they want, it pops out in a nice modal on the screen, and a person can look right there, then continue in the conversation, ask more questions wherever they want. The second area. The second area is really the opposite, where we find a lot of candidates talking to Olivia from a screening perspective. And Olivia asked some questions that are basic qualifications for the job. Are you 18? Do you have this certification? Can you work these hours? And they want to ask one or two questions to see how the candidate communicates. And in the past that’s often been done via text. Tell me about a time you helped a customer at work. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond? What would a co-worker say about you, and video’s just richer. And it’s just a better way to understand let someone can communicate. So in that context, instead of asking that question, in a in a text-based response that can now be video. And it’s really important for us to be able to have that be seamless video where it’s as simple as on your phone without downloading an app without doing anything crazy. You just jump right into the video experience. We’re able to quickly record that and then exit the conversation and return to the chat and be able to have that be really seamless but a way that’s richer for both sides.

William 4:18
So for those listening at home or taking score. This is both ways. It’s a response. It’s a video it can be a video response from Olivia. And it’s also can be a video capture from Olivia – Olivia as well.

Adam 4:34
Yeah, that’s right. And just one more piece on that too is really the live video aspect as well. And so in terms of interview scheduling, further down the process, oftentimes when there’s going to be an interview scheduled, we did two things with that. These are really COVID driven to many extent as you can imagine, is we are able to integrate with really anything out there, Zoom, Teams, Skype, WebEx. Those types of things, the tools people are already familiar with. So if you’re scheduling an interview, that is seven parts long, we send Zoom links, everyone’s done that right in the right session of that interview. But also wanted to solve for the use case where people don’t have those. And so if you work at a McDonald’s or Wendy’s or somewhere like that, you don’t have those tools, you can just hit a button and immediately have a FaceTime-like experience with a candidate and be able to do that as well. So both those things are also in our video release.

William 5:28
So I think the audience will understand the video capture, and basically doing the same thing that Olivia does on the back end with conversational text, and just translating the audio into text and, and then being able to parse that and analyze that and do something with the video from Olivia, Olivia. What does that look like?

Adam 5:51
Sure. It really is Olivia giving content to a that often pre-exists to a candidate, right? So but so if it’s a video about the culture or about their office in this location, or whatever that happens to be being able to understand the context of the users asks the question, it’s actually a lot of work to do this on the back end, to be honest.

William 6:14
I know, this sounds easy.

Adam 6:16
Yeah. And then to be able to get them the right video, just like we get them the right response, via text, but give them the right video that can enrich that, again, well-done video is just, it’s just how we communicate and 2021. Right, and I press release like if you watch young people do anything, it’s video. And it’s just, it’s continuing to be more and more part of our world. And it needs to be more a part of how we communicate in recruiting.

William 6:42
So So is it a video overlay of images? Or is it a — or I guess this could be client-to-client interaction – interaction? Right, so but is it? Is it a – Is it a person? is Olivia rendered as a Siri as a person? Alexa as a person? Is Olivia –

Adam 7:01
Good question. Yeah, she doesn’t render as a person she is given the response in line, and then she’s able to, depending on a configuration, send a video that can then play right there in line on their website or on a phone. The key part is just keeping the user in their same context where they are, so that when they’re done, they can, they can continue the conversation and get work done. Rather than get linked off to YouTube and get lost in recommended videos.

William 7:28
Well, it’s still like it’s, it’s, it’s still in the chat. It’s still in the text. It’s just like, hey, if you’d like to watch a video about this click thing, then they’ve got something and they’re still again, they’re still within that, they’re not off lost somewhere else. So I love that experience. Get, let’s go back to the live video for just a second. Does, does Olivia outside of the scheduling part. And getting everybody in the right place at the right time using the right technology? Does Olivia? analyze conversationally, what’s going on there?

Adam 8:02
She does not. We decided to stay away from some of the conversation. What might be the controversial elements that in this and so we what we really want to facilitate is we want people to make decisions about what about conversations and, and be able to watch videos and understand what that looks like, rather than going too deep there.

William 8:25
Yeah, that’s better. I mean, it’s a better candidate experience. And then people don’t get freaked out about Big Brother or any of that type of stuff. There’s probably some rich data there just between us. There’s probably some really interesting things there to analyze. But I totally respect why you wouldn’t. I want to ask. Okay, so now that we’ve kind of gone through kind of some of the updates, the difference in what you’re seeing with your hourly clients versus your non-hourly or corporate clients?

Adam 8:55
Sure, well, the pandemic has brought on a lot of changes about how companies operate. And I think one of the interesting things and we’ve hidden out of this stuff in some of the past is these companies are looking at the interview process and looking to understand one of the parts there that really drive value, and what parts are worth it and what is worth it. And we’ve seen some companies go to prophecies that no longer include an in-person interview, or even a live experience interview, it simply includes information, sharing it, often time this video recorded video to understand a person’s communication style. And then a decision is simply made based on those things to move forward. And so getting rid of some of that part of the process and I think the crux there is company just starting to break down some calculus to really think through those steps, how much value they add, needs to be the turnover they might otherwise have and starting to do some some math frankly, on whether it’s worth it.

William 10:01
Right. Well it’s time, money, and energy on all fronts, right? The recruiter, the sourcer, the hiring manager, the candidate, etc. And if we’re if especially in a higher in an hourly, you know, the scenario, we’re probably trying to evaluate, do they have the skills and interest? And so maybe, maybe in conversationally, maybe we don’t have to involve everybody’s time to just figure out, do they have, you know, on both sides? Do they have the skills and interest to do the job? And if they do great, they don’t and move on to the next thing?

Adam 10:37
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s really around a few different things right? On one side, organizations typically aren’t great at interviewing. So if you think about the training that happens, and most people do unstructured interviews, and we’ve known as a discipline for 40 years that unstructured interviews aren’t particularly effective, you know, they’ve got an R squared value of, of explanatory value of and biased, point two to point three, right, in their bias, right. And so we know that this is a great way to do things. And so the question that is, you know, can we structure that and fix it? Boy, there are some people that have died trying to do that? Or do we take a different route and just decide that, you know, maybe we can get as much information as we can to make a decision. But we don’t have to do an unstructured interview to make this decision, and that the speed benefits, the anti-bias benefits, other benefits are actually just as strong as that for the jobs that we have. Of course, that varies incredibly widely, what type of hiring that you do, but I think there’s more companies, they’re starting to make some decisions around that.

William 11:44
How do they – How do they make the decision? Because it sounds I mean, first of all, it sounds logical to me. Just when you started, your first sentence was, we’re not great at hiring, or we’re not great at interviewing. Full stop. And neither are candidates. Like no candidate will kind of is, you know, no candidate wants to be an expert in interviewing. So like, okay, so that makes sense. So interviewing is inefficient on both sides. But I could also see people, if for no other reason, this is this has been the way that they’ve done it. So absolutely. How do they bridge that and then, you know, with your clients? How do they bridge that gap? How do they make the first leap over to like, you know what? Maybe try it with a position and try with a trial? Pilot a couple of different things like how do you get them over the emotional or intellectual hump?

Adam 12:35
Yeah, I think that’s a great question because it is a lot of change management. You know, something we’ve believed in or society certainly believes in culturally, it’s a thing, right? for so long, how do we just stop doing that and not have the negative reaction of? Well, that means we just hire anyone. We’ve seen a few different methods, one of those is going heavy with an assessment approach to say the assessment is now going to help us really understand what this looks like. from from from that perspective. The second is being able to simulate that experience through using video or other rich media that helped to capture that. It was interesting in some password that I did, we use some recorded video and the average number of questions that were asked was seven, the average number of questions a hiring manager washed was 1.7. It wasn’t that the managers were lengthy per se, they just didn’t care about the answer, because we’re asking the wrong question. What the manager really wanted to know was, can this person communicate effectively? So the question that the whatever the seven questions were, I’m sure people spent a lot of time and effort into thinking of those Tell me about a project or whatever that is. But what the manager was actually watching for was, is this person an effective communicator on this video in 30, to 90 seconds, and that’s all I need to know. And so it really just is changing the way that people think about those, those interactions about what we’re really trying to understand. When we put an obstacle in front of a candidate. That was similar to some work we did with one of our quick-service restaurant clients, what around job applications? We learned, what are the three or four things that people look at when they review job applications in order to invite someone for an interview? They want to know, can you work these hours? Can you do you have this basic qualification? And maybe a couple of other things. And so we have Olivia ask those questions, schedule the interview, while they also fill out the application in a parallel step. And we save all that time. And so some of it is just distilling down. What are we actually trying to get out of this step of the process and then being able to communicate that to the hiring manager community to adopt that change?

William 14:57
What I love about that as you strip it down to its most effective, most essential, which is what we should be doing, you know, in theory, all across hiring, right? So you take the job description instead of the 22 bullet points, what are the four things? What are the 5-10 things, whatever. So we should be doing that, but what I love about what you’re doing, especially in that scenario, it’s like, Listen, you need him to upload a resume or fill out an application form. So there’s a compliance issue that needs to be taken care of at the same time. There’s some basic questions that, you know, all people that hire for this position are going to ask, and there’s probably some questions that candidates are also asking, or want to have information around, too. So it’s, you know, it’s both sides, right. So right now we’re thinking about the employer side, we’re also thinking simultaneously about that candidate experience. And we want them to have a good experience with us whether or not they get the app, get the interview, or get the job or not.

Adam 15:54
That’s, that’s super interesting. And you’re and boiling that down to this is just this is exchange of information on both sides, right? And so on, we’ve just not done that well with candidates. And one of the things that we’ve realized is that for candidates for hourly roles, the research does, isn’t always upfront, it isn’t often upfront, it is just and part of that is because companies have treated them poorly, they never hear back, those kinds of things. They don’t necessarily invest all the investigation. The research happens at the point of interview. And so when they get to the point of interview, then they want to know, okay, is this something I’m highly interested in doing? What’s this company about? What should I know those kinds of things and so we are able to adjust communication to push out interview guides and things like that to candidates to get them the information that they want when they want it. And help them with their part of understanding what this information exchange is like.

William 16:49
Well and a part of the future of video with Olivia there might be for some clients might be virtual tryouts, you know virtual experiences, where they can see themselves in the job. And again, that’s a great filter for whether or not they want to pursue the job or not. So so you can kinda see video with it being there. Yes, couple of probative questions, get a little bit of information about him and say, Hey, would you like to see what the job is about? showing the video, etc. That’s just another way to kind of get and gather interest and screen in and screen out.

Adam 17:25
Absolutely, absolutely. And let people self-select, and anyone that hires hourly right now especially knows there’s a pretty strong dialogue around ghosting and no show rates right and those are two things that are really driven by understanding the job and sort of its around how job words help us mass apply the things to but so understanding the job and the ability to reschedule. Oddly enough. So Olivia as she sends reminders and contents content to people as she can reschedule those we see significantly show or lower no show rates so often people no show because they just don’t have a mechanism or know how to reschedule that.

William 18:09
Yeah, I’ve got to email somebody, then there’s this other thing, and it becomes a full thing that it’s just too easy to go – you know what done. Just out. But if Olivia’s there to then guide them like a concierge through that process of like you know what? You don’t have to necessarily go so you can just reschedule like you would a dentist appointment or something else. A couple questions so so now that you’ve you know already made these amazing strides with video that you know what people are going to wonder is Where do you want to take video? Near term – not flying car stuff. But just near term? Where do you want to take video with Olivia?

Adam 18:51
Yeah, it’s interesting. We think we continue to think through the original lens in many ways around every piece of the product that we release, how can video help us in that part of the product? And so it’s it’s literally not even like a quote product for us. It’s just part of all of our products just like chat is, just like the rest of our product. So it continues to just enhance. And so we’ll we’ll ask that question every time the how does video How can video make this part better for the candidate better for the manager? One of the ways specifically that we’re working on that now is around personalization. So how do we better, through a conversation, understand who someone is, understand what type of content they might like, and then be able to serve them that content. Content being could be a link to something, could be an image, could be text, but also be video? How do we we continue to personalize?

William 19:49
I love that. I know people are gonna ask this question of me probably later after the podcast goes live is what are we learning from conversational AI? I mean, it’s new-ish, right? And some, some do it different than others. But – But you all have had a strong stance on this. When you look across the organization and across all the different implementations, what do you feel like we’re learning about conversational AI?

Adam 20:19

William 20:21
Where do you want to start?

Adam 20:23
I’ll give you a couple of nuggets. So one of those is we learned the importance of speed. We learned the importance of taking the hourly market, getting candidates to the next step. So being able to schedule their interview as fast as possible, being able to get things done, how much that matters to downstream conversions. We also learned how much media matters to speed. I was with one of our clients the other day, and their average time to schedule an interview via text was 68 seconds. The average time to email was nine hours. Same process, just different medium. And so we know the medium matters. And we know that speed matters. And so therefore, the media matters also. And we also learned that, that people, there’s a psychological effect where people hang on to conversations longer. And they like the experience better than completing web forms. And so there is there’s something in us about how we exchange with people, and how we interact in a conversation that’s different. And so we see even in the from client to client, we see, when you do the same interaction via conversational AI, the same field asked in a form the conversational AI gets a significantly better completion rate and a higher satisfaction rate. And so there are elements of that, that are subconscious for us. But there are things that that really matter, in terms of how we drive people through that process.

William 22:02
What I what I love about it is it’s easier for candidates because it’s it’s how they work. It’s how they already are interacting with technology. So we’re not trying to get them to use technology in a way that you know, is foreign to them. We’re just basically saying, Hey, have chat. Text was something you’re already in, especially consumerization of with Siri and Alexa and things like that we’re accustomed to asking robots about stuff. So it’s not like this is foreign. I could see recruiters and hiring managers liking Olivia. Because again, for those completion rates for speed for wayfinding, for scheduling and rescheduling for all of the efficiency. While all that’s said, Where do you have the biggest challenges? Not specifically with people, but where? Jimmy. It’s Jimmy. No, where do you have the biggest challenges challenge with change management? Is it with the candidates? Or is it with the corporate clients that you interact with? And kind of getting them over the hump? Or is it a little bit of both?

Adam 23:16
It not candidates. Candidates get it. Right, candidates understand, they can ask and the interactions there are natural. And so that is not typically the issue it’s typically looking at in a corporate environment. How do we manage the change of doing this in a different way? But I do think you know, the persona base of Olivia having it be conversational even helps with that aspect. So about who is doing the work. So many of our clients use Olivia for automation of complex interview scheduling or to assist coordinators of complex interview scheduling. Some of those gnarly seven-part interviews that go over two days and you know, those stack panel. And so, but it’s easier for that team to say, well, who’s doing this next step and people say, well, Olivia does the next step, rather than that’s automated. So even having that persona there helps it become understandable in that, in that process and be able to be a hiring manager and get them the updates from Olivia then just reply to an email saying hey, I actually need to reschedule and having Olivia take care of that. So there’s still change management in all those things that you don’t call, you email and those kinds of things. But even then the persona-based conversational AI helps.

William 24:47
Love that. Last question. I want to get your take on, you know, clients are asking you prospects. They’re asking you you’re talking to you about diversity and inclusion, equity, belonging, equality, etc. How much of that, you know, a robot doesn’t necessarily have the same recruiting bias or that we’ve had historically. But what’s their take on you know, not just Olivia but just conversational AI and D&I?

Adam 25:19
Yeah, it’s really interesting. And, and there’s a big, ethical legal conversation to be had there too, where I was actually talking to a client the other day about this about the screening step. And you know, if we, specifically we’re gonna do name redaction in this step, and my point was, actually we don’t, because Olivia doesn’t understand any context around someone’s being named being Muhammad or Joe or Sally. Has no idea what any of those things could subconsciously mean to to someone. Olivia simply looks at the qualifications of those individuals and makes them all, all the same. It’s an interesting ethical question where for us to change that, we would actually have to put in some bias and have it be positive, then of course, with the things you do, but there’s a lot of questions about do you really want to be unbiased? Or do you want to be biased in a certain way? Thinking through what that, what that looks like? And what all the implications down- downstream are? And, and, you know, I could probably talk for hours over a beer on that. But –

William 26:25
There’s no, there’s no, there are no great answers. Because, again, robots naturally don’t have that bias. Gender bias, if you will, now, do we add gender bias to it? And again, the pros and cons I can I, you know, I’m sure there are arguments for both sides of that. But I was just wondering if your clients or if it’s, if it’s raised, in their minds, if it’s coming up in conversations, whether or not it’s answered yet, or

Adam 26:54
Yeah, you know, more recently, I mean, everyone’s thinking about DEI these days, right? And it’s certainly that screening context where we’re in a good shape, because Olivia doesn’t have, you know, she can’t be biased. And that in that case, one other thing that’s come up that we did last year, though, was around the assistant persona itself. In that, should Olivia be a woman? And so we, for some time, been able to have Olivia be non-gendered, or male or any type of persona someone might choose. One thing we added was the ability to do that in different areas, based on preference. And so someone can be a recruiting team, so you can have it be Olivia, one day, or Olivia can be in this market in the US. And it could be Pierre in France, and it can be as Joe in Canada, however, that wanted to look for you. And so being able to, you know, take, take that from a geotargeted perspective, particularly if there are companies that had certain initiatives and want to meet different goals in certain markets being able to have the –

William 26:59
Just the flexibility –

Adam 28:03
Flexibility there in terms of what the assistant persona is, as well.

William 28:06
I like that. I like that again, you know, you wouldn’t think that people would care. But but but maybe people do. I love the idea that you give the ultimate flexibility to the client. Listen, we’ve run out of time, and I knew it would happen. I knew it would be quick, but I love that y’all have extended video into what you’re doing both to work in all the different directions that you’ve extended it. I love it. And I love talking with you. So, so thanks again for carving out time for us and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast.

Adam 28:40
Yeah, thank you. I appreciate you having me on and great conversation as always.

William 28:43
Thanks, Adam.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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