Storytelling about GoodHire with Mike Grossman

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 185. This week we have Mike Grossman from GoodHire about the business case or use case analysis on why his customers and clients become a part of the GoodHire family.


Thanks, William

Show length: 35 minutes

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Mike Grossman
CEO GoodHire

Mike brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience to Inflection. He has been CEO of a diverse set of innovative, VC-funded software companies, including LiveCapital, Tempo, Attributor, SugarSync, and Zetta, all of which were ultimately acquired. Mike’s experience in large companies includes leadership positions at Intuit and Johnson & Johnson, and board roles at Borders and Quicken. He started his career as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in San Francisco and Sydney. Mike holds an A.B. in Economics and a J.D. from Harvard University. He is passionate about his family, his cats (5 at present), international travel, Game of Thrones, tennis, creative writing (when time permits), and quiet irreverence.


Music:      Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast. A show dedicated to the storytelling that happens. Or should happen. When practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup:      Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup. And you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Mike on from GoodHire. And we’re going to be learning about the business case or Use Case for cost benefit analysis. For why his customers and clients become a part of the GoodHire family. So without any further ado, Mike, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and GoodHire?

Mike Grossman:      My pleasure. Thanks a lot, William for having me on the podcast. I’m Mike Grossman. I’m talking to you right now from Palo Alto, California. GoodHire is an innovative background screening company. And we’re trying to really transform the way that both employers as well as job candidates experience background checking.

William Tincup:      I love that. Well, it’s timely because it’s a category that just needs innovation. It’s an older category kind of like ATS, kind of like time and attendance. It’s a category that’s been around for a while. And it hasn’t been as, I don’t know, as innovative as probably a lot of other smaller recruiting categories. So, let’s walk into that. What are you innovating? What’s new and unique, and interesting about GoodHire?

Mike Grossman:      I’d highlight a few things. The first is that historically, I think that background checking companies were always narrow mindedly focused on the employers that paid them.

William Tincup:      Yes.

Mike Grossman:      And I get that, but we’re taking a different approach. We also spend a lot of time thinking about the job candidates, and what their experience is. And how to provide context in the event that something shows up on a background check. And we’re generally providing an easy and empathetic experience for the job candidates. So, that’s one key.

William Tincup:      That’s a huge key. That’s a huge differentiator because in all of my time in HR tech, 25 years. Rarely has the candidate come up as… But it’s something that’s the genesis of the origin of a lot of the historic screening companies came out of investigations or private investigations, stuff like that. So it came from a, I don’t know, not necessarily a position of let’s care about both parties.

Mike Grossman:      I think that’s right. I think the other thing that happened is that because of the history of where companies have come from. There are a lot of service companies in this space that over time started building technology. But I don’t think that many people would describe them as really modern technology.

William Tincup:      Oh, a 100%.

Mike Grossman:      And we are. We were founded in Silicon valley. Definitely think of ourselves as a modern technology company. Applying what we do in the background checking space. And then I think the third piece is, we’ve really tried hard and continuously improving at making the overall experience as easy and delightful as possible. So, every aspect of it from the moment somebody has a question about the service or about background checking to when they start using it, to when they have questions. The goal is, make it as easy and intuitive, and as rapid, and accurate, and experience as possible. And all of that’s enabled by modern technology to a significant extent.

William Tincup:      I love that. And when you mean talking about modern technology, we’re talking SaaS I would assume.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. I mean, it is a transactional type of model. So, charges people as companies order background checks. But it’s effectively a software as a service type of approach. It’s all online either on a desktop, or a laptop, or mobile.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      And-

William Tincup:      But you’re absolutely, I mean, it’s my take as well that a lot of these companies that are kind of the behemoths in the industries didn’t start as tech companies. They started as services companies. And if you’d actually seen how background checks were done, you’d be amazed at how much people, and hours, and stuff was involved. And it wasn’t tech. And you all started as a tech company and then you’re applying and I love that. And it’s interesting to think about background as a word and screening as a word. Historically, kind of have negative connotations.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      Like for the candidate. For the candidate they see backgrounds like, okay, all the things that I’ve done wrong. And in screening is not screening. Normally, screening in it’s screening out. And so the candidate doesn’t have the warm and fuzzes when we say background screen. So it’s like, how do we get the candidate kind of emotionally or intellectually? How do we move them over to like, this is a good thing not a bad thing.

Mike Grossman:      One is to make the process as easy as possible. And make it as little time consuming as possible. The second is in the event that something shows up, it’s providing an opportunity for them to give some context and explain what happened. And that’s one of the key features we have. It’s called comments for context. So folks can explain what the backstory is. And then third, it’s being very thoughtful about what information is shared. We’re very careful from a regulatory perspective to not overshare information.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      And share the information that’s legally compliant, regulatory compliant with a great emphasis on accuracy of data as well. So it’s all these different element combined. But the combination is that, what we find is that the job candidates that use GoodHire have extremely high satisfaction with the service.

William Tincup:      Oh, I love that. Where in the funnel do you suggest practitioners put? For those that… Not every job, maybe every job does need background. Should have thinked about that before I said it. Maybe every job does need a background screen. If so, where in the funnel should practitioners, recruiting town acquisition professionals. Where should they put the screen?

Mike Grossman:      I think it’s typically after they know that they want to make an offer. So it’s well into the process, but I think it is a vital part. Because you want to make sure that you’re building trust.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      And maintaining safety. And so who you hire is a really important issue. And what companies, job candidates join is a really important issue. And so you want to make sure all of that’s thought through and vetted carefully.

William Tincup:      Yeah and I can see people listening to the podcast. I can see them also thinking about, well, if I’m hiring truckers, or forklift operators, or something dealing with a lot of safety related issues. I’ll put it further out in the process just to basically have candidates. So to whittle it down to people that I know. Okay we can. That’s checked off. But I like your approach for a lot of the positions. Like, okay, you’ve done all this. You’ve gotten to this place. Now, you just need to verify and make sure that there’s nothing there that would be problematic down the road.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. The one other thing that I neglected to mention is we’ve really focused on small businesses’ as customers.

William Tincup:      Oh, cool.

Mike Grossman:      And there are millions of them. So in this space, historically companies have tended to focus on just really large companies.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      And then they’ve tried to come down market.

William Tincup:      Oh, that never works.

Mike Grossman:      Exactly. [crosstalk 00:      08:      49] We’ve gone the exact opposite way. We started actually with the smallest companies and then we gradually have been moving up to larger companies.

William Tincup:      Well, if you’re… And you know a lot of that where you have success with that. And I’m sure where y’all had success is where your customers pull you up.

Mike Grossman:      Yes.

William Tincup:      So your customers go through some growth and they’re like… But you knew Moen, they had 20 employees and it was a different bit.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah, exactly.

William Tincup:      What’s your take and what’s the current philosophy of folks that your customers and prospects around second chance or fair chance opportunities. So like, I was talking to a guy the other day. And we were talking about first time felons or something like that. And he was like, “William, there’s like 70 million.” I’m like, “Well, there’s only 330 million in the US, maybe 331 by now. That’s a big number. I mean, first of all, I need to verify that. That’s a big number. I can get it if you want to. Again, it’s job to job. Totally understand. And I can totally understand that you’re going to want to screen out people and certain felonies. Like got it. State didn’t cover, but there’s a bunch of felonies that you might not want to screen out for. Do you have customers or prospects that you’ve talked to them and kind of walk them through that?

Mike Grossman:      Yeah, we have. We make it possible for folks to define the parameters of what types of felonies are problematic and which ones are less problematic.

William Tincup:      Oh, that’s cool.

Mike Grossman:      We’re definitely big advocates for second chance, and fair chance, and ban the box. I think generally our company tries to behave in a very empathetic way.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      It’s the way we think about the mission of the company. And so, when we work with companies, it’s something that we definitely reinforce and provide that flexibility. So it’s not a one size fits all solution.

William Tincup:      Well, I love that on a number of levels. And it’s also, as you said earlier, I think it’s comments for context.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      It allows the candidate to say, “I made a mistake.” Here at this point in my life made a mistake. And here’s the context.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. Exactly.

William Tincup:      And again, who hasn’t made mistakes? I love that ability because before, you and I lived in a world where it was literally a box. If you’ve been a convicted felon, you checked the box. And if you didn’t there was going to be a problem later down the road. But if you clicked it by and large, most recruiters that was a filter out.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah, that’s true. But, I think to some extent the world is changing.

William Tincup:      Yep.

Mike Grossman:      And changing it from this perspective in a good way.

William Tincup:      In a good way. And in a good way because what I like about this version of where we are, is people are also looking at this untapped talent.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      And they’re thinking about it in the right way. They’re thinking about, well, if you wait a minute there’s 70 million people here. Some of which have the skills or the potentiality, maybe even some of the experience. We could train certain people and they’re like, this is an untapped talent market. So I do love of that, because it was rather black and white. And like now, that people with this comments for context that’s just genius by the way. Because it does allow the candidate to explain, gives the story behind this story.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      I usually do this towards the end of the podcast, but I’ll want to pull it forward. When folks look at GoodHire for the first time. What do they fall in love with? Like, I call it aha moment. But when they see the demo for the first time, what do they walk away or what do they really raise shocked by? Or what do they love?

Mike Grossman:      It’s just exceptionally simple and easy to understand. It’s kind of designed the way that consumer software is typically. And that’s always been the approach to how all of our user interfaces are designed. So the impression is, wow, this is incredibly easy to use. And that’s something that we really spend a lot of time on.

William Tincup:      Yeah. And you know what? What people don’t get about that is, ease of user is actually really difficult to create.

Mike Grossman:      That’s exactly right. It’s really well said. I think that’s exactly right.

William Tincup:      I remember back in the day there was Yahoo and well, a bunch of… But Yahoo and Google. And when Google just made this little box, it’s like, yeah that in and of itself was factually really difficult. I’m sure they struggled over the concept of having all of that stuff and not having it. And, but ease of use to making it really simple behind the scenes. There is a whole lot of heavy lifting going on.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. And part of that heavy lifting is talking to customers a lot. In [crosstalk 00:      14:      08] both sides. It’s the customers, and it’s the candidates, and it’s doing a lot of research. And it’s doing a lot of usability testing and asking people to use things and give their feedback as to when something is easy or less easy. And then constantly making changes and refining the experience so it just gets better and better over time. So it requires a real commitment and investments.

William Tincup:      Oh, a 100%. And then again, for it to be adopted for usage and assumption. You’ve got ease of use and you’ve got to… And again, some level of getting people and getting their feedback and actioning it. I love the way you said it up. It’s a commitment.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      You may become one of your core, or cornerstones, or value, et cetera. It’s like, okay, we’re going to be committed to always making it easy to use, which is long term commitment.

Mike Grossman:      That’s right.

William Tincup:      If somebody were to actually look behind the scenes, they’d see a whole lot of folks in UI and UX and just again, working with and talking with all the different constituents to find out, okay, what friction? Where’s the friction? And it’s just, okay, how do we get rid of the friction?

Mike Grossman:      So I think that’s the first aha. But then I think the second part of it is getting answers back that are accurate and getting them back rapidly.

William Tincup:      Speed.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. And it matters a lot because there’s a lot of competition for hiring right now.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      And so being able to background check quickly and accurately of course, is really vital. And in the space, because of, I think per your comments before that there’s a lot of companies that have neglected really the investment in modern technology. Historically, things have been slow and inaccurate. And it’s possible to improve that in a very fundamental way. And that’s what we’re devoted to.

William Tincup:      I remember working with a screening company in Houston. And it was normal to have a 72 hour window. And then that was just no… I mean, that was the bit like they told us when we were hiring. Yeah. She’ll give us 72 hours. We’ll turn everything around. And that was normal. And we accepted it as normal. And if I told a recruiter today, oh yeah, 72 hours, they’d literally say the [inaudible 00:      16:      47] will have a job in 72 hours.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      I can’t. I need 72 minutes. Like how can we shrink this down? So I’m sure it’s not that fast. But speed and quality y’all are at that intersection point of both. It’s got to be quality because there’s no use of doing something fast if it’s not accurate. And so quality is a major component. But it’s also got to be very fast. Where are you? I’m assuming you’re integrated with a lot of ATSs in terms of workflow.

Mike Grossman:      We are. I mean, many of the ATSs we have integrations with. But interestingly, most of our customers come to us really by finding us on the web.

William Tincup:      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Grossman:      And then a subset of them end up leveraging GoodHire by going through ATSs and those integrations.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      But many of them don’t. I mean, we have tens of thousands of customers that actually just interact with our website directly.

William Tincup:      Yep. And that’s because again your origin. When you start with SNB-

Mike Grossman:      Yes.

William Tincup:      … You’re spending money there and paper click, and they’re finding you via Google. And then when they fall in love again, they do one. They fall in love with it. And then now it’s like they don’t know anything different. Like a lot of those companies it’s like this might be their foray into screening.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      But then the other option is being in marketplaces for different ATSs. You’re already integrated so they want this position to have this screen, et cetera.

Mike Grossman:      That’s right. So we do have a lot of integrations companies like ADP, and Ambu, and greenhouse and lever and so on. It’s a fairly long list.

William Tincup:      Oh yeah.

Mike Grossman:      [crosstalk 00:      18:      49] We’re trying to be where customers need us to be.

William Tincup:      Yeah. Well, the funny but odd joke is the largest HR tech company in the world is Microsoft office. Like most of HR, especially where some of places where you play it’s Word, Excel.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      And so, you’re actually automating some things. You’re pulling them out of Microsoft into giving them something modern for this piece of hiring. Which is really nice. What do you foresee as your past screening? Because we think of, at least historically, we thought of screening in town acquisition and I don’t think we’ll ever think of that part going away. But is there a responsibility, or do you see some movement post-employment for screening?

Mike Grossman:      Yes. We support basically continuous screening for those companies that are interested in it. And I think we see that growing.

William Tincup:      Tell us about that.

Mike Grossman:      Typically, when someone does the initial screen it’s before they’re hired. But then after they’re hired in a lot of cases, companies are interested in making sure that something doesn’t show up that is worrisome a year later or five years later. And so it’s possible to check so often, every six months, every nine months, every 12 months. Or any time something happens that shows up in the national criminal database, for example. So it is possible to do that an ongoing basis.

William Tincup:      And why this is important for our HR listeners is again, risk, right? So, you’re managing risk on the front end to make sure that you minimize the risk on the front end of the hiring process. And you do continuous screening to do the same thing so that if somebody… If again, whatever that would pop up, you’d want to know about it so that you can then get in front of it.

Mike Grossman:      That’s right.

William Tincup:      And if you’re just doing it on the front. If you’re thinking about screening just entire acquisition, you’re exposing the firm, your company to potential risk after the hire.

Mike Grossman:      I think it’s a great way to think about it. It’s not just the step in the hiring process. I mean, it serves this larger purpose of ensuring trust and safety within a workplace. And so that’s something that companies need to worry about on an ongoing basis.

William Tincup:      Well, if they do it they do it at their peril because again, it’s a liability. You just don’t know what it is. And if you don’t know that’s risk and that’s could be all kinds of things. I mean, it could be fine, but the problem is now you’re using hope as a strategy.

Mike Grossman:      Right. Exactly.

William Tincup:      That’s never a good thing.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      Buying questions that you love and maybe even buying questions that you love. So when you interact with folks, your sales team and everybody else. When they interact with customer or prospects at this point. What do you love to hear? Like, what do you automatically when you hear something then you’re like, okay, they get it. Like, okay, this isn’t going to be a difficult conversation. All right. And then there’s also signals where you’re like, okay, all right, clearly they don’t get it. Okay. We’ll try and get them there, but what would you-

Mike Grossman:      well, it’s interesting. In some cases our sales team doesn’t get involved because we have a self-service flow.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      Where folks just can sign up immediately and start doing background checks and can do that. But in the sales context, a lot of times they’re feeling pain. Basically, they’re saying, listen we’re hiring a bunch of folks and we need to move at a rapid pace. And we’re really frustrated with our current provider because either the turnaround time is slow, or the data isn’t accurate, or it’s really hard to use. And all of those are things that we can address very quickly.

William Tincup:      I was about to say is they had a bad experience especially with compliance or lawsuits or anything like that. Have they had a bad experience and now they have to beef up this part of their business. Have you seen some of those things as well?

Mike Grossman:      We’ve seen some of that. It goes back to some of the comments you made at the beginning of our discussion which is, it’s this very big market. And yet it’s seen very little in the way of innovation. And the consequence of that is there are a lot of companies that are frustrated with the background checking process. And the reality is that there is a better way. It’s interesting in a way that it’s taken so long in this segment, because I think there are other segments where modern technology has innovated earlier. And I’m not exactly sure why. Historically, it’s played out this way.

William Tincup:      Oh, I think they’re just… It’s just what happens when you get fat and happy. You just don’t see the need to innovate. And especially when you’re in a services firm. As a tech company, it’s innovate or die.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      And so I think it’s just kind of the DNA of the historic firms coming out of, this is just my opinion. Coming out of private investigations and coming out of a service and really being slanted towards one side.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah.

William Tincup:      Not both sides of the equation. And yeah, you get big, you get fat, you get lazy. And I’m not putting anybody in that category. I’m just saying that’s actually kind of what happens. And so you don’t have the pressure, actually, technically you don’t put the pressure on yourself to innovate.

Mike Grossman:      I think that’s right. I also think there’s a cultural dimension, which is just some companies, I think that GoodHire is like this. We really genuinely care about treat ing people well and providing a great experience for customers and candidates. I mean, we try to apply that within our own company as well. And I think that if you have that ethos, you’re really committed to having a great team, and team dynamic, and culture, and a value driven approach. And it’s genuine, it’s not just rhetoric. It has an enormous impact on the customer experience. And it helps you innovate because you’re not innovating for innovation’s sake. You’re innovating to improve people’s experience.

William Tincup:      That’s it gets back to the ease of use thing. You make a commitment. If you make that commitment, the commitment to innovate, you make that commitment to ease of use. That’s a lifelong, that’s a relentless commitment. That’s not a one done. It’s never goes away. You’re just constantly on the hamster wheel of, okay, how can we make this better? Two things real quick.

William Tincup:      One is, I’ve spoken [inaudible 00:      26:      30] whatnot about background screens in particular. Certain assessments and skills testing. People talk about them as commodities. And I’m on the record, several different times of saying things that are valuable are not commodities. So if it’s something truly valuable in your hiring process or in your HR process, it’s not a commodity. You might be buying in volume that’s different, but it’s not a commodity. And you shouldn’t think of it as such because then it becomes about price. And as I’ve given the advice to practitioners, the last thing you should interact with a vendor about is price. Do all the other stuff first. You’re going to eventually sign a contract and you’re going to eventually get to price. It doesn’t need to be the first question you ask.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. I agree. It’s interesting your comments about perceptions of commoditization. I think it’s really absolutely spot on in terms of how companies have tended to think about background checking. But also how background checking companies have tended to think about the market.

William Tincup:      That’s right.

Mike Grossman:      There’s this passive acceptance that this is a space that’s commoditized. And I don’t believe that.

William Tincup:      I don’t either.

Mike Grossman:      And we’ve defied that. Our view is, I’m not sure it’s a word, but we basically are uncomcommoditizing the space. It’s like every piece of what happens in a background check can be done better. Or what happens if you do all of them better.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      Then you’re not a commodity. You’re providing… It’s a profoundly better experience and it has a hugely positive ripple effect through the hiring process and beyond.

William Tincup:      A hundred percent. I think it’s de-commoditizing but I don’t even have to-

Mike Grossman:      That sounds right.

William Tincup:      … One of those is correct and one of them isn’t. Or maybe both of them are incorrect. Who knows? But, I absolutely agree with you. And again you’re going to, as a practitioner, listening to this, you’re going to get to price. I mean, it’s inevitable. Okay. It just doesn’t need to be the first thing. It doesn’t even need to be in the first few conversations that you have. It’s like, let’s make sure that we’re aligned philosophically. Let’s make sure the technology works in a workflow. Like there’s other very more important things, speed and quality and more important things than price. You’ll get to price. Don’t worry. You don’t have to rush there. Last things, Mike, your favorite customer story. And again, no names, no brands, nothing like that. Just like something that you just, and I know you have thousands of these, but just something where you just like it really, really worked out or maybe a story where a customer used GoodHire and you’re like, they did it in an innovative way or just something that you just love.

Mike Grossman:      My favorite story is we were contacted by a company that helps out the US government at the Mexican US border. And the context is when people are trying to come over the border and sometimes kids are detained as part of that. And people and adults need to look after them. And the purpose of the backgrounds screening is to make sure that the adults who have that responsibility are safe with respect to those kids.

William Tincup:      Right.

Mike Grossman:      That’s a specific use case where we’re working with that company now. As a specific use case we’re really doing something good. I think. It’s…

William Tincup:      100% percent keep people safe.

Mike Grossman:      Yeah. Basically defenseless kids in [crosstalk 00:      30:      28] So, there’s a lot of situations where I feel good about what we’re doing, but that one particularly stood out.

William Tincup:      Oh, I could see that being… I mean, first of all, it’s wonderful. And again, yes, it’s a software company. Yes you’re in business to make money. Okay. All that stuff stated and covered, but when you can do something good along the way, it just makes it special. And you’re actually keeping kids in a safe environment. That is doing good. That’s just doing great work. So, Michael, thank you so much for coming on the Use Case Podcast and explaining GoodHire to us. I absolutely appreciate your time.

Mike Grossman:      Thank you. I enjoyed it. Thanks a lot.

William Tincup:      All righty. And thanks to everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time

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The Use Case 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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