Storytelling about Interviewer.AI With Sunny Saurabh
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 167. This week we have storytelling about Interviewer.AI With Sunny Saurabh. During this episode, Sunny and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Interviewer.AI.
Sunny is an expert in all things strategy and management. His passion for building the penultimate step to hire great talent really comes through during the podcast.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 26 minutes
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Sunny Saurabh is skilled in ideation, sales strategy, product vision, working for some of the biggest Silicon-valley based companies such as LinkedIn, MySpace. His strong execution capability, analytical skills, and result-oriented approach fuels Interviewer.AI’s vision to become the penultimate step to hire great talent.Follow Follow
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, Willaim Tincup.
Ladies and gentleman, this is Willaim Tincup. You are listening to The Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Sunny on from Interviewer.AI. We’re going to be learning about the use case, or business case, for why clients buy Interviewer.AI. Without any further ado, Sunny, would you please introduce yourself and Interviewer.AI?
Sure, Willaim. Thanks for having me.
So, hi. Hi, everyone. I’m Sunny, co-founder and CEO of Interviewer.AI. It’s an all-in-one video recruitment software. For the past decade, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with companies like Google, MySpace, if some of you remember it, and LinkedIn. I’m based in Singapore. It’s one small, tiny nation where there are more jobs than there are candidates.
One of the challenges that I found at LinkedIn was as a hiring manager, you are constantly hiring for resources in, say, Australia or Hong Kong. Because you are LinkedIn, you attract hundreds of applicants. So, how do you go about from hundreds of applicants to the four or five that you should be investing your time with? That’s the challenge that we are solving with Interviewer.AI. We want to become the default interviewing platform of choice in a way that we combine the application process with a pre-interview round before a human face-to-face interview round takes place. We have hundreds of customers, largely small businesses, universities, and staffing agencies all over the world.
Real quick, just so the audience understands. In the video interviewing space, at least historically, there’s been synchronous versus asynchronous. For the audience, just explain what the difference is and what you all believe in.
Sure. As you rightly pointed out, the video interviewing space is not new. It’s been there for over eight to nine years. They have asynchronous and synchronous video interviews. There is innovation happening in both the spaces. We operate in the asynchronous video space. Imagine you are hiring in this remote hiring environment where you’re dealing with multiple time zones, people are busy, people are juggling their work life and want to do things at their own time.
Asynchronous video interviews, in a way, solves for it because you’re still using the structured interview techniques. You’re doing situation and behavioral interview assessments at the convenience of the candidates.
I love that. Now, where in the funnel does your clients like to put Interviewer.AI?
Willaim, this is the start of the funnel. We are getting into a territory which is pre-interview, pre-screened, pre-assessed candidates. Neither the candidates nor the businesses want to go through a long hiring process.
You want decisions within a week or so, not months that we were used to before the pandemic.
Just so everyone understands, Interviewer.AI is going to be in the workflow. It’s going to be integrated with, I would assume, all ATSs or whatever ATS. Where do you all play in the market? Are y’all enterprise? Are you SMB, or you’re somewhere in-between?
We are in the SMB space, largely.
Yeah. Okay. So then, the ATSs that people use that are there, things like JazzHR and things like that, it would be integrated there. Someone applies for a job.
Then, Interviewer.AI serves up a way for the interview questions that are important to the company, the candidate ask, if I’m explaining this correctly. Then, the candidate would then answer those. I’m sure it’s mobile friendly. They would answer those questions and then recruiters or hiring managers would then be able to look at those responses and then figure out which candidates that they’d like to move forward. Or is there some other parts of the process that happen?
Sure, Willaim. You bring an interesting point. For example, you look at ATSs all over. JazzHR is one, Greenhouse is another they could integrate, Workday. There are so many others. An easiest way to explain how we come in is LinkedIn. You post a job on LinkedIn. On the apply button, we already are integrated. Then, all the candidates that apply for the job, they just put in their resume, answer a few questions under what we call as a work map assessment, and then answer three to five questions, which is an asynchronous video interview where they’re explaining what have they done, who they are, and why do they want to join the company.
Then, in a dashboard, they will get all candidates that rank by different parameters from their resume scoring to, say, work map assessments to the video interview. In the asynchronous video interview space, what we have done is something very innovative. Which is, in a face-to-face interview, research says that you’re looking at likability. If you break down likability, you come up with things like professionalism, sociability, energy levels, and communication skills. These are a few parameters that you can break it down. Are you sociable? Will you get along with your teammates? Do you have good energy?
These are very, very simple things that people look for in the top of the funnel when you’re deciding whether you want to spend 30 to 40 minutes of your team’s time in evaluating this candidate or not. That’s where we come in.
I love it.
Yes. It’s exciting that… We have seen that you identify one. They are looking to hire one person but they end up saying, “Hey. This person might not be suitable for this role but maybe for the client services role this person would be great.” This has been happening quite a bit now. You can share their digital profiles and share it with all the hiring managers across the globe. It becomes very, very efficient.
What’s crazy is that you know they’re interested in the company and they were interested in that position, but if they’re better suited for another position, it’s found art. It’s easy for the recruiters to say, “You know what?” Or they’ve filled that position but they’ve still got this wonderful candidate.
A couple things. One is, you get the question all the time, I’m sure, but it’s related to hiring bias. How do you talk clients through hiring bias and how to use video in more appropriate ways, et cetera?
To bring up your earlier point, what used to happen at companies where I used to work, like Google, you apply for a position and you cannot apply for another position for the next six to eight months. Those times have gone. What we have seen with the hiring bias or basically any bias that comes in because of your unconscious or conscious nature of how you know people, we have seen that structured interview techniques is one of the best ways to go about it.
Don’t get me wrong. Hiring is subjective. If you hire somebody, and you are the CEO of a company, you would hire differently than how I would hire. It is subjective of what your understanding of what the company needs, what the team composition is, what you want from that person, how you want to drive that. You will make your own choice. How can we make the full process data-driven? How can we point out the right candidates?
For example, on the resume side, we look at things like skills, the candidate qualifications and experience. You’re at least getting that bucket, right? We’re looking at whether this person is collaborative or not. Or things like whether this person will excel in a team or in a remote environment. Those kind of things are assessed.
For a video interview setup, we are looking at, “Okay. Can this guy really try? Is he interested in the company?” Once you do that and you are not really… There’s no bias there we’re applying to age, race, skin color. We go extra lengths to ensure we train the models in such a way that there is no bias that comes in. Over time, as you go through the funnel, you notice that you have made certain choices and you have short listed certain candidates and you have gone and hired your people.
Maybe cyclically, maybe in six months, maybe a year’s time, you could analyze that data to look for whether you’re hiring from certain universities or from certain companies, or is there any disparity that’s coming in. There’s all this data. There’s some amazing tools. We have our own analytics. There are amazing ways to assess whether you are being biased or not. I hope I’ve answered your questions.
You absolutely did. One of the things that you mentioned, and I want to just make sure the audience gets this, is it learns or you’re training yourself on some of the things that you’re looking for or some of the things that come out the data. Your name, it’s Interviewer.AI. I would assume that if not now, then in the future, you’ve got some machine learning and AI built in to help recruiters understand what’s being said or not being said in the videos. Is that true?
Absolutely. We focus on explainable AI or a narrow version of AI where we are looking at, “Just look for this element.” One thing that’s different on our platform is that we care more about the hiring manager’s data than we care about the recruiter’s data because-
… the hiring manager has an idea of what they want from this person and whether this person has done well, or is doing well, is excelling in that organization or not. We try to take that feedback again and again from the hiring manager and reverse engineer the patterns in what the successful candidates or the most thriving candidates in those companies look like.
Initially, we go with certain set of assessments and tests but then the proof is in the pudding once you get hired and you start working in the organization, which are the successful candidates and how can we further improve the requirement for that company.
Well, COVID made video interviewing much easier for folks probably because before, as you said, video interviewing as a software category has been around for a few years. But candidates, whether or not there was reluctance on the recruiter side or hiring manager side, or on the candidate side. It doesn’t really matter. Everyone being remote, you had to get over that, whatever, intellectual or emotional hump.
Again, we’re not out of COVID. Totally understand that. How do you feel like people, once COVID is done, how do you feel video interviewing… Have we learned something and we’re just not going to go backwards? Or is it going to be a blended, some people are going to come into the office to do interviews, some people will do video interviews?
The second question, as it relates is what have y’all found in terms of people’s feelings as it relates to video interviews? Do they prefer doing a video interview as opposed to doing one in an office environment?
Mm-hmm affirmative). These are great questions. We are almost a three year old company. Before COVID, as I remember, we were working with a retail giant here in Singapore. We got just 15% response from all applicants, just 15% response. And, “Oh, God. It’s not going to work. Nobody wants to take an interview.” Last year, I was stuck in Germany before, just prior to that whole wave in Europe. Again, the same thing.
Now, for a candidate, it’s just respectful for employers to ask candidates to take a video interview. From that, we are seeing in some markets 70% completion rates. We are seeing on average 40 plus completion rates on all applicants. What we have found is that… We take feedback from every candidate the moment they take it. They love it simply because we operate in multiple time zones and candidates want to have the freedom to take and record whenever they feel like. They want that opportunity to retake if they haven’t done a good enough interview. Those things give them the freedom.
Stop right there-
… for just a sec, Sunny. I love this because it’s fascinating because in real life… Well, real life. In an office environment, let’s say. You’re sitting across the table from someone and they’re asking you a battery of questions. You don’t get a do-over. With a video interview, especially your technology in particular, do you give them a certain number of do-overs? Or is it unlimited, or is it until they feel really comfortable? How do you feel about it?
First of all, I love it because I think candidates generally are nervous about jobs, even the most confident. Some people just don’t interview well.
But they’re really, really great candidates. And so, I like the do-over. I’m actually a huge fan of it. Do you let the client set that as a setting?
Or is it just something that’s built into the technology?
You’re right. We let the clients set it in. By default, it’s as many times as you can.
Willaim, you’d be surprised that people… One, are people going to do too many do-overs? Unless they have made a fatal mistake, made a real screw-up on what they were saying on the interview, they do not do a do-over because everybody is conscious of their time.
Secondly, the behavior that we are seeing is that even if you record a 10 minute video interview, you are doing the same thing that you used to do over a resume. You would look at 15 to 20 seconds of a response, go to your favorite questions. Again, look for certain things that you’re looking at. We do a speech-to-text so you can read through the lines and you are making your short listing decision and sharing it with your teammates whether of these three to five, who should we invite for a face-to-face interview. We are seeing that the number of face-to-face interview rounds are coming down drastically.
It’s just a better way to interview, more efficient for everybody.
Absolutely. This, to me, is going to stay. I know there’s a lot of chatter across large organizations about hybrid way of working and whether this is going to stay beyond the pandemic. In Singapore, because the location from one end to another is just 40 minutes, the feeling is that things are going to go back to normal.
I would be very surprised if that’s what happens because if you look at… Don’t look at the enterprises. They are the slowest to change. Look at these small businesses, Series A companies, Series B companies, that are expanding from, say, 30 to 300. They are putting up job roles that says, “Location anywhere.”
I have got clients that have hired in Argentina, in Colombia, in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh. It just works. Your office is anywhere. You don’t need a physical location to be operational as an organization. I think that’s going to be the future of work.
I’ve said a couple different times that video interviewing software, that as a category, feels like, when done well, collaboration software because recruiters and hiring managers and sourcers, everybody can look at a video and have their notes and see the same thing. As opposed to Bob interviewed Sally, then Jim interviewed Sally, then Ted interviewed Sally. Then it’s okay, they compare notes afterwards. They’re all looking at the same video and then they compare what they liked and didn’t like, and how they answered the question, et cetera.
Do your clients view it as a collaboration, or as collaboration? Maybe not collaboration software. That might be not the right way of thinking about it, but as more of a collaborative process.
They do. One of the first things that I would like to mention is that we are not this enterprise versus candidates kind of a platform. It’s more for the marketplace. The candidates, we give them total view of their video interview. We tell them what the API has scored them. We give them insights that will help them improve in the near future.
We have been working with the seven largest universities here in Singapore and training the [inaudible 00:20:13] students when they go for all these intern and first job roles in large organizations where there’s typically no human interview. You have to sit through an asynchronous for the interview round. We start there. They’re prepared for the physical and the technical environment for the interview. Once all the interviews are given, there’s a recruiter, of course, who is looking at most of the candidates and doing a short list and sharing it with the five to six stakeholders in the hiring team for their feedback.
It’s a quick feedback of still, “Who should we invite for a face-to-face round?” Then he just gets a few ratings. Typically, we have seen that it goes back to how much of the people have made the effort to understand the company that they’re joining in. Do they understand their role? Then, one or two people are short listed for face-to-face interview rounds. Typically, we have seen even in companies in a place like Dubs and they would schedule their hiring manager round as a group interview for the chosen candidates because you’re working in different time zones.
I love that. Okay. Two questions are left. We’ve got five, six minutes. First is favorite part of the demo. When you show somebody, or when somebody on your team shows somebody Interviewer.AI for the first time, what do clients and prospects at this point, what do they latch onto and just love?
We got a large adtech platform recently. They loved that they do not have to do a phone interview or ask any questions. [crosstalk 00:22:15]-
Just the reduction of time and pain and all that other stuff.
Yeah. Initially when we were going to market, we said time to hire, quality of hire, and cost of hire.
It’s all time to hire. It’s efficiency. They love it. They love that part.
Favorite customer stories, and they could be recent customer stories, where they’re using Interviewer.AI and they just can’t imagine life without it or they’re using it in a really unique way and things like that. You probably got hundreds of these but just something that’s just one of your favorite stories that you like to tell.
I have two. One was as recent as last week and I was surprised. There was a hair styling company from New York that’s using our software to hire across their locations. They’re worldwide. Which is very interesting for me because when we built this technology we were thinking it should be for customer-facing roles. Hairdressers, hair stylists, are not the number one use case that would have come to mind but apparently they see a use case and that’s great.
I love it.
Yeah. The other was we were… All right. Customer-facing roles make sense. Retail, hospitality, airlines. These are use cases that we work for. One of the leading airlines is getting about 700-odd applicants for cabin crew. They want to just focus on 50.
Because just 50 is what they could do a good job of and how can we help them do that. It’s very interesting how it comes back to how you see your brand, how great are the communication skills, et cetera, et cetera. They just love us because it’s just tiny response to the candidates. They know exactly who they are short listing. It’s very quick. Not so long ago, this used to be a walk-in.
Walk in and [crosstalk 00:24:28].
The world has changed. Yeah. I don’t think it’s going to go back. This efficiency, you’re getting used to it. It’s like riding a Tesla after you’ve been on the Ford or whatever. Yes.
It’s interesting because again, the efficiency, we’re now baking that into our schedules. To go back to something that’s, frankly, inefficient but also just not a great experience… If we think about the candidate experience or recruiter experience, hiring manager experience, there’s just the efficiency of just not wasting time. It’s good for candidates, too. They apply to something. They answer a couple questions. If they’re not a fit or if they’re not seen as a fit, it’s a quick response.
They can move on and the process doesn’t have to drag out, so I love it. Sunny, I absolutely appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for coming on The Use Case Podcast.
It’s a pleasure, Willaim. Thank you. It’s an honor to be on your podcast. Thank you for having me.
Absolutely. Thanks for everyone listening to The Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
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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.