Storytelling about Qualifi with Darrian Mikell

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 103. This week we have storytelling about Qualifi with Darrian Mikell. During this episode, Darrian and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Qualifi.

Darrian is an expert in all things HR Tech and Candidate Experience. His passion for creating a recruiting process that simplifies and supports both the company and candidate experience really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 29 minutes


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William:  00:24
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. [inaudible 00:00:31] I have Darrian on from Qualifi and we’re going to be talking about his firm today and it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be fast and can’t wait to get into it. Darrian, would you do us a favor, the audience, a favor and introduce both yourself and introduce Qualifi.

Darrian:  00:46
Hey, first of all, thanks William for having me on, like you said, I’m Darrian Mikell, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Qualifi. You can find us at Qualifi, spelled with an I instead of a Y, HR, and what we do is we’ve built the fastest phone interview experience in the world, and it’s a screening platform for high volume recruiters to help them, as I said to screen candidates faster, make them more efficient, give them some time back in their day and get candidates hired faster.

William:  01:19
I like that. So high volume and you define… Sometimes people, when they say high volume, they… That’s a synonym for hourly. Are you thinking that way with Qualifi? Or are you thinking high volume can be anything if you’re hiring a thousand engineers and you just… It’s high volume, you have more engineers. Take the audience into the way that you and your customers use the word high volume.

Darrian:  01:47
Yeah, and honestly it does mean a lot of things to different people. In some cases, high-volume could just mean almost we’re a small team, a single HR person that also does the recruiting that just has more volume than they can handle, which might not mean the same as a team of four to 10 recruiters that is hiring hundreds of people a month. But we actually have serviced both of those in what it tends to be is, where you’ll see tons of applicants… Where you might be hiring regularly for the same position. It is often hourly positions or positions that are prone to turning over quickly. But we usually sit where, or we usually service best when you’re receiving a large influx of applications. And oftentimes that may not be your highly skilled, highly technical positions that you might have to headhunt more, but it is often those hourly positions that you recruit for regularly.

William:  02:55
Love it. And so the way that folks categorize you because this industry is littered as you well know with a lot of lingo, or addicted lingo, but on some level, I can see people thinking of you as an assessment, as a peer screening application, an interviewing application, where do your customers… I think that’s probably the best way to start is, where do your customers see you?

Darrian:  03:24
Yeah, I’d say they see us in the interviewing space, but where we differ from other interviewing platforms is the specific step in the process where we sit. We’re usually just after receiving an application or the resume, we occupy what would have been the phone interview.

William:  03:44
Right, prequalification.

Darrian:  03:47
Yeah exactly that prequalification, most of the time, our recruiters are asking roughly five to 10 questions to qualify them, to move them to the next stage where they may do a more in-depth interview.

William:  04:02
Do you currently… Do you get into scheduling or do you see that as a path down the road that you want to get into, once you’ve qualified, then putting them into a step-by-step scheduling queue or something like that?

Darrian:  04:17
Yeah. Without getting into any of our road-mapping secrets, that is definitely-

William:  04:22
I don’t want your secret sauce Darrian!

Darrian:  04:24
Nothing too secretive. There’s nothing crazy innovative specifically there yet, but we do anticipate spreading our tentacles into [crosstalk 00:04:33]

William:  04:33
Yeah, well, it’s logical, right? I mean, at one point, if you’re doing the pre-qualification, which is so time-consuming for folks and you can take that off their plate and then take that thousand candidates down to the hundred that they really should be interviewing, then it makes sense that you would then go further into workflow.

William:  04:57
Without giving again… Without giving away trade secrets and whatnot. Are you using kind of conversational bots and AI to pre-qualify or kind of… Takes into pre… What does pre-qualification look like?

Darrian:  05:09
Yeah. So I’ll give you a little bit of the… How it works. So recruiters pre-record audio-based questions into our platform. They’re able to take those questions from their question bank, and stack them to create standardized interviews that they can send out to their candidates in the format for which these candidates respond is they’ll receive a text or an email invitation. They click a link to read instructions. Their phone number is either already programmed into that invite, or they’re able to enter their phone number. They hit start, confirm, and then our system dials them. And then from there, it’s very similar to navigating a voicemail. They can respond to the questions, they hear a real person’s voice. They respond to those questions and we record it. We transcribe it and make both that recording and that transcription, available to the recruiter. And as of right now most recruiters really love just the utilitarian nature. Like you said our industry is littered with a lot of buzzword technologies. But right now we’re focused on just removing that scheduling process and getting the information back to the recruiter a lot faster than they were before.

William:  06:23
Love this. So what I love about the standardized interviews is, as you well know, that helps with all the [DEI 00:06:33] initiatives that folks have because we’re not asking one candidate, one thing and another candidate, another thing. So I love that. I love the recruiter’s voice or the hiring manager’s voice and being able to ask questions. I love that there’s an element of humanity to that. And I also love the use of mobile, which I think is great, both for this audience and… High volume audience, but also, I just think it’s smart. That’s on their phone, it hits it. They can obviously just click on something and then listen to it and react to it. [inaudible 00:07:07] thing. Now, is there a transcription of… And transcription might not be the right word, but is there a way for recruiters… Because what I’m trying to get to is the scoring element.

William:  07:21
So again, we have thousands a year… I’m going to use base… Just regular numbers, but let’s say we have a thousand people that we send this out to and they all respond and they all… They respond to those questions. How do we know which ones answered the questions the way that we wanted? How do we stack rank them? And again, that might not be something you do, but I’m curious as to… Because I love the way you’re doing it. I love the standardization. I love mobile. I love the humanity or the voice. I love all of that. I’m just wondering how do they then get to… How does the recruiter then get to the hundred? Again, these are fake numbers. How do they get to the most qualified of those folks?

Darrian:  08:09
Yeah, that’s definitely something that we’re excited about in our roadmap. Right now, we’ve really focused on just relaying that interview. And a lot of people will, until they experience it, they don’t… They may have similar questions of, “I still have to…” they may say, “I still have to listen to it, or I still have to read it.” And the short answer is, yes, you do. But what they don’t realize is a lot of the time-saving gets cut out. And the fact that-

William:  08:37
They’re not doing it.

Darrian:  08:38
Yeah, they don’t have to schedule, they don’t have to go back and forth to candidates to get time on the calendar, which is usually days in the future. And then the actual review process is, it goes from a, what would have been a 30 minute typically, a 30-minute phone call down to what we see is an average of five minutes of review because you don’t have to listen to yourself ask the questions anymore. You can also listen to or read through specific questions first, so you can jump around.

William:  09:07
Oh, cool.

Darrian:  09:08
So you can you may have knockout questions or questions that compensation or start time… Their start date that may rule them out a lot quicker if they’re not a good fit immediately. And so you can save a lot of time that way.

William:  09:25
Oh, I love that. So the audio file, if I understand this, there’s eight questions and the audio file, they can then see the specific answers. If they just wanted to go to one of those eight, one of those questions and go, “I really care about the answer to this”.

Darrian:  09:40
Yeah, exactly. The way that we present it is stacked by question. So you can hit play all at the top and it’ll run through all those responses, or you can jump straight to the compensation response and listen to that first. So yeah.

William:  09:57
Well I love that… obviously the… What you said at the very beginning with Qualifi. This speeds up everything. And that helps because these candidates are making decisions pretty fast anyhow. So the faster we can get on the recruiting side or the hiring side, the more we can be nimble in a way, in mock their behavior as well. And be as fast as they are. So I love that. Where’s this… Where does… I know where workflow-wise they apply, then we take the data, and then we can do what we want with it. Where does it go back into their workflow? Because I’m assuming it goes back into an ATS, but it might not. So just take us through how your customers are thinking about workflow with Qualifi and using those audio files. And then again, those that they want to pursue, then what do they do next?

Darrian:  10:53
Yeah, absolutely. So out of the box, we’ve built our solution to be really user-friendly and really straightforward out of the box so they can either enter candidates manually. So as they receive candidates via their job boards or via their ATS, they can manually enter those candidates. All they need is contact information, their first, last name, and email and/or phone, to get those invites sent out. They can, like I said, they can do that manual entry.

Darrian:  11:23
They can also download lists and upload them directly. So the real power is being able to do a lot more asynchronously, so they can do one at a time, hundreds at a time.

Darrian:  11:34
And then we also can integrate with their ATS’s to automate the process. And in that case, they’re able to do a two-way sync of information, but out of the box they’re able to, like I said, to upload information, and then we make it really easy for them to download shareable links that they can share with colleagues internally. And then also the transcription file… Yeah, the transcription PDF. They can also save that for record-keeping or internal sharing purposes as well, which they could save to their, to their candidates file.

William:  12:06
I like that. I like that. I know people are going to want to know the integrations part with ATS is obviously all are modern technology’s so your API is probably relatively easy and pretty clean. Who do you already have integrations with, if you don’t mind me asking?

Darrian:  12:23
Yeah, so our first one is, we just kicked off and for context, we’re an early-stage startup and we just kicked off our integration with iCIMS. So we’re able to integrate with them. The way that we approach it typically with customers is that it’s customer-driven. So as they have those needs, for more integrations, we drive that decision.

William:  12:45
100%. That’s the way it should. Ultimately if you [inaudible 00:12:50] a hundred customers and 70 of them use iCIMS, you should be deeply integrated with iCIMS. It makes sense. Yeah. And you’ll follow that the more customers you get, and the more you learn about that, the more those integrations are just kind of [inaudible 00:13:04] that’s so fantastic.

William:  13:07
Examples of questions that you’ve seen from customers that you just really love. Can you take us into some questions that… Just these are benign questions. These are the kind of questions that you… Everybody’s going to ask these three questions.

Darrian:  13:21
Yeah. That’s a good one. I’d have to dig more in-depth into specific questions because every one of them have different needs. But the way that we typically recommend setting up your questions is. Because it is a little bit of a different format than what your live interview experience might be. So I teach them to do, what I refer to as a sandwich of an intro and an outro. So really set the tone at the beginning of the interview and also lead with a softball question to get the candidate used to the experience. So in mine, when I do demos, I usually ask, “Hey, what’s your favorite coffee order when you go out for coffee?”, just so they get a feel for first question experience and then get the ball rolling. But from there, a lot of them are around, fit to the job, fit to the company, learning more about their experience and then your logistical questions.

Darrian:  14:18
So, “What compensation expectations might you have?”, “What’s your start date?”, “What’s your availability for a follow-up interview?”, and then the conclusion would be usually around what next steps might look like alluding to what next steps could look like timeline, and then allowing space for them to ask questions. This has been actually really helpful. We eat our own dog food. We’ve hired a few people recently. And so we can go into those live interview situations already knowing what questions the candidate has and being able to address them in that next experience with them.

William:  14:54
That’s, first of all, it’s fascinating. I love the way you framed that. And I also love that you’re allowing the candidates, even in this context, you’re allowing the candidates, not just to answer the questions that are fed them, which is great and it’s fast. And again, it’s hitting them on technology that they are carrying around in their pockets. So it makes sense, that you’re allowing them the space and then saying, “Hey, if you’ve got questions now…”, this is your moment.

Darrian:  15:22
Yeah, and it’s really important, too, because the candidate experience matters. When we built this, we built this as a tool for recruiters and we wanted to help them save time, give them back time in their day. But if candidates don’t like it and then recruiters aren’t going to want to use it. And so we’ve gotten really great feedback from the candidate’s side, luckily, and they really love the convenience obviously, but then also they feel less pressure while they’re in the interview. But coaching the recruiters through how to set up these interviews, making them a little bit conversational, engaging, adding in those conversational cues. It’s still important to make that friendly, inviting experience.

William:  16:04
Hundred percent, well you’re automating it. So you’re… And everyone understands that. Which again, I think we’re at a place now in a time where people are comfortable with that. I go on a website and I’m shopping for something and a bot pops up. It’s not trying to hurt me. It’s trying to make my experience better. I get it. What questions are you seeing from candidates either for you… for Qualifi, or what are you seeing from some of your customers? What are candidates interested in these days?

Darrian:  16:38
That’s the question. So we don’t… We haven’t really dug into the specifics of what the candidates are asking those questions. So I couldn’t tell you that specifically. For us and the things that we’ve gotten back are really just about the role itself. What’s to be expected, learning more about the company, growth potential within the company. Pretty typical candidate questions.

William:  17:04
Yeah. Well, what’s interesting is growth potential. It’s something we always think about, internal mobility and mobility in general, but COVID, kind of shattered everyone’s thought of what is mobility look like? What is internal mobility? What is promotions? What does succession, what does that… All the stuff look like? It’s interesting to hear that candidates… I know there’s a curiosity, in fact, and this is actually iCIMS research, ironically. But one of the things they just researched about early-stage careers, folks, fresh grads, is they actually want to go into the office. Yeah. And literally, we’re doing a podcast… I’m like, “say that again?”, “what?”. And she’s explained the data and she’s just like, “So here’s the deal. Go back to your first job. You wanted to go in. You wanted to go to get dressed up, you wanted to go into the office. Well, they’re no different.”

Darrian:  18:11
Yeah. That makes sense.

William:  18:13
It does. When you think about like “Would I want to go into an office? No.”

Darrian:  18:17
Especially as a new person, as a new… When you need a little bit more feedback and that yeah.

William:  18:24
Yeah. I could see that. So the questions I love the ability for Qualifi to give, to help facilitate a great conversation, which is what a really great interview is. Is a great conversation. You’re just getting to know and getting to understand the person, you’re partly selling the company and job. And you’re also partly… They’re partly selling themselves as a candidate. So there’s a little bit of a dance that goes on.

William:  18:51
I love that you speed things up and it’s convenient for everybody. And again, love the fact that there is a point where candidates can also ask questions and a hiring manager or recruiters can respond to that. So right now, or when you say early stage, which is fantastic, what was… Take us back into the origin, we skipped over it at beginning but why… you could have started anything there? Why did you do… [crosstalk 00:19:22]

Darrian:  19:22
No, that’s a great… and this is also something that we usually lead into our conversations with our prospects and our customers is that we understand the pain points because we’ve done it ourselves. So for me personally, the reason that the pain point that I experienced was actually not high volume recruiting, but kind of that scenario that I painted, where I was a single person leading a lot of different responsibilities at a fast-growing company. So I was at another company called Viral Launch, and it was a fast-growing startup. We’re based here in Indianapolis. This company was also in Indianapolis and I was the vice president. And my main focus was on internal operations. My background’s actually in finance. And so I led that. I led all the other general administrative-legal aspects of the company.

Darrian:  20:14
And then HR and recruiting was also on my plate for roughly our first 40, 50 hires before we hired a dedicated director to lead HR. So for me, it was just crazy busy trying to manage what was effective, multiple full-time jobs all at once during a big swing of our hiring. And I found myself being really bogged down by my calendar, having all these, what I thought would be short interactions with candidates that still took up a lot of time. And then I found that one of the “Aha” moments was that I was really repetitive. I was asking intentionally the same seven questions to every candidate. And I just felt, hey, if I could just pre-record these and send it out, it would be way more convenient for the candidates. They would have a better experience because they wouldn’t be waiting for me.

Darrian:  21:03
And I would also be able to listen to it on my own time and move the process along faster. And then my co-founder also had similar experience. He’s also my brother, his name is Devin, and he recruited in in-home care space. And so that’s high turnover. He spent half his day on the phone and still had other responsibilities outside of that. And so we saw this pain point ourselves and knew that there was a bigger problem for recruiters that we could solve. And so we started to build it.

William:  21:37
I love that. And Indianapolis for folks that don’t know is a wonderful tech hub. There are some great HR and recruiting technology companies that are there and just some great folks in our industry that are there. So a lovely place as well.

William:  21:53
So what’s interesting is even in your role at your previous company, you still, you said seven questions. I don’t know if that was an arbitrary number or not, but that’s… You had a standard or you had an approach to interviewing that was more appropriate than I would say the normal kind of HR normal person, because… SHRM actually… You can go onto their website, they list all the different hiring biases. I think there’s seven or eight different hiring biases right? And one of those… To get out of that is to standardize, as you did then, and as you help your customers do now. Do you remember any of your seven questions?

Darrian:  22:43
It’s actually some of the… [crosstalk 00:22:45] It’ll take me a second, I can pull it up, but it actually is those questions I mentioned earlier around how I coach people through the interview. It stems from that.

William:  22:56
Oh, that’s genius.

Darrian:  22:57
It actually was seven questions. It wasn’t an arbitrary number. I remember it because I found an article online. I think it was titled “The seven questions you should ask in a phone interview”, but for context, it was my first time recruiting. So I wanted to do… I didn’t know exactly what I should ask. So I referenced what seemed like a reliable source and I didn’t know at the time, but it was standardizing. And I think that was helpful. But now I recognize that that is highly recommended to be able to compare candidates on a more objective basis.

William:  23:35
Yeah. It’s actually the way… What’s nice is you did it innately, but what’s great about it is now you understand foundationally and you can help people. This is the thing is. When you’re coaching people you use that word a number of times, when you’re working with customers, you’re coaching them as to these things. You’re also eliminating bias, in a way, because you’re teaching them that, hey listen, this is why you want to do this. This is… You’re here… You can use different questions. That’s okay. You can move those in and out however you feel best represents the company or the job, but asking the candidates, all the candidates, the same questions is important to them. And it’s important for you to be able to evaluate all that talent. So I love that.

Darrian:  24:31
Yeah, and that’s one of the challenges out of the gate for us, was this, right now you heard me lead with the fastest founder interview experience. So we really stand by the fact that we can help speed… make things faster and more efficient, but there’s also all these other value propositions around you touched on the DEI components that [crosstalk 00:24:53] side of it, but the consistency and the fairness that goes into it is also a big value proposition that we like to explain to people because they might ask, “Why can’t I ask follow up questions in this format?” And, where that is true. There is a time and place for those follow-up questions. And then too, sometimes those questions could create different experiences for different candidates that may [crosstalk 00:25:20]

William:  25:19
That’s exactly right. Well, and this is when some of the bias, right? So you and I do an interview and you asked me the coffee question and I go blank. Maybe I don’t drink coffee. Right? Or I go into a really specific Starbucks order and it kind of triggers you like “oh shit”, you like soy too you know? And now we go off on this bit and that’s a different experience from the very next candidate that maybe is a tea drinker.

Darrian:  25:53
Yeah. And the one that’s relevant for me that I always present is, I’m an athlete. I played sports through college. And so if… A positive trigger for me is if I find that someone played basketball, then it’s like “Oh this person’s a hooper”, and maybe we can relate on those levels, but they may not be qualified for the job at all. But I might like them for the wrong reason.

William:  26:15
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Well, you can’t be in Indiana and not play basketball. So it’s like a prerequisite. I live in Texas. You have to have a gun.

Darrian:  26:25

William:  26:29
[Crosstalk 00:26:29] In Indiana, you literally can’t be in Indiana, and not at least have a basketball goal in your driveways. You just can’t, sorry it doesn’t work that way.

William:  26:39
Last thing that I want to ask is, we don’t get into the specifics of pricing, but the pricing philosophy. How do you take people through the way things cost for Qualifi?

Darrian:  26:53
Yeah. So before we get into those pricing conversations, as we really want to obviously understand, we take people through the typical sales process and really try to understand what problems they are encountering, and how it can be [inaudible 00:27:07] to really unpack that ROI for them. But the typical method in which we price is usually based off of their hiring demands, their company size, and their hiring demands, which is basically their volume. And we charge usually a subscription, which is on an annual basis, but often it is a process change for them. So we’ll give them the option to do a one to three-month pilot on a month-to-month basis to really see for themselves the results that we can bring and then make that longer-term decision.

William:  27:43
Yeah. Well, there’s no doubt… I see the value and I think people will immediately see the value. I love that you let people, Hey listen there is some change to this for the organization and for process, et cetera. So let’s go slow to go fast. Try it. Let’s take a couple of jobs through it and then let’s get serious. So I love that.

Darrian:  28:10
Yeah, at this point, maybe in the earliest of stages, it might’ve been a little bit… We were a little bit nervous because it wasn’t proven out, but now we’ve seen it work. We have people that love working with us and now it’s just like “Hey, yeah, we’ll do a trial.”. We love showing off our product and you’ll see for yourself. So yeah.

William:  28:30
Well, this has been wonderful. And it’s Qualifi with an I dot HR. Is that correct?

Darrian:  28:36
Correct. We have a cute koala as our logo [crosstalk 00:28:43]

William:  28:42
Yeah. Who doesn’t like that? Come on. Seriously. Darrian, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the Use Case podcast.

Darrian:  28:51
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This was fun.

William:  28:53
Awesome and thanks to everyone for listening. And until next time on the Use Case podcast. Thanks

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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