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TecHR Interview with Sanjoe Tom Jose, CEO of Talview

Sanjoe Tom Hose, founder of AI-powered Instahiring platform, Talview, talks about transforming the talent acquisition process for some of the largest global enterprises. Read his take on the effectiveness of video interviewing, the significance of automation in hiring, and how candidate data can be reused across the hiring process to speed up talent acquisition.


Hi Sanjoe! Please tell us about your journey into technology, entrepreneurship, and HR tech. We’d love to know about some of the new features or plans you have for Talview in 2020?

I grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur and have always been fascinated by the possibility of building my own business. Even back in school I was always selling something and finding ways to make some extra pocket money. 

However, after graduating from IIT Bombay, I took up a corporate job. Despite feeling unfulfilled, I stuck at the corporate life because my wife and I were just starting a family, and I had actually received a job offer from Google. But I still couldn’t shift the feeling that I was being held back, so I took the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Just before launching Talview, I had co-founded a company called Interview Masters in the HR tech space. While the business was initially successful, we soon realized that it could not scale to become a large company. We did, however, gain key insights from the experience. While enterprises face a lot of challenges while hiring, we discovered that hiring lag is one of the most critical challenges. Long time-to-hire has a significant impact on a company’s revenue and growth, and influences key hiring metrics like quality of hire, cost of hire, and candidate experience.

To give you an example, the best candidate is available in the market for only 10 days – a fraction of the industry time-to-hire average of 45 days. This drastically limits companies’ ability to hire quality candidates.

With Talview, we wanted to create a platform that would enable enterprises to take control of their recruiting process by reducing time-to-hire. When we looked at the recruitment technology stack at that point in time, the primary piece of technology that was being utilized was the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Oracle has Taleo. SAP has SuccessFactors. Most of these systems came into being 15 to 20 years back when tracking and reporting was the primary functionality. Recruitment was still non-digitized. Hiring largely happened offline and with very little automation.

We wanted to build a layer of digitization on top of the existing applicant tracking system and help enterprises beat the hiring lag. And so, Instahiring Experience was born. Talview is the world’s first Instahiring Experience platform, with a focus to help large enterprises bring down time-to-hire drastically by creating a candidate experience similar to the ones for consumer experience.

Talview’s product roadmap is envisioned to sustain our leadership as the fastest way to hire for enterprises. Driven by the philosophy of Instahiring Experience, we are continuing to invest in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to drive faster hiring and higher-quality candidate experience. 

As a business, we are currently aggressively expanding in the North American and APAC markets. We plan to enter the European market next year, however, we are already working with many European customers including ENEL and ESAM.

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According to your observations, how can tech and B2B companies capitalize on their HR Tech Stack to create a more engaging culture and workforce?

Technology is a critical component across the hire to retire the lifecycle of every company’s workforce. A lot is already being done by traditional HCM systems, but I am excited about the possibilities of leveraging machine intelligence and data to empower the workforce of the future to be their best. 

As the workforce becomes more distributed, remote team members will lack the opportunity to understand what is working and what is not due to reduced face time. For example, feedback that can be derived from facial expressions during conversations and the gratitude that can be expressed with a few words is lacking between remote teams. 

In a very similar way, many businesses don’t have the luxury of spending time or doing reviews with team members in the gig economy. Companies and their employees need to derive more insights from less and this is where technology will play a critical role.

In what ways do you see AI play a role in how HR-Tech and Tools will evolve?

Recruitment is one of the main areas where technology is evolving very fast. AI offers significant benefits when applied in the recruiting process and is bound to become a significant part of every organization’s recruiting strategy sooner or later. 

AI can be leveraged to automate a lot of mundane tasks that today’s recruiters perform, like matching a resume to the job description and scheduling an interview, for example. It enables recruitment teams to become true strategists and candidate experience champions, and ensures that the best candidates join their organizations. 

The key AI tools getting deployed today are:

  1. AI-driven job distribution to optimize RoI for job advertisements 
  2. Automated resume match
  3. AI interviewing
  4. AI-based interview scheduling
  5. Cognitive remote proctoring which leverages computer vision to securely administer online assessments 
  6. Predictive hiring which leverages post-hire performance to make hiring recommendations 

How can firms use HR tech more effectively to help create a continuous talent pipeline? 

Companies spend enormous amounts of money to attract candidates to apply for open positions in their company. Rather than trying to build an independent community, my recommendation is to leverage the Remote, Automate, Engage and Reuse approach which leverages your past hiring pipeline to build a rich talent pool. 

The first pillar, Remote, allows organizations to complete all interviews and assessments remotely through video interviews and video proctored assessments, saving candidates the time, money, and effort spent traveling to and from interviews. But more importantly, this helps them gather as much information as possible which can be used to build information-rich talent pipelines.

The second pillar, Automate, takes care of many of the routine recruitment processes that are currently done manually, such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews. The platform works round the clock so candidates don’t have to wait to hear back from recruiters and their questions are answered immediately. Again, unlike offline processes driven by humans, including automated transactions wherever possible will help the organization to capture a lot more data without manual data entry.

The third pillar, Engage is all about how you drive engagement of candidates who have been part of the hiring process in the past. Monthly newsletters and other form engagement campaigns are critical for this. 

The last pillar, Reuse, is about how to use all the data collected to build talent pipelines. Reusing information makes life easier for both repeat candidates and the recruiters taking them through the process. As all application and interview data is recorded within an organization’s HR systems, when a candidate reapplies to work for an organization, they are fast-forwarded to the relevant stage and don’t have to go through the same assessments and interviews that they have already completed. 

Given the challenges in recruitment, what are the top 5 reasons you’d suggest companies use workflow automation for?

There are a lot of reasons why companies should look at fixing their hiring, but here are my top 5:

Lost Revenue

The biggest impact businesses face due to poor hiring is the loss of revenue. Particularly for revenue-driving roles such as sales and service, the impact is direct and immediate. There are finer attributes to each of these, but the easiest way to get a quick estimate of how much revenue is lost due to positions lying vacant is to divide the company’s total revenue by the number of employees, and divide that by the number of working days per year (220). This will give you the daily lost revenue for each vacant position. 

Project Failure

Project failure is another key impact of vacant positions and goes beyond the direct impact of the roles which are lying vacant. Since project managers (PM) use benchmarks to track performance over the course of a project, the PM can probably estimate the financial impact resulting from staff or skill shortages. If you can’t get specific data from the PM, articulating a general business case may suffice. 

For instance, according to a study by the Project Management Institute, talent deficiencies significantly hamper 40% of strategy implementation efforts. And the average cost of a failed organization project from a business perspective is $10.8 million, according to a survey of executives. In fact, 20% of executives say they increased staffing following a project failure. 

Turnover

What could be worse than people leaving the organization due to long hours of frustration from staff shortages? If attrition is rising during a period of staff shortage, organizations should analyze data from exit interviews to understand the impact, and follow it by an estimate of the total cost of turnover driven by staff shortage. PwC Saratoga calculates the cost of turnover as 1.5 times the projected base salary for departing employees. 

Hiring Manager Productivity

Hiring managers who are running short of people have triple roles – to do their own job, cover the missing job (along with the rest of the team), and trying to hire for the role. However, nobody has unlimited time and energy so all of the additional responsibilities are going to affect the hiring manager’s productivity in their key result areas. The longer it takes, the higher the productivity loss.

Putting up with Poor Performance

Another often unnoticed impact of hiring lag is that line managers often tend to put up with poor performance because of the fear of the time it takes them to get a replacement and the stress that comes along with it. The medium to long term impact of this is, again, project failure or poor company performance.

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How are video interviews helping reduce the time to hire and increase the efficiency of HR teams? How can the hiring process be made more authentic given today’s hiring challenges?

Video interviews and remotely proctored assessments are very efficient saving candidates the time, money, and effort spent traveling to and from interviews. The benefits of using a video interviewing platform that most clients often cite are: 

Reduced Time to Hire

Video interviews help organizations reduce time-to-hire by up to 50%. Invite, schedule, hire – it’s as simple as that!

Enhanced Candidate Experience

Video interviews enable candidates to attend online interviews across the globe, via web or mobile, at their convenience while providing a standardized, consistent experience.

Better Employer Branding

Video interviewing tools allow branding of the platform with banners, videos, color themes, and logos. This way, your organization will be perceived as tech-savvy and candidate-friendly.

Video Logs for Future References and Audits

All the videos are available for future reference. Much in the same way, evaluations, comments are also saved for audits in the future. 

Modernization and Automation

Many video interviewing tools have advanced capabilities to analyze video interviews and generate behavioral profiles and are able to recommend the most relevant set of candidates for the role.

What are your top 3 predictions/trends for HR/HR Tech in 2020?

In 2019 we saw a mixed reaction to the use of technology (especially AI) in more advanced use cases like candidate evaluation, performance management and engagement. However, I strongly believe this is a natural step in the evolution of every technology. There are a lot of investments happening in building ethical AI or AI without bias. Here are my predictions:

  1. AI in HR adoption will move beyond early adopters as more success stories emerge. HR departments that adopt this technology will significantly improve their efficiency and develop a competitive advantage.
  2. Disparate systems can pose problems for enterprises, such as time-consuming, inefficient data entry and reconciliation processes. 2020 will be a year of further consolidation and end to end systems.
  3. Remote teams will be the new norms and new tools which enable organizations better engage this workforce will emerge

What is the best recruitment/leadership/sales advice you have ever received?

When you are passionate about your work, it is easy for you to not appreciate all the progress you have made and your achievements along the way – and rather obsess about what you couldn’t do. Someone once taught me the importance of taking a pause occasionally to acknowledge your own success and appreciate people who have contributed to it.

Tag (or mention/write about) one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

I would love to read the answers of Vivek Ravishankar, CEO of Hackerrank to these questions.

Any parting thoughts that you’d like to share? It could be on anything, a motivational tip, work-life balance, etc.

Understanding and appreciating the evolution of human beings and our societies has helped me to be a better human being and understand others’ perspectives better. It also helps you to take care of yourself and people who are close to you better, both physically and emotionally.

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Talview Logo

Talview is the fastest way to hire for enterprise employers across the globe. Its AI led Insta-hiring Platform makes this possible through a combination of three techniques- automation of routine tasks, enabling anytime-anywhere processes and capturing & reusing data across the hiring process.

With its unique approach, Talview is transforming the talent acquisition process for some of the largest organizations across the globe and getting them equipped to excel in the emerging gig economy. Headquartered in Palo Alto,US, Talview has offices in India, Singapore, and Atlanta, US.

Sanjoe Tom Jose is one of the prominent thought leaders in the HR Tech space and the founder & CEO of Talview. He is passionate about building technologies that make talent management at organizations more effective and efficient. Some of his innovations include AI-Powered Behavioral Insights and world’s first Cognitive Proctoring platform. Currently, he is creating a new HR Tech category called Instahiring Experience platform, which aimed at beating Hiring Lag with the use of Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, and Automation technologies.

A serial entrepreneur, Sanjoe founded Talview in 2017, and has been driving its vision and strategy since its inception. He is an author and well-known keynote speaker in the areas of AI, Startups and HR Technology. He has spoken at various international forums like Microsoft Industry Days, IBM Business Connect, StartupBridge, SEAAGE, PeopleMatters etc and featured in leading podcasts and magazines.