Written by Nathan Hewitt

AI hiring innovation helps volume recruiters in crisis

For any business with volumes in the thousands and hiring in single-digit %, automating screening and assessment is something they have no choice but to do.

Using AI in recruitment has also become much more mainstream. With research validating the positive impact, these tools can have on your EVP.

But, HR also is now responsible for what is now the most critical problem to solve – how to interrupt bias.  So, let’s consider the stats on how HR has dealt with the limitation of non-contactable hiring in the first half of this year.

Video platforms are going off. Which only makes things worse given that video is a petri dish for bias.

Blind screening is the only way to truly interrupt bias. That’s what a chat interview offers.

It’s often thought that blind screening means you can’t track the bias, but that’s not the case.

Smart reporting can show you where the bias is:

  • Which team
  • What manager
  • The location

Any good HR person will tell you the easiest way to check for bias is to look at the hired profile vs. the applicant profile. We do this, not by asking the candidate for this information.

You can see the bias by using an external service like NamSor to derive ethnicity and gender from candidate names for reporting and testing. Forensically. You can make your leaders accountable for that bias.

How can you not have this…

AI allows you to see things you can’t. You can process all of that information. Giving you, the hiring manager an immeasurable advantage in your decision-making.

Using AI to screen people has to be motivated by more than efficiency. Whilst no one’s time is served well by screening thousands of CVs, 100% blind screening for hiring and promotion makes business sense. And it’s the right thing to do.

It’s giving everyone a fair go. Democratizing opportunity in a world of structural inequality.

It’s maddening how that aspect of AI vs. human screening often gets neglected when evaluating the merits of the technology by the media.

In Australia, the indigenous community represents 3% of the population, yet they are nowhere close to that representation in leadership roles. Being a job seeker in today’s environment is incredibly hard.

Being a member of a minority group and being a job seeker in today’s environment is way more challenging. Imagine if the way you hired and promoted made it easier and fairer for those groups.

Easier because you don’t need to sit in front of a video for judgment.

Fairer, because the only thing that matters is who you are. Not what you are.

Barb Hyman, 11/08/2020


At Sapia, we pride ourselves on helping organizations reduce bias at the top of the recruitment funnel through an online interview process that is fair and equitable for everyone. We’re passionate about giving everyone a fair chance and giving organizations the tools to realize their goals of true diversity and inclusion in the hiring process. While we can’t control for bias within the organization, we can manage bias at the start of the recruitment process, and work with organizations to raise awareness of bias through the employee lifecycle. 

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Businesses need to stop ghosting when recruiting

To find out how to improve candidate experience using Recruitment Automation, we also have a great eBook on candidate experience.

There is no doubt that older Australians have been hit hardest by the health impacts of COVID-19, but it is, by far, the younger generations that will bear the economic brunt. According to official figures, there are almost 360,000 fewer jobs than there were 12 months ago, and approximately 937,400 Australians are currently looking for work.

But, with more than 1,500,000 people on JobSeeker benefits (due to end in March), those unemployment numbers are likely to skyrocket in the next few months. And the majority of these people are under 35.

Government initiatives such as the JobMaker scheme and JobTrainer fund will of course help, but so much more needs to be done to support our young people through this difficult period.

Scaffolding for these initiatives that will determine their success is missing. And it needs to be implemented from the moment our young people begin thinking about their working future.

Barb Hyman, CEO Sapia

In my experience, career counselling is almost non-existent in many schools. Without a tailored, thoughtful approach to this, how can teenagers begin their careers well?

I’m not suggesting school counsellors are doing a poor job, but that they can do a better one with the aid of technology.

The next step of the career ladder is wobbly at best.

The interview process, whether it be for part-time school and uni jobs or for full-time employment, is one that discriminates against young people and, in many cases, shatters self-worth.

I am hearing stories from many parents of big and small companies alike ghosting when recruiting! For those not familiar with the term, it means, usually once an interview has finished, the interviewee never hears from the company or potential employer again.

No reasons are given as to why the candidate wasn’t successful, no suggestions as to how they could do better next time, no feedback at all, and no closure. This a bleak situation indeed and can be incredibly damaging for those starting out.

How has this situation evolved?

Is it fear of confrontation or lack of care or empathy?

Why can’t we tell an unsuccessful candidate where they can improve, to set them up for success, instead of leaving them guessing?

What I do know is that technology, particularly artificial intelligence, can play an important role here.

It can ensure that unconscious bias (often directed at young people) is not part of the recruitment process.

It can provide valuable feedback and identify candidate strengths and weaknesses which is hugely valuable to employers and employees.

And it can free humans to do the jobs that AI still can’t. We owe it to our young people to provide them with the kind support and mentoring that will help them become the future leaders that our country deserves.

This cannot happen without a commitment from the public and private sectors. Governments need to provide more than just funding. Business needs to provide more than just a rejection email. Taking the time to treat our young people with respect and provide them with feedback and answers is such a small ask. It is the most basic of human interactions and the return on investment for society will be enormous.

Technology can aid us with this process but humans need to be the driving force behind it.

Source: Barbara Hyman, Smart Company, January 21, 2021

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The changing role of the Organisational Psychologist

The Workforce Science team are on the road again!

This time, we are heading to Sydney to host a session at APS’s 12th Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference (IOP).

IOP is Australia’s premier conference for us organisational psychologists, so it has a permanent spot in our calendars. And this year, we got extra excited when the conference was announced.


The theme of the conference is set to;
‘From Ideas to Implementation: Embracing the Challenges of Tomorrow’.

With a theme this relevant to our day-to-day work, we couldn’t stop ourselves from hosting a professional practice forum. The forum’s theme is what Elliot and I spend most of our time thinking about; the robots that are coming for our jobs!

It is crystal clear that there is a real need to discuss how our roles will change in the (not so distant) future.

Leading researchers from Oxford University and Deloitte estimate that machines could replace up to 35% of all job types within the next 20 years. So, we will need to find ways to coexist and work with the machines. But how?

In the forum, we will discuss our view on how the role of organisational psychologists will evolve. We will also present our thoughts on how this shift will impact us, both negative and positive aspects.

If you are attending IOP, feel free to come along and add to the discussion!

Our presentation – “The robots are coming (to help us with hiring) for our jobs” – is scheduled for Thursday 14th July at 3.30pm.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges we face, as implementation of AI gets more widely adopted.

If you’re not attending the conference, but still would like to discuss this, don’t hesitate to drop us a line on LinkedIn (Elliot Wood/Kristina Dorniak-Wall). Elliot and I are always keen to chat about it!

Hope to see you at IOP!

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An Unlikely Recruit

A few weeks ago, I confessed my imposter syndrome on social media. That I was, and still am, the least likely candidate to run an Ai tech company. I am a former CHRO, I am female, I am neither an engineer nor a data scientist. I also have no sales experience, and yet I find myself spending 80% of my time in sales (although we don’t call it that of course).

When I was Head of HR at BCG back in the noughties, the firm was going through a growth period. Due to the way teams were sold into engagements, having senior people who could execute on complex change programs in areas that were quite new to the firm (digital, etc), meant looking externally for ‘lateral’ hires.

These were people who could be trusted to uphold and amplify the firm’s strong values and bring much-needed expertise by virtue of their seniority and transferable skills. It was hard.

‘Organ rejection’ is a term I learned in my next gig, as CHRO at the then-largest digital company in Australia, the REA Group. Organ rejection is what happens when a lateral hire fails miserably – for both parties.

So, here I am 2.5 years into my current role. The one I feel professionally ill-qualified for when I realize I’m a lateral hire. But despite my self-doubt, there hasn’t been any ‘organ rejection’.

When I reflect on my life and the things that mean I might (there’s that imposter syndrome again) make a great CEO, I realize that so much of what I bring to this job is what I experienced outside of education. Born out of a need to be resilient from a young age, and a bit of serendipity.


In 1980, when I was 10, my family immigrated from Zimbabwe to Perth, Australia. We arrived, a family of six, with little else than each other. Anyone who’s done it knows the uncertainty of immigration. Most of us do it to risk a better life knowing very little beyond what is a glossy brochure-like version of the new land we are sailing to. It wasn’t as easy as we had been sold, but we survived and adapted to our new home country.

At 18, I moved to Melbourne from Perth to study my undergrad. Not because I wanted to make a bold move again, but because I wanted to get as far away as possible from my stepmother. My mother had tragically died at a very young age a few years after we immigrated and my dad remarried within 10 months.

I took law as my undergrad because a friend a year ahead of me was doing it and she seemed to like it. I then took a wild punt on doing an MBA and managed to get a full scholarship. Which meant I could take my time to figure out what exactly I would do with an MBA.

Fast forward three kids, and a divorce in the middle. I decided I needed to be in a creative environment. So I took an executive role in the arts knowing nothing about the two areas I was responsible for nor the sector.


I accepted an opportunity to be Deputy Chair on a board because someone believed in me. Not because I had a grand plan to build a portfolio career. I’ve never planned my life really, but I have often taken a punt. After all, I found my home by knocking on the front door because I just loved the look of it from the outside and thought ‘what the heck?”

I landed in this job because a close friend recommended me. I found the whole idea of figuring out how you find the best lateral talent so fascinating – without realizing until right now, I was a good example of just that.

I’d say that very little of my formal qualifications and work experience has really equipped me for the rough and tumble of being the CEO of a startup. The sheer unknown of building a new product in an emerging market, and the stress of checking the bank balance daily to make sure we can make this month’s payroll.

Most of what got me here came from the lessons I learned away from the workplace. From immigrating, losing a parent when I was young, leaving a city that I knew well on my own, learning to follow my whims, take chances, and constantly look for meaning.

None of that makes it onto my CV.

My mission is to make those things matter the most when it comes to finding the right people for the right job. I’m also making peace with my imposter syndrome by accepting that it’s the different perspective that I bring to the table that makes my contribution so unique.

I’d go so far as to say we should all hire “industry imposters” if we can. And I’m here to help you find them.

Barbara Hyman, 03/08/2020


Join the movement

To keep up to date on all things “Hiring with Ai” subscribe to our blog!

You can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now, or leave us your details here to get a personalised demo.

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