Written by Nathan Hewitt

Time for HR to level up

Now is the time for HR to Level Up on Ai literacy 

2020 sucked. For everyone. We were all totally unprepared and many of us just got through it. Yes, it dispelled that long-held myth that ‘I need to see you to trust you are doing the work’ but flexibility is only fabulous when you aren’t surrounded by kids at home 24/7 or under lockdown in a global pandemic. What will 2021 bring and can we be better prepared?

With two massive workforce movements in one year – the forced move to distributed work (we prefer this term to remote work), and Black Lives Matter, HR has to get better prepared in its understanding of the human impact of technology in use, especially Ai.

The innate power of Ai is to uncover patterns in large volumes of data and the data-driven thinking that comes with the adoption of Ai in your processes can challenge human decision making. This is not a bad thing because it allows us to interrupt unconscious biases we inherit thanks to our evolutionary hard-wiring.

Whilst HR technology has evolved, there are many pseudoscientific claims around Ai – almost more than there are genuinely scientifically backed claims. Using the wrong Ai-technology creates a huge legal risk and brand risk for companies, for which HR is ultimately responsible.  Now is the time for HR to step up and educate themselves about which technology is genuinely innovative and moves humanity forward.

The bar must be held high when you are making life-changing decisions on the basis of data.

The work that HR needs to do is:

  • Self-education
  • Self-regulation
  • Use thorough impact assessments looking at the holistic candidate experience, not just the algorithmic components overseen by a joint team comprising HR, legal and cybersecurity
  • Create a guiding framework for making the right decision

The team that needs to do the work ought to be cross-functional including  HR, legal and cybersecurity.

To help HR leaders make smart decisions about these new Ai technologies, we are making available our FAIR™ Framework, a set of measures and guidelines to make sure that both candidates and hiring managers can trust the Ai tools that they use.

Understanding FAIR™ – Fair Ai for Recruitment

Go here to download >

A global standard for the responsible use of Ai in recruitment.

Ai can deliver powerful and better outcomes for recruiters and candidates, but we must ensure that all recruiting Ai is fair.

For hiring managers and organisations, this guide provides an assurance as well as a template to query fairness related metrics of Ai recruitment tools.

For candidates, FAIR™ ensures that they are using a system built with fairness as a key performance metric. This set of guidelines helps HR leaders make smart decisions so they can trust the Ai tools that they use. Here’s the FAIR Framework >


Want to know how to win the war for talent?

As economies reignite after lockdowns, a new crisis is emerging–talent is scarcer than ever. 

In Australia recently, job advertiser SEEK reported the highest no of jobs ads ever in 23 years, but significantly low numbers of applications per role. In the US, manufacturers are having trouble hiring entry-level positions that do not require expertise and many fear this could have far-reaching consequences. In the UK, Britain’s employers are struggling to hire staff as lockdown lifts amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.

There is an urgency for recruiters to prepare for this, yesterday.

There are three things you will need to do if you want to win this war on talent.

  1. There is a need for speed. You need to be able to hire fast, to win the best people.
  2. You need to put candidates first. You have to treat everyone like they are your next hire. Every interaction with a candidate matters to ensure your brand stands out among job seekers. 
  3. Finding undiscovered talent. You need the ability to look beyond the standard candidate profile and find people who might not have fit the traditional mould, but who can excel in the job.

Forget traditional hiring practices like screening hundreds of CVs (timely and ineffective) and doing face-to-face interviews or video interviews (limited in their insights and proven to be biased) as they do little to uncover new talent or understand the potential of someone to perform in a job. 

There is only one solution that makes these things possible that is to use the right technology. One you can implement and benefit from today. One that is driven by Ai.

The right Ai is the only way you can be competitive in the current market.

  1. Ai that helps you conduct thousands of interviews in an hour.
  2. Ai that puts candidates first with a simple and inclusive interview, and gets back to everyone with personalised feedback.
  3. Ai that looks at job fit to help you accurately identify undiscovered talent, without any regard to their past experience, education, age, gender, socio-economic standing, ethnicity or any other factor we might have used to exclude great candidates.

It’s a simple decision really. Imagine instead of entrusting one recruiter or even a team of recruiters to find potential in your candidate pool, you had access to the brain’s trust of an army of thousands of experienced recruiters with the touch of a button. 

This brain’s trust has more interview experience than anyone on your team would ever get. 800k interviews and counting. 

It can do interviews every 2 minutes, in 34 countries around the globe. This amount of experience means they have the ability to quickly see potential where the rest of the team can’t.  

No single recruiter, or for that matter, a reasonable team of recruiters will ever get that experience in a lifetime.

But Ai can, within hours. 

With Sapia the technology you implement today is your competitive advantage today.


Ever wondered if technology can give everyone a fair go when it comes to hiring? Get our latest report: Hiring for Equality.

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How to make 1.2m rejected candidates still love your brand

This year, we have helped more than 60,000 people get a job. From retail assistants, graduates entering the workforce for the first time, sales professionals, team leaders and cabin crew, to name just a few. We have supported recruiters across various industries and roles to find the right people to join their organisations.

Yet, for every successful candidate we helped, there were 21 unsuccessful ones. Recruiters do a lot more rejecting than hiring, which begs the question of how good the typical recruitment function is at dealing with unsuccessful candidates. And what the consequences are of not getting it right?

Anecdotally, there are plenty of stories of candidates getting ghosted, dragged through onerous processes, subjected to poorly conducted interviews, or participating in questionable assessment practices. Many of us have experienced lousy recruitment firsthand, or someone close to us has, but when we look at the data it gives credence to these anecdotal experiences.

Starred, a candidate experience benchmarking firm, use Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS)* to measure the quality of the candidate experience across several touch points during the recruitment process. Not surprisingly, the cNPS for rejected candidates is -15, meaning that rejected candidates have formed a significant negative view of the company and will likely  detract friends and family from applying with the organisation.

Social media amplifies the consequences of providing a negative experience. A separate study by the Talent Board across 240 companies and 183,000 candidates found that disgruntled candidates will broadcast their negative experience 34% of the time.

Disgruntled candidates impact the brand reputation and the bottom line. Virgin Media recently quantified the cost of poor candidate experience, estimating that across 123,000 rejected candidates every year, if 6% cancel their monthly subscription, then about US$5.4 million in revenue is lost. 

When a recruitment provides a poor experience, they are creating customers for competitors. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Candidates with a positive experience can be one of the most potent tools in building a positive brand and presence in the marketplace.  According to Talent Board, 64% of candidates with a positive experience will expand their relationship with the brand, even if they didn’t get the job. 

What are the hallmarks of a process that consistently delivers a great candidate experience? 

Communication is right up there. Timely and accurate communication with candidates every step of the way. When we look at the feedback candidates provide us, a major theme around the importance of communication emerges. Not surprisingly, candidates appreciate NOT being ghosted. And they also appreciate being given honest and constructive feedback immediately following their interview.

Sapia and it’s blind smart interview

Also important is convenience. Sapia’s chat-based interview format allows candidates to conduct the interview at a time and place where they feel they can be at their best. It is fast, easy and safe.

And finally, candidates need to trust that the process is giving them a fair go. In a recent experiment conducted by Monash University, using Sapia’s chat-based interview platform, female candidates were more likely to continue with the application process when told that the interview will be with AI rather than a human. Using an AI process, such as what Sapia provides, offers a unique opportunity to put the candidate at the centre. And it not only results in better experiences for candidates. Recruiters also benefit by spending less time on administrative tasks and more time building relationships with candidates.

So while we helped more than 60,000 people get a job and are proud of contributing in that way, we are equally as proud of the fact that for the 1.2 million candidates that didn’t get the job, we were able to provide a positive experience for more than 60% of them. This translates into a cNPS of 58, well above the -15 cNPS reported by Starred for unsuccessful candidates.

And we did that by giving everybody an equal opportunity to be at their best during the recruitment process, providing everybody with useful insights straight after their interview, and freeing up recruiters to spend more time with candidates.

*cNPS is the % of advocates less the % of detractors. A positive value indicates more advocates than detractors.

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COVID career anxiety is creating hiring bias!

We know that the global pandemic has caused a disruption in global workforces. Much has already been said about the Great Resignation, and how it has morphed into the Great Reshuffle, a period in which many are looking to reinvent themselves in the light of new jobs and careers. No industries or role types have been spared, either, it seems – even recruiters are leaving positions in the tens of thousands.

With a reshuffle, however, comes uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety. The war on talent may have benefited some, but the path to career reinvention is by no means guaranteed. Consider the following factors, factors job-hunters must face every day:

  • Bias in recruitment. According to a recent survey, 65% of tech recruiters believe their hiring process is biased. You may not get a fair shake, and you may not ever know why.
  • Ghosting. According to CandE research, In 2020, 33% of candidates in North America who completed job applications had still not received a response more than two months later.
  • Unfair competition. 78% of people admit to misrepresenting themselves on their resume.
  • Threats to longevity and progression. According to Harvard Business Review, almost two thirds of the tasks that a manager currently does may be automated by as soon as 2025.
  • Changes to the very nature of work. Noted future-of-work columnist Dror Poleg said it best: “It is not just where or when we work that is changing; it is the nature of work itself. For a growing number of people, work is becoming indistinguishable from leisure. In some cases, the workers don’t even know they are working. In others, workers think they are working while they are, in fact, resting. In the emerging world of work, video gamers are getting paid to play games, and fans are paid to listen to music.”

It’s little wonder that some Great Reshufflers, especially emerging adults (ages 18-24), are experiencing anxiety about working in the post-COVID world. Instability is the only constant. Consider, too, that some people are better at dealing with uncertainty – or, in technical terms, they are higher-than-average in the HEXACO personality traits Flexibility (or Adaptability, as it’s sometimes known).

This hypothesis is supported by at least one study, published last year in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. It suggested that, “…due to the outbreak of ‘Fear of COVID-19’, people are becoming depressed and anxious about their future career, which is creating a long-term negative effect on human psychology.”

How this translates to good (or not-so-good) candidate experience

The traditional face-to-face interview is typified by stilted small talk and a general air of nervousness. If a candidate is low in Extraversion, high in Agreeableness, or high in the Anxiety and Fearfulness scales of the Emotionality personality domain, their experience of walking into a blind interview is likely to be worsened by the additional stressors left by COVID-19. 

Consider, as is likely to be the case, that the candidate might possess a combination of all three traits, in the proportions laid out above. These people, especially if they are young, may not even bother to apply for a job in today’s climate. 

The ramifications of this are obvious: You risk, at best, filling your workforce with open, disagreeable, type-A employees. At worst, you risk baking unfairnesses or bias into your recruitment process, at the cost of good candidates who don’t shine in awkward face-to-face situations.

How good candidate experience data, and talent analytics, can help you ease gender biases at the top of your hiring funnel

Take this small data visualisation from our TalentInsights dashboard as a key example. Please note here that the following results apply to the outcomes of the hiring process, and not Smart Interviewer’s recommendations.

HEXACO personality data in recruitment | Sapia recruitment Ai software

It presents an assessment of candidate hiring outcomes according to key HEXACO personality traits. The red dots represent female candidates, the blue dots male. Immediately, we can see that when it comes to Conscientiousness – one of the best predictors of workplace success – females and males are more or less identical.

The main differences between the two genders occur, however, in the domains of Agreeableness and Emotionality. Combined, these two traits are good predictors of anxiety and/or aversion to fear. As you can see, females tend to be higher in Agreeableness and Emotionality than males. 

Though the difference is not incredibly significant, it is still present – and it may require a slight change to the way you bring female candidates into your hiring process. The data proves, of course, that your best candidates are just as likely to be female as male – but your recruitment tactics may be producing outcomes that favour males.

How to account for fear, anxiety, and Agreeableness in your recruitment process

We’ve said it before, and it’s the whole reason we exist: A blind, text-based Chat Interview with a clever, machine-learning Ai. Smart Interviewer is our smart interviewer, and it has now analysed more than 500 million candidate words to arrive at the kinds of data points you see above. It helps you combat bias at the top of your funnel, and gives you the Talent Analytics you need at the bottom.

And it works. Take it from the candidates high in Agreeableness:

“I have never had an interview like this online in my life… able to speak without fear or judgement. The feedback is also great to reflect on. I feel this is a great way to interview people as it helps an individual to be themselves and at the same time the responses back to me are written with a good sense of understanding and compassion also. I don’t know if it is a human or a robot answering me, but if it is a robot then technology is quite amazing.”

– Graduate Candidate A

“[It was] approachable, rather than daunting. I found the process to be comprehensive and easy to complete. I also enjoyed that the range of questions were different than those commonly asked. The visual aspects of the survey makes the task seem approachable rather than daunting and thus easier to complete.”

– Graduate Candidate B

The future of work is uncertain. But with a fair and unbiased assessment tool, you can prevent the best talent from being lost under the dust of the Great Reshuffle – and save a lot of time and money doing it.

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