Written by Nathan Hewitt

High volume hiring? Here’s why smart-touch hiring is better than high-touch

The secret to securing great talent is a first-rate candidate experience. If you have been in any way entangled in the aftermath of 2021’s Great Resignation, you know that even an attractive remuneration package, with compelling benefits, is not enough: Now, more than ever, prospective hires will want to see the best of your organisation, and that includes the best of you. You must be fast, decisive, and flexible, from the point of first contact.

This is a problem amplified by scale. If you’re responsible for hiring 100,000 employees per year, for instance, you may find you are required to provide a top-notch candidate experience for that many prospects. You could decide that it is better to do things the old fashioned way, but it is more and more likely that, in doing so, you will miss out on great talent. The cost of such losses is best avoided.

Automation, be it through an assessment tool, conversational Ai platform, or Applicant Tracking System (ATS), is the simple key to solving volume hiring in a chaotic market. However, understandably, many high-volume hiring managers tend to think that automation comes at the cost of personalisation and human contact. If, for instance, you’re processing 5,000 prospects to fit 300 job openings, how do you ensure your candidates are met with the high-touch journey they expect? Is an automated Ai conversation, in the minds of candidates, not just as impersonal as older methods of qualification?

What ‘high-touch’ actually means, and its purpose

On the face of it, ‘high-touch’ implies an emphasis on person-to-person, face-to-face contact in your hiring process. If you can see your candidates, if you can greet them warmly and exalt your free-breakfast policy, you can make them feel special. Sending an email or a link to a form is impersonal, outmoded, and risks alienating the people you want to attract. 

What if, instead, high-touch is a stand-in for meaningful contact, instead of lots of contact? What if you could conduct a smooth, quick, and painless interview process that:

  • Asked the best from candidates, and allowed them to provide thoughtful responses in their own time
  • Explored the human aspects of their personality, and not just the line items on their CV
  • Ignored, by design, the aspects of candidates prone to bias (such as appearance, ethnicity, age, and so on)

Is that not more effective than a by-the-book interview in which you smiled a lot, engaged in forgettable small talk, and discussed a laundry list of perks?

Woolworths, Australia’s largest private employer, adopted the smart-touch automated hiring approach, and won handsomely for it. They used our Chat Interview (chat-based) and Video Interview (video-based) solutions to assess nearly 9,000 candidates, achieving a candidate satisfaction score of 9.2 out of 10. We saved the hiring team time and money, helped give each of their candidates the fairest possible go, and best of all, helped them achieve their hiring targets. 

Woolworths wanted the equivalent of a high-touch candidate experience, and judging by these candidate testimonials, they certainly got it:

“The chat makes you feel like you’re in a safe space – it gives everyone an equal opportunity instead of an in person interview as people can get extremely nervous”.

“I found the process to be reflective and I liked how they wanted to know about me”.

“Everything was amazing! By far the best interview system I’ve encountered! It allowed me to be comfortable and be myself, it really allowed me to take my time with my responses rather than stutter over my words”.

“It was great. I like the potential to retake videos and how quick you’ve responded”.

There you have it: That is how a small hiring team can process nearly 10,000 candidates, using conversational Ai, and offer a truly high-touch candidate experience. But the benefits don’t stop there.

With a smart-touch automation solution, Talent Analytics can heighten your touch

When you entrust your hiring process to Smart Interviewer, our smart interviewer, you automate the process of meaningful data collection. That data is then transformed into actionable insights that help you improve your hiring processes. With TalentInsights, you could learn:

  • Your average time to hire
  • Estimated time saving in hours (incidentally, we’ve helped our customers save a total of 530,000 hours that would have been spent in cumbersome, high-touch interviews)
  • The quality of your candidate pool overall, or by gender
  • Overall candidate engagement scores

And much more. Suddenly, you have the numbers to back your wider hiring strategies, be they focussed on DEI, or fairness, or another goal. You can show your business that you are making real, quantifiable strides, and leading the way in efficiency and social responsibility.

The appetite for good, actionable data in HR is higher than it has ever been. Hiring managers are waking fast to the realities of the Great Resignation – that we just don’t know as much as we should about what constitutes good talent and candidate experience. In other words: We don’t really know why people are leaving, and we don’t really know why they do or don’t choose us in the first place.

According to a recent study by Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, only 50% of the companies that invest in Talent Analytics actually trust the source of their data. When you consider that around 80 million American workers are hourly workers, one of the hardest-to-recruit employment segments of the moment, it becomes clear that the need for useful data is absolutely critical. 

What approach will you take? What kind of experience will you provide your candidates, before and after hiring? What kind of data will guide your decisions? Remember: The choice to do nothing is still a choice, and it has an indeterminate cost.


Sapia is an AIconics Awards Finalist: “AI for Good”

Sapia is recognised as an Alconics Awards finalist in the ‘AI for Good’ category.

It’s AI that gives every candidate a fair chance of landing their dream job and gives candidates something of value back.

The AIconics Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of individuals, projects, teams and their organizations that are responsible for breakthrough innovations in the Artificial Intelligence for Business space.

These prestigious global awards create the ultimate showcase for the best and brightest people, projects and transformational innovations. The AIconics acknowledges the advances in technologies and disciplines being made, as we explore and push at the very definition of what can be accomplished by AI.

The AIconic Awards are being announced on 9th December 2020.


Artificial Intelligence has the potential to help overcome humanity’s biggest challenges, there are a huge number of applications where AI will not only deliver value for businesses but also improve the world itself. This award applauds companies for utilising AI as a positive force for change; the innovations in research and product development that work to create a more sustainable and accessible world; and the AI pioneers that hold the values of leveraging AI for good at their core.


Why is Sapia a finalist in the “AI for Good” category?

Sapia’s Chat Interview gives every candidate a fair chance of landing their dream job.

Have you ever met a recruiter that is totally free from bias and discrimination, and truly embraces diversity and inclusion, and is fair and equitable for everyone? You have now! 

The interviews are a true blind assessment. This is the first step in the hiring process for organisations championing a positive culture change to realise their goals of embracing inclusion and celebrating diversity.

Ai is used to hire with heart. It’s making recruitment ‘human’ again. 

Applying for a job is notoriously a heart-wrenching and time-consuming experience. Right now, during C-19 times, the hardest job in the world is applying for a job. 

Organisations partner with Sapia to help them hire with heart. From the job advert candidates access a link to access their interview.

This means EVERY candidate gets an interview. The basic right of fairness and equality is available to every candidate, every time. 

It takes around 15-20 minutes to answer 5-7 questions. After that, candidates receive their personalised coaching tips. This means EVERY candidate also gets something of value back, something that motivates them and teaches something about themselves they didn’t know. A candidate experience that helps them get this job or the next job or just makes them feel good. 

For these reasons, candidate satisfaction is 99%.

Hiring with heart is good for business.

65% of candidates with a positive experience would be a customer again, even if they were not hired and 81% will share their positive experience with family, friends and peers. 

As consumers, we buy products while sitting on our computer or scrolling through our phone. Texting, messaging – it’s what we all do every day. To be candidate-centric means connecting with candidates the way they connect every day. The long-term payback to customers and employer brand is substantial and enduring. 

In the short-term AI can assess 100,000 people in 6 hours compared to what it would take a team of recruiters 476 days to do. It’s 600 times faster and 3 x cheaper.

No recruiter or team of recruiters can ever come close to the kind of efficiency of a smart AI system.


Using AI to augment decision making is fast becoming mainstream.

It certainly helps to reduce the impact of unconscious bias in hiring decisions. Testing for bias and removing it from algorithms is possible. Whereas for humans, it’s not.

 Bias can be removed with the right data. Algorithms and Ai learn according to the profile of the data we feed it. If the data it learns from is taken from a CV, it’s only going to amplify our existing biases. Only clean data, like the answers to specific job-related questions, can give us a true bias-free outcome.

We continuously test the data so that if ever the slightest bias is found, it can be corrected. These include all assumed biases that can be added to a suite of tests. Examples of tests include: Proportional Parity Test, Score Distribution Test and Fairness Test

Candidates say:

  • 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.
  • I love the personal feeling … It creates a safe environment to write freely and honestly.
  • I don’t know how you gathered such accurate information about my personality from my responses.
  • I feel that I’ve had a supportive counselling session. You know me so well!!
  • This is amazingly accurate that I can’t even begin to express, I’m in tears!!
  • It is fascinating how much our choice of words, our expressions, reveal about us.


Have you seen the Inclusive e-Book?

It offers a pathway to fairer hiring in 2021.

Get diversity and inclusion right whilst hiring on time and on budget.

In this Inclusivity e-Book, you’ll learn: 

  • How to design an inclusive recruitment path. From discovery to offer and validation of the process.
  • The hidden inclusion challenges that are holding your organisation back.
  • How to tell if Ai technology is ethical.

Download Inclusivity Hiring e-Book Here >

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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. 

Join the movement

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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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How you can get 9/10 candidate satisfaction from a video interview

Competition for candidates today is fierce. COVID, border closures, BREXIT, the last two years have created a global candidate shortage that’s hitting large organisations hard. 

That’s why in today’s market, candidate experience is king. The consistent theme in all of my conversations with CHROs globally is how to improve candidate experience and get an edge on the competition.

However, the bottom line is ever present, especially in industries that are now in recovery mode. How can recruitment teams and hiring managers be expected to deliver a world-class, personalised and interactive candidate experience when they’re already stretched too thin?

The answer lies in human-centred technology with an experience that makes candidates feel valued and heard, while automating the components of the process that suck time out of your team’s day and extend the time to offer, losing candidates in the process.

Why Australia’s largest private employer turned to automation 

With close to 1 million candidates annually, and a video interview experience that was sub-par for candidates and frustrating for hiring managers, Woolworths needed to drastically re-imagine their recruitment experience, making it more efficient and engaging.

How Sapia re-invigorated and streamlined Woolworth’s recruitment process

With a completely automated interview process, every retail candidate is interviewed by Smart Interviewer with Sapia’s Chat Interview chat. The automatically shortlisted candidates progress directly to VideoInterview – a chat based video interview that is reviewed by hiring managers who can then move straight to offer. It’s a seamless process that’s designed to be fair and human-centred. 

The results are simply fantastic 

Candidate satisfaction has blown the team away – 9.2/10 for FirstInterview and an unprecedented 9.0/10 for VideoInterview. Yes, you read that right – 9/10 for a video interview, from almost 9,000 candidates. 

Completion rates for the video interview are above 75%, showing that candidates are happy to engage with a video interview that’s mobile-friendly, interactive and frankly, just works. Almost 50% of candidates complete both interviews on their mobile, making it easy for candidates to interview literally anytime, anywhere. 

Here’s what Woolworths candidates had to say about their VideoInterview experience: 

“The chat makes you feel like you’re in a safe space – it gives everyone an equal opportunity instead of in person interview as people can get extremely nervous”

“I found the process to be reflective and I liked how they wanted to know about me”

“everything was amazing! by far the best interview system i’ve encountered!  it allowed me be comfortable and be myself, it really allowed me to take my time with my responses rather than stutter over my words”

“It was great. I like the potential to retake videos and how quick you’ve responded. ”

“I felt really calm during this interview. Which I definitely would not be in physical interviews. I was able to really sort out my thoughts and express myself to the fullest.  I really love this format of interviewing !”

Automating the end to end experience has given time back to extremely time-poor hiring managers, who no longer need to manage shortlisting or scheduling and can simply review the video responses of the top candidates as they come in. Smart Interviewer has video interviewed almost 9,000 candidates, 

In some cases, candidates have moved from ad to offer in 24 hours – giving Woolworths an edge as they can move quickly to capture candidates who otherwise might have accepted offers elsewhere. 

If you’d like to have a candidate experience as good as Woolworths, get in touch here for a product demo

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