Written by Nathan Hewitt

30 days? 3 days? Nup, 3 minutes! Time-to-fill metrics, reset.

Has the time it takes to fill a role genuinely improved?

I think back to my days as a recruiter, you filled jobs by posting adverts. That was 15 years ago. The saying was: “Post and pray” because you never knew what would come back.

The average time to fill a role, as we advised the business, was 30 days.

Even then, there was flexibility on that because of the ‘war on talent’. It was hard to find people. Skilled people. The ‘right’ talent. When we needed to find talent fast than from time-to-time, we would engage a 3rd party recruiting agency to help us. However, that was costly.

So, even with the proper sourcing tools in hand – the business just needed to wait. Here were the reasons that recruiters gave for not delivering quickly: 

  • We’ve had a really low response rate 
  • The calibre of applications aren’t quite right 
  • Our salaries aren’t fitting with what the market demands

Sound familiar?

Reasons, and perhaps excuses. And the business just had to wait. 

Fast forward 15 years, and from my observations, we are still seeing similar time-to-fill projections. 

According to a Job Vite – time to fill remains anywhere between 25 (retail) or 48 (hospitality) days (when I read this, I nearly fell off my chair!). This is surprising since technology has come such a long way since then. 

Why are hiring managers waiting this long for these high-volume skills? And the wait will undoubtedly be increased due to the volumes of applications – thanks to C-19. What is the cost associated with waiting? A straightforward formula I found published by Hudson (for non-revenue generating employees) is: 

(Total Company Annual Revenue) ÷ (Number of Employees) ÷ 365 = Daily Lost Revenue

Here’s a working example. Let’s take a retailer. They generate 2.9 billion in revenues and have 11,000 employees. This means that their daily lost revenue PER vacant position is $722. 

If it takes 25 days to fill this position, then it costs the business $18,057 in lost revenue. The time it is taking to fill roles is costing the business too much.  Speed is of the essence.

Volume recruiting and time-to-fill considerations:

I’ve observed talent teams who recruit in high volume scenarios; spending hours screening thousands of CV’s – with inherent bias’s creeping in by the 13th CV. Then fatigue sets in. And by the 135th CV, unconscious biases have turned into bold conscious judgements; 

  • Their CV is not long enough – “reject”
  • Their CV is too short – “reject”
  • The layout of their CV wasn’t professional enough – “reject”
  • Don’t put education at the back,  have it at the front – “reject”
  • They are not descriptive enough – “reject”
  • They do not enough retail experience – “reject”. And what even is this arbitrary requirement of years of experience? If you have hit the two-year mark within a profession, how does that automatically make you qualified?

Keeping your process consistent and fair is a challenge and the quality of the screening process diminishes. 

If it takes 6 seconds to review a CV, that’s 1.6 hours to get through 1000.

Then there is the phone screen. If you only took 30 into this stage and spoke to them for 10 minutes each, then it will take the recruiter five hours. 

And time is not concentrated nor time-bound to one session – it elapses. You aren’t sitting for 1.6 hours at a time nor can you schedule back-to-back phone screens, so the realistic time frame for this is about a week. 

From there, it’s coordinating Hiring Manager interviews, conducting their interviews, getting feedback, making decisions, giving offers, taking reference checks and finalising compliance steps to make the hire. This is where it ends up being a long and drawn-out process. 

By automating the first pre-screening steps recruiters can seriously slash the time it takes to fill.

Plus they can drive a far better process. How? By getting a trustworthy understanding of the candidate and their personality modelled against the organisations’ success DNA (the “Success DNA” is the profile of what success looks like in your organisation).  

When candidates apply their first step is an automated interview.

It takes 15-20 minutes to complete, and all candidates receive a personality assessment based on what they wrote (which they love).  

Personality can be deduced from the text that candidates write (scientifically proven) and then there is also the feedback from thousands of candidates talking to the accuracy of these personality assessments. 

Here’s a tiny sample of all the feedback >>




What took weeks to get to the interview stage can now be done in minutes following an application.

For Talent Acquisition to build its credibility in the business, it needs to demonstrate its impact on the bottom line and provide tangible solutions to address this need for speed. Tools like Sapia can help with solving for these speed and cost challenges, and the benefits of providing a consistent, bias-free candidate experience are just the icing on the cake. 

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How bots can help you get hired in a pandemic

The use of AI in recruitment is not new. However, experts say it will play a bigger role as job markets heat up post COVID-19.

Natasha Boddy | Work & Careers reporter, Aug 18, 2020 – 9.14 am
Original article:

How did you deal with a change in your life?

What motivates you?

Are you able to share a valuable lesson you’ve learnt from a prior colleague?

They sound like the questions you’d ordinarily get asked in a job interview – except this particular interview is being conducted by a hiring bot. Welcome to the new world of job interviews, where robots are the ones doing the hiring.

Although Ai being used in recruitment is not new, experts predict it will continue to rise in popularity as job markets heats up post COVID-19.

On average, job seekers are having to apply for 20 to 25 jobs before securing employment, said Trini Nixon, regional director of talent management at recruiter Hudson.

She said AI was growing in popularity as a recruitment tool, being a much faster and more efficient way to screen applicants.

“That in itself creates a more positive and engaging experience for applicants when they’re able to get responses at each milestone. AI can also help candidates put their best foot forward, according to Sam Zheng, CEO of conversational AI start-up Curious Thing.

Interview by text message

“This is because a recruiter may not have time to talk to everybody but an AI does,” he said.

AI can be used to discover many things about applicants. Such as their fit for the role, their personality, their communication skills and their tendency to move around jobs.
Barb Hyman, chief executive of Sapia, a Melbourne-based tech firm that uses AI to filter job applicants.

In the wake of COVID-19, Sapia (Formerly PredictiveHire) has launched a new function that lets job seekers be interviewed by text message.

Candidates answer a series of questions by text, with their responses analysed by AI, and then get personalised feedback.

“I know it’s hard to believe, but what we can learn from 200 words is a hell of a lot. That’s because it’s about the questions you ask. You have to ask questions which really get to you and your experience – what we call behavioural questions,” Ms Hyman said.

Ms Hyman said chat-based interviews addressed some of the big failures of current assessments of young people: ghosting (not hearing back about job applications), bias and trust.

“In all of these roles it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is your traits or your behaviours, are you someone I can rely on, do you get on with people,” she said.

Ms Nixon said although AI did reduce bias, it was important to remember it was built off algorithms.

“We need to make AI continually learn from those mistakes and get smarter and smarter. Otherwise we’re working on an algorithm that’s not correct and that I think has perils that we need to be really conscious of,” she said.

Ms Hyman said feedback from candidates showed they found chat-based interviews much more comfortable than other styles of interviews.

Tips for dealing with hiring bots

When applying for a job where AI is involved, Ms Hyman gives the same advice as she would for an in-person interview.

“Be yourself,” she said. “If you try and game the system, the system will find you out.

“In our case, we can identify when someone has plagiarised. We can identify profanity, we know the top sites graduates use to source answers and we can reveal that to our customers.”

Mr Zheng agreed applicants should not try to game the system.

“Every AI runs with different algorithms and a method like this might ultimately penalise you,” he said.

“For example, at Curious Thing, our AI will notice if a candidate is piling on keywords. That is when they aren’t connected into a well-structured and coherent answer. The best results will come from you being authentic.

Mr Zheng said it was important for applicants to remember AI was essentially information collection tools designed to analyse provided information.

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Diversity hiring – the solution is in data patterns

AI helps you discover the right patterns without bias.

Good pattern recognition allows you to make better decisions, short-circuit lengthy processes, avoid mistakes, and better understand risks.

But it has a downside too. Just because you can see a pattern in what has gone before, it is no guarantee that those same things will be true in the future.

Pattern recognition produces particularly flawed results in the hiring process.

When you hear hoofbeats, it’s probably horses. But you never know when it might be a zebra.

We all want to hire people like us, but true innovation comes through diversity.

Recruiters know that they should strip-out any markers that trigger unconscious bias when interviewing – but unconscious bias is hard to fight. The only way to remove those markers is via technology.

AI helps you discover the right patterns without bias.


How does AI solve discrimination and bias issues in recruitment?

Every role has a unique profile and every person has their own unique personality and aptitude DNA. We use a combination of natural language processing (NLP), a branch of AI-specific to text data and machine learning to predict with 85%+ accuracy if someone is right for a role.

NLP provides methods to program computers to process and analyse large amounts of human language data. It takes many forms, but at its core, it’s about communication, but we all know words run much deeper than that. There is a context that we derive from everything someone says.

Google, Facebook, IBM Watson are technologies that also rely on NLP to comb through large amounts of text data. The end result is insights and analysis that would otherwise either be impossible or take far too long.


Busting the stereotypes with interview data

Women are more conscientious than men in their text interview.

Men make on average 4.5% more language errors than women while taking 2% more time on average than women.

Interestingly men show higher levels of English fluency using more difficult words than their female counterparts, more than 4.5% on average.

These stats fluctuate depending on the role. For example, when applying for customer service roles, women take 6% more time than men while making 5% fewer language errors (language errors include grammar and spelling errors).

Women use more words on average in their text interview than men. We don’t find this to be the case.

Who writes more depends on the role family, but we find the difference to be +/- 2% on average (effect size, a more accurate way to measure the difference in averages is less than 0.2 across all role families. This is considered small). For example, in Graduate roles, men write more and in sales and hospitality roles females write more, while answering the same interview questions.

Our data shows that more extraverted candidates are preferred at the hiring stage for sales roles.

On average a hired candidate is 7 percentile points higher in extraversion than the candidate population average. As we track new hire performance in their first 12 months and beyond, we are starting to see a different profile turning up in the better sales performers – more introverts.


If you want to learn more about how we get to these insights from our FirstInterview AI screening tool get in touch here.


In sales, your single-minded focus on targets is far more important than how you present yourself. For recruiters who think otherwise, they may be operating with bias.



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How to write good job ads, optimised for candidate experience

How to write a good job ad | Sapia Ai recruitment software

We agree with Katrina Collier: Recruitment isn’t broken, per se. It needs a bit of work, sure, but in the midst of the Great Resignation, dedicated talent acquisition managers all over the world are doing some of their best work. They’re finding top talent and helping businesses succeed.

Despite this, we can say that candidate experience is certifiably broken. Ghosting rates are up somewhere around 450% since the start of the pandemic. 65% people say they rarely receive notice of their application status (Lever), and 60% of people say they have bailed on a job application due to its length or complexity. 

Why candidate experience is important

Many mid-to-large sized companies spend in excess of $200,000 per year on sourcing and advertising (assuming a hiring rate of fifty people per year). Few invest in candidate experience. We tend to overlook the fact that the candidate journey from application to offer (or rejection) is just as important for the health of a recruitment funnel, over the long term, as good ads or recruitment strategies.

Good candidate experience, put simply, is your best chance at securing the talent you want. In the wake of the Great Reshuffle, employees have the power to choose when and where they work, and they know it. If you can’t reach them and woo them in a reasonable time frame, you’re at a supreme competitive disadvantage. They’re here today, gone tomorrow. That means that multi-round interview funnels and tedious psychometric games aren’t going to cut it anymore. Today’s candidate wants speed, perks, and flexibility. Your experience should be designed with this in mind.

There are a lot of ways candidate experience might be improved – this article offers some tips, including advice on a term we like to call the Gucci principle.

One easy place to start is with your job ads.

How to write a good job ad

Good job ads are concise and well-formatted. They put employee value proposition up front. They discuss the vision and purpose of a role, and not just day-to-day responsibilities. They avoid the term ‘competitive salary’ – in fact, they disclose salary ranges. They’re not necessarily short, either. Anyone who tells you that a job ad must be short to be good does not understand the anatomy of an advertisement.

Here are our top tips.

1. Make sure the spelling and grammar in your job ad is perfect, throughout

This seems like a minor point, but good spelling, grammar, and sentence structure is essential for your employer brand. It’s a matter of perception. Poor writing casts doubt on the legitimacy of your brand, and on your capabilities in general – after all, if you can’t write a clean job ad, how can the candidate be sure you can do other, more important things, correctly?

Have someone in your marketing team cast their eye over your ad before it goes out. Proof-reading should always be a part of your customer outreach. If you don’t have a marketer on which to rely, consider investing in editing software like Grammarly.

2. Keep the unique language of your brand

Funky company names are in vogue. Just look at ours. Because we’re called Sapia, we refer to our team (and even our customers) as Sapians. Therefore, we do the same with our job ads. It creates branding consistency, and works as an unconscious primer, suggesting to candidates that they’re joining a well-knit, stable, and purpose-oriented team. 

The same goes for language. If you’ve adopted or created certain words to make your brand stand out, they should also be used to make your job ad stand out. Look at this example from Gong: They tell the candidate that they’ll be creating edu-taining content. That’s a lot more interesting than “you’ll be writing content that is both educational and entertaining.” Had they chosen the latter sentence, you’d doubt their credibility, because that sentence is not remotely entertaining.

Gong job ad example

Or take this example from one of our own job ads. You might say that using a curse word (oh dear me!) in a job ad is inappropriate, but we don’t. We’re Sapians, and that makes us passionate humans. We understand that writing the way you speak is the quickest way to build rapport. Tell us that you don’t get that impression from this paragraph.

3. Clear categorisation and formatting of sections

A job ad doesn’t need to be short, but it should be formatted for scanning. Candidates should be able to easily read it, extract the main points, and make the call to apply, all within minutes. We like the following job ad section structure:

  • Perks and benefits
  • Responsibilities
  • Qualifications

Each section can be as long as you need it to be (within reason), but it should also be set out in dot points. Easier to read, easier to digest. Many are the job ads that set out position duties and benefits in great big walls of text. Go with dot points, like Gong has, and you’ll stand out.

4. Make it as easy as possible to apply

Depending on the platform you use, it can be difficult to control how candidates enter your funnel. Regardless, you can make it easier by clearly sign-posting the action you expect them to take. If it’s a LinkedIn EasyApply button, great – but don’t confuse candidates by asking them, at the bottom of the ad, to email their CVs to you. This happens a lot.

Make sure you have a single call-to-action, and make it clear. Add it to the top and bottom of your ad. 

You know what they say about first impressions? That’s why it’s so critical to get your job ads right. Check out this post on LinkedIn for more tips on writing the perfect job ad.

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