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Jun 1, 2021
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18. CEO, VidCruiter
18. CEO, VidCruiter
Sean Fahey is the Founder and CEO of VidCruiter (https://vidcruiter.com/), a company specializing in video interviewing and recruiting technology. Sean and Jeff discuss specifically how employers can find passionate people who are great at their jobs. Sean shares the challenges of having too many or not enough candidates in the pool, and the need to apply consistent structure, processes, and workflows to the recruiting methodology. Sean shares how he pulled off hiring 200 people in 30-days and how this became a catalyst for starting his company. They talk about weeding out bias in recruiting and what methods can improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sean shares his thoughts on the lack of readiness of artificial intelligence to be embedded into recruiting technologies and associated pitfalls to be aware of.

Transcript

Intro: Duration: (01:23)

Opening music jingle & sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Hi everyone. I'm Jeff Hunt, and this is Human Capital a GoalSpan podcast. On Human Capital, I get the pleasure of interviewing top business thought leaders in the US and abroad in the quest to uncover the deeply human aspect of work. One of the things I love is having a diversity of guests on my show. And today is no exception. Today we're going to talk about the war for talent and specifically how employers can find passionate people who are great at their jobs. Even with a large capable and available workforce finding the right talent can still feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

On today's show, I'm also looking forward to talking a little bit about artificial intelligence and specifically the benefits and pitfalls of AI in recruiting. My guest today is Sean Fahey, who is the CEO of VidCruiter, which is a popular online recruiting software. Specializing in video interviewing. Sean is both a CEO at big cruder and also a strategic recruitment advisor to organizations worldwide. And in addition to those roles, he serves on the Forbes human resources council. Welcome, Sean!

Sean Fahey:

Hi Jeff, thanks for having me.

Topic 1. Who or what inspired you to go into business? (01:24)

Jeff Hunt:

You bet. Well, I'm excited to dive into this topic today. We haven't covered it yet on the show, but before we do that, I always love to start with my guests. Kind of rewinding their journey. So let's go back and take a look at the beginning of your career, share with our listeners who or what inspired you to go into business, and eventually start your own company.

Sean Fahey:

Sure. So, the very first thing that inspired me to go into business was a book called Rich dad, poor dad. From a gentleman called Robert Kiyosaki. I followed that book with a second one called the cashflow quadrant. And then that sort of just expanded my mind to a new world that I didn't really know existed or didn't understand as much. That was what I was just in school and university instead of reading these kinds of books. And then from there, I started a few businesses and then eventually landed in HR tech software.

Jeff Hunt:

And what brought you into HR tech?

Sean Fahey:

Yeah, the business I ran before this was retail. I stopped doing retail in 2018, 2008, 2009 during the sort of downturn in the economy at that time. And, I went out to get a job. And that wasn't that obvious of a process. I had to apply to all sorts of organizations and I had just built a company on my own to 30 employees and my resume wasn't really a traditional resume.

MBA CEO under 30 is not typically something that you get those roles, the titles don't match the roles. So, I wouldn't even get interviewed. I'd build all that from scratch. And I had pretty, it was a good business, so I couldn't even get a phone interview. So, then I had to start tweaking my resume, changing my titles. And then finally I met a recruiting firm and then they interviewed me in the whole firm and offered me two jobs on the spot that day. And I said, how is it possible that I couldn't get an interview? And then as soon as I talked to someone, I get two job offers.

I ended up not taking those roles and I ended up working for an insurance company that was expanding and they said, we want to hire 200 people. As fast as possible, but their plan was like a five-year plan. And then I had the idea, well, what if we could hire 200 people as fast as possible? And then we could just sit in the office of the finalist would walk in.

And then I also had just experienced not getting interviews when I was qualified for all sorts of roles. And sort of I didn't even have a chance to say my story or tell my story to the employer. So. putting all that together needing to hire a lot of people, having just gone through the hiring process and seeing how there were some missing links there.

I said we need to have a video system that would allow a candidate to share their story and give them a chance at being in front of that employer. So that's where it sort of VidCruiter came together with all those different parts. And we launched recruiter in 2009.

Jeff Hunt:

An eternity for a software company, by the way.

Sean Fahey:

People often ask me what was your background? Was it recruiting or was it HR? It wasn't either. It was just seeing in the market that there was a need for applicants to be able to tell their story and recruiters to save time and interview the right people. So, it did take some time for VidCruiter to get off the ground low because they didn't have that background.

Sure. But eventually, in 2012, I started full-time in the company. We officially launched the product that we have here today in 2013

Jeff Hunt:

Okay. So, looking back, you really experienced a problem yourself. You identify that problem and you found a way to come up with a solution that would really help a lot of people. It seems like

Sean Fahey:

You got it. Basically digitizing the interview process.

Topic 2. Finding the right person for the right job, the best kind of interviews (05:26)

Jeff Hunt:

Very good. I mentioned this in the intro to our show, but sometimes finding the right person can really feel like a needle in a haystack and it can be incredibly frustrating. And so I guess since you have such expertise now in this space, I'm curious about some of the ways are that hiring teams can overcome this challenge.

Sean Fahey:

We typically see a few different types of challenges. Some are too many candidates, and some are not enough those are typical. You're usually in one of those two camps.

So, our products and what we see, we have different ways to help with both those challenges. And it's, there are some cases where we don't help, but I can talk about all three, but the first one is when you have too many qualified candidates or too many candidates in your pool. It's hard by looking at a resume to know who's qualified and who's done, and you can get some idea from the resume.

But when you watch what's called a prerecorded interview or asynchronous interview where people record at home and a lot of our clients will just automate the first step. So, automate if their resume is good enough, if they answer a certain series of questions, if they pass a scale test of some sort, just automatically interview those people for us.

And that's what the system will do. And then at that point, you would do that when you have too many candidates typically, but you then get to interview or watch interviews for maybe 10, 15, 20, 30 people. Whereas in a traditional phone interview, you might only do five or 10 phone interviews and you're limiting the opportunity to look at more candidates.

And so oftentimes these needles in a haystack, candidates could be people that don't have the perfect resume, like a sort of like what I had at that time, or a lot of people that may not know exactly how to write a perfect resume, have the right skill set, to know what they're looking for. That's not a skill set that people developed often, but then when you see them present or answer your interview questions that may be specific to that role.

You're like, wow, this is someone that I would have normally overlooked, but they're actually really good. Let's take the time to watch the rest of their interviews and maybe even move forward with an interview. Now that may not happen in every single job posting, but this is an example of how to get that needle in a haystack interview, more people, right?

But as an HR practitioner, a recruiter, you may not have that time, which is where the system comes in and our platform could interview 100 people for you, 10 people for you in a week, whatever your numbers are, and then you can make decisions faster. So a lot of clients will ask a knockout question or kick out a question to go directly to this question.

How did everyone answer this question? These 10, know what they're talking about. I'm going to spend the rest of the 15 minutes watching the rest of their interview and doing that through a structured interview methodology is some of the ways, so that would be the first way that you help find the needle in the haystack. When you have too many candidates.

Jeff Hunt:

Got it. And it sounds like what you're saying is really by this approach, you're gaining some significant efficiencies, which might allow you to find somebody that you wouldn't otherwise. And so, you end up with potentially a better candidate and you're also spending less time doing it.

Sean Fahey:

That's our corporate goal is to increase speed and quality at the same time. And for the candidate, the third person in this equation. They now have a chance to present themselves or interview with someone where they may have not had that chance in the past. So normally an organization will do 5, 10 swollen screens, maybe 15.

They're not going to do more than that, and they're not going to do 20 or 30. Whereas now 30 people could have a chance to this role. And if you're qualified, I may not be perfect resume on paper, but all of a sudden you answer these questions, and like you said, they're charismatic. They got the right.

Culture fit. They're following your structured interview guides. They're answering the right way with the right question set that you need, which gets you that right person faster.

Jeff Hunt:

When you look at the ways that companies do interviews this also seems quite variable. You have some companies that do very structured sort of interviews. They may even do it with a lot of different, stakeholders within the company that is going to be impacted by this incoming person. And then you also have non-structured strategies. And so I guess I'm curious about your thoughts regarding these two different approaches.

Sean Fahey:

Sure. So the sites that we follow and the research that we've seen from multiple different sources, whether it was from Google's research and the Laszlo block book or some.

Psychology books that we follow are that the structured interview methodology is the best way to recruit the best possible candidate. And what that means for people that may have taught, they've heard the term, but they don't know exactly what that means is that every candidate is interviewed the same way under the same circumstances, with the same interview questions, with the same difficulty level and in the video interview case with the same answer time.

And so literally everyone has the same process. So that's step one is to structure the way in which you interview the person. Step two, which some organizations do, and we recommend it to everyone is let's structure your rating and evaluation of those candidates. So the first thing is, do you have a structured interview guide or rubric?

This means that when I'm listening to this interview question, I can hear what and how I need to look for, what to look for in a good answer. And it helps guide managers along with behaviors that we're looking for, competencies that we're looking for specific to what that person is saying. Now the beauty of our product is that could be embedded directly into the interview when you're watching it so that if you need to ensure compliance, like some of our larger clients have to ensure compliance for every manager to make sure they're reading properly.

They don't have the proper interview guide associated with the proper question built into the actual platform. So this is an example of how we deliver that methodology. So structure the questions, structure the rating, and then the ability to share that with multiple stakeholders can also reduce the elimination or reduce the possibility of bias.

So, in a phone interview or phone screen, one person may be making that decision in a prerecorded or asynchronous video interview. You can share the video with multiple stakeholders. So now two or three people are making a decision on if that person should move forward. And the probability of bias goes down dramatically because you can have different people from different team members, different backgrounds, evaluate those candidates that were all set up the same way. And I'll have a structured interview guide on how to make that decision. That's sort of how our tools are configured.

Topic 3. Can technology solve diversity and equity problems? Benefits and pitfalls of AI in recruiting (12:24)

Jeff Hunt:

Okay. And when you look at technology, are there ways that this type of technology, whether it's your company or others can help solve some of the diversity equity and inclusion problems that result in the recruiting space that sort of perpetuating those problems?

Sean Fahey:

Sure. So yeah, the first thing is to include other people in the decision-making process. So, to have questions geared around those topics. When you're using an asynchronous video interview tool, you can have multiple people be part of your interview panel to help determine. And if you find that your interview panel always makes the same decisions are always leaning a certain way.

You could even hire a contract person to help with doing your evaluations of candidates that may have a completely different background. And so with this product, that person doesn't need to be in an interview. You don't have to explain who they are and all these other kinds of things. You just add them to your process.

If a lot of organizations are contacting us with these goals and we have permission sets that can have, Hey, let's expand the panel. You have all these candidates, put them through the process, have this third party evaluate them, and then your team would have another outlook on these candidates where traditional interview methods don't allow for this kind of diversity thinking.

Jeff Hunt:

Sean AI now has its tentacles into almost every area of the workplace. What are some of the benefits and pitfalls of AI in recruiting?

Sean Fahey:

Sure. So from our point of view here at VidCruiter AI and recruiting in terms of the video analysis is not at a quality yet that you can ensure that there is no discrimination happening. There's a lot of research that has gone into, and we spend a lot of time looking at this and, even just how certain people's dialect is built. Some people say we, instead of I, and some of the AI bots are built, the recognition that is a different mentality in terms of confidence level, certain cultures use those words interchangeably.

And so you could be inadvertently discriminating against someone like that. So there are so many different nuances in dialect and, there are other AI technologies for video analysis that analyze eye movements. But it's picking off different contrast in your lighting. So if I turn off the lights here, you may not be able to see as well as if I open up these windows.

Right? So there are just differences in how the tools work and pick up different components of making decisions. So for us, we've stayed away from AI analyzing candidates, where we see the power of AI in recruitment, which we are in our plans to add. And we haven't even done it yet because there's a lot of different moving parts, but it's to have AI help your ratings.

So, give power to the recruitment team. And to the HR team, and maybe the VP of HR to see across the organization what's happening and predict what's happening from that point of view, not so much analyze the candidate because there are too many red flags that pop into that. And there are more and more laws that are being put in place in different States in the US one in Illinois and around AI and video technology specifically. Other states are now following suit. So it's getting into very risky, types of recruiting. We are strong believers at VidCruiter in terms of structured interviews that are proven and helps reduce bias by having more people involved.

Jeff Hunt:

How do you see AI evolving? What are the trends? And do you actually see some of these challenges you described being overcome in the next two, three, five years?

Sean Fahey:

I think it's more than five years. I think we, for recruiting, we have to wait until AI is proven at a rate that's, let's say a hundred percent or close to that to not have any biases in it before we start applying it to candidate evaluation. And it's the same thing for cars like your AI is going to drive you.

And we're already saying that, well, it's AI smarter than humans at driving cars. And the probability of accidents is less, but. No one is letting AI drive their cars. It's still not legal because the standard by which AI needs to be held is much higher than a human driver. So until we see AI in other fields that have dramatically dominated those fields in a comparable way much better than what humans can do, then I believe HR would be adding that into their, their product fee.

A lot of our competitors in the market I've gone and dived in headfirst into those product sets. I thought it was a little early and we held back because all the research we saw just kept showing bias, bias, bias, bias, every time we looked into it. And we looked at it from multiple angles. So I think it's still five years.

I mean, if you think about it, how often does Siri not pick up exactly what you said? Well, Apple's invested tons of money into that, and we're talking about one sentence, not an hour of speech. And if I miss one word or put the wrong word into that speech recognition engine, and that throws off a bias, or you don't get hired because you said certain words, the wrong way, you're getting into risky territory.

So, we're huge believers in let's let humans make the decisions, but let's make it easier for them. And what we focus on is workflow automation. So we're talking about the structured interview system. Well, when the ratings are done, let's automate that and move it to the next step in the process, to the next person, to the calendar, to the video conference.

Let's automate the second interview. And so we automate the tasks that the recruiters do that aren't high value for the recruiter to do. Focus the recruiter's time or the hiring manager's time on interviewing quality, not those tasks.

Jeff Hunt:

Very interesting because there are distinct, connections between your technology and ours in the performance management space because we focus a lot on workflows as well.

And they are critically valuable in terms of improving efficiency. There's basically no comparison to a manual process where you're trying to run that manually with those workflows versus doing it online. And, as I said, it's true for recruiting. It's true for performance management as well.

Sean Fahey:

You got it. And that's where we focus. And those efficiencies haven't been realized by most organizations yet. So let's start with something that's not going to put us in hot water and make that super-efficient. And then we'll look at AI and other things that could augment that reality after.

Topic 4. The effects of the pandemic in online recruitment (19:33)

Jeff Hunt:

That makes sense. So the pandemic seems to be waning, at least in the US with all the vaccinations taking place. But when you look back on this unbelievable year. Last year in 2020, there were dramatic effects on every part of the business. And so I would love to hear your take on how it has affected online recruiters.

Sean Fahey:

Well, it's accelerated it. That would be one of the terms that I would use to describe that. VidCruiter is one of the lucky organizations that were able to stay in business during this time, continue operations, we've helped expand operations and it's because we were able to help frontline workers get hired faster. In March of last year, we helped an organization that hires traveling nurses. We helped them hire 1400 nurses in 10 days.

Jeff Hunt:

Oh my gosh.

Sean Fahey:

Yeah, it was the fastest that they had ever done that. And all those nurses went to New York City during the surge in COVID to help with that specific challenge that they had at that time.

So we were able to do that's one of many stories, but those are the kinds of things that we were able to do over the last year. We helped hire, COVID workers who were doing contract tracing in Baltimore. All sorts of little stories like this, that accelerate, hiring, get the right people in as fast as possible.

That's what our tool does. It accelerates the process. So, we've been lucky to help all sorts of organizations and, and now there's the second phase where people are rehiring again. So we're helping through that phase again. So I mean, Where we've been lucky that we've been able to help a lot of organizations through these times.

Jeff Hunt:

So I learned before our interview that earlier in your career, speaking of a massive hiring task that you were tasked with some sort of massive recruiting project with a very tight deadline. Can you share a little bit about that experience?

Sean Fahey:

So just before I started, VidCruiter someone asked me to help them hire 200 people. Their deadline was five years, but I went back to them and said, well, why don't we just try to plan this and do this in the next 30 days? Because it was a hundred percent commission sales representatives and insurance company, and there would be no limit or reason why you wouldn't hire them faster.

And they sort of laughed and said, you won't be able to hire 20 people in 30 days. That's just not physically possible to go through all the stages we have to do to make that happen it’s just not possible. And I didn't like that answer. So, that's where I started thinking about how could it be possible?

Now I just gave you an example. We are 1400 nurses in 10 days and they needed to be vetted for all the criteria, there's a lot of hoops to jump through to prove that you're a nurse, and so on and so forth. So, I mean, our tool has been used now. We just did a career fair for lows.

In Canada across the country there, we hired 7,000 people in two months. So we're doing all sorts of these kinds of things to refill all their stores again and this kind of stuff. And they used our video competent technology, our prerecorded asynchronous technology, and our automated scheduling technology to book candidates into, if it was COVID they'd do an asynchronous.

If that region was safe, they do a video conference or in-person, depending on the bandwidth of the store. So, the caterers are routed to different interview types based on the type of session that they needed for the location that they needed at that time, based on the COVID restrictions. Uh, so that was kind of a cool use case. So we generally solve problems, whether it's speed, quality, or both. But our goal is to complement applicant tracking systems. VidCruiter is the perfect add-on to Workday, Oracle, SAP, greenhouse, iCIMS you name it? Our goal is to be everything that they don't do. And so that's where sort of, we focus our, our time

Topic 5. Core values at VidCruiter (23:51)

Jeff Hunt:

There are other competitors, obviously. What, what are some of your core differentiators, and also speak a little bit about your core values internally for your company?

Sean Fahey:

Sure. Well, our first core value here at VidCruiter is continuous improvement. So a lot of people that had worked for us at the beginning of our organization had never done this before.

Right. I wasn't from a recruitment background. And so we just had to continuously improve on the status quo. And that has sort of transitioned into our whole team where it's like if you don't know, it's okay, let's just try to improve on what we did know, and improving by 1% or 10% a year dramatically speeds up your process So that's been our main, sort of driving value, which then leads to continuous learning, continuous, all sorts of other, components to that in terms of our competitors. I mean, early on in 2014, 15, when we looked at AI, we realized that it would be problematic long-term. And we just shifted to the structured era of a view model.

So, we built all these features around workflow and structured interview workflows, and rating workflows. And this other scenario I gave you with, Lowe's how the candidates flow through these different pipelines based on approvals and in our workflow engine is superior to anyone else.

And the structured interview focus gave us a competitive advantage in that sector. Now some of our competitors are sort of following this trend because they realize the HR market's not there yet. So we're moving that angle forward and we're leading in that angle. And then also every organization says they're great at customer service, but the ratio that we have of customer service agents to sale reps here is 40 to one.

For every sales rep, we have 40 people in the customer service team, whether it's implementation, helping with support for applicants, helping support organizations and our NPS score, when you go to G2 and look at our reviews is the highest or in the top two in the world for this market. So for the category that we're in, we're the highest, but we, uh, we have some of the best customer services in the world.

Jeff Hunt:

Very impressive. How did you ultimately get to that place where you can make that claim? What were some of the strategies you deployed?

Sean Fahey:

What happened is when we first, first started, we realized that a lot of vendors don't help the HR practitioners or the recruiters put the software in place as much as they need to, as soon as just give it to you.

And then they would come to ask us well, how does, how does this work, and how does this work? And at one point I just decided let's not have any documented hours on how much time we spent implementing the client. I want every single client to have unlimited implementation time. I want every single client, no matter what level of technology, they have, to learn how to use recruiter, because long-term, if they keep using it and they know how to use it and they're comfortable, and it does exactly what they want because you can use a recruiter, knock it out in 24 hours, use a template.

You're good to go. But if you want to customize this workflow that we've been talking about, and you want to automate some of these efficiencies, we need to understand your business. And we need to map that out into the product so that it works exactly for your business. So early on, we said, we're just going to do unlimited implementation time.

And that has trickled down into us, just investing more and more and more into customer service. Um, and we just keep hiring as the need expands. And so that's really what happened and is working and clients are referring more and more business. So we're just going to keep it. We just hired another six people in the customer service team last week, and I've got seven more jobs open in that department.

Topic 6. Lighting round questions (27:53)

Jeff Hunt:

Very exciting. It's also interesting because we have such a similar business model at GoalSpan. So we basically have unlimited implementation hours as well. And it's worked very well. So I appreciate you sharing that. So Sean, let's shift into some lightning round questions. These are just quick top-of-mind questions. Completely unrelated to business, but kind of fun anyway, the first one is what are you most grateful for?

Sean Fahey:

Being here at this time? I know that's kind of maybe odd, but when I look back in history and all the different times and innovations that we've seen humankind go through, we're at the peak of innovation, and being part of that is kind of exciting. Being here and being able to be part of this sort of cool innovation would be one of my most grateful moments.

Jeff Hunt:

What's one of the most difficult leadership lessons you've learned over your career?

Sean Fahey:

I always lead by example here at VidCruiter and sometimes that's not always been easy, but that would be leading by example would be one of the things that I've learned is the best way to lead. And that's. One of the reasons we're successful. So that would be why I would say that.

Jeff Hunt:

That's a good one. Who's one person you would interview if you could living or not?

Sean Fahey:

Elon Musk. I want to know about his simulation story. He keeps talking about it and I've read about it a little bit, but I want to hear exactly from him. What is the simulation and why does he think we live in it?

Jeff Hunt:

And what's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Sean Fahey:

I think there's never give up. We didn't start in Silicone Valley. So, we're in a remote part of Eastern Canada. There are not too many tech companies here. There's a lot of lobster fishermen, we're just North of Maine. So if you think of a remote part of Maine, that's kind of exactly where we are. So, when we first started, we didn't think we would have the kind of clients that we have now, but now we have fortune 25 fortune 50, the United Nations, all sorts of clients on a global scale, all around the world, doing tens of thousands of interviews a day, sometimes hundreds of thousands.

It's just kind of surreal to get to that point when you just started. It's just an idea. So a lot of people, I just say, just don't give up.

Jeff Hunt:

Great piece of advice. What's the single most important thing you want our Human Capital listeners to take away from our talk today?

Sean Fahey:

The most important thing is it depends where you are in your trajectory or roadmap of adopting technology in your HR department. But I would say it's always a great idea to try it, even though it might seem like, this tool's not integrated with that one. And this it's not perfect. Just start doing baby steps of adopting more and more technology and improvements within HR and recruiting. Sometimes they get a lot of pushback from managers and stuff like that.

And one of the things that we do here at VidCruiter actually is we'll go, not only train you and give you unlimited implementation, but we'll also do sales presentations for your team. Bring us in and help us sell to the rest of the organization. Why everyone needs to be on board with this and whether it's us or any vendor, but it's to get people to help you and just ask the vendors like, Hey, we're having these challenges.

I often tell clients, give us your hardest recruitment job, the hardest one to fail, or whichever one it is. Let me fill that one first. Let me help you convince your hiring managers that they need to have this tool in place. And then when you get those small wins. Just start small people always, well, it's not integrated to Workday, it's not doing all these things.

Let's just do one job. Let's not forget about all this other stuff. One win, second wind, third win, fourth win. And then we'll talk about rolling it out and doing a whole national blitz or whatever. So, those are some of the things that sometimes people start at step 10 and we just want to start at step one.

Jeff Hunt:

Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Right?

Sean Fahey:

You got it.

Jeff Hunt:

Well, this has been great, Sean. Thanks so much for the wisdom and for coming to the show today.

Sean Fahey:

I appreciate it. Jeff.

Jeff Hunt:

You bet.


Outro (32:26)

Closing music jingle/sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Thanks for listening to the show this week. We release a new episode of Human Capital on the first and third Tuesday of each month, I would really like to know what you thought of this episode, send your comments to humancapital@goalspan.com. Human Capital is produced by GoalSpan, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please share this podcast with your colleagues, team, or friends, thanks for being human kind.

Human Capital — 18. CEO, VidCruiter
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