Automated recruitment aims to help human job-seekers be heard

Despite the growing use of automation in the workplace, some jobs are still best done by real, live humans. After all, robots aren’t yet cooking and serving en masse in restaurants or tidying guest rooms in large hotels.

One novel startup in Hong Kong, though, envisions machines doing better than people at — ironically — recruiting people for such types of work. (Other forms of artificial intelligence are also increasingly being used to sift through candidates’ CVs and video interviews to identify the most promising finalists.)

Pushtalk, founded in 2013, says that it started with a simple goal: “make it as easy as possible for employers to hear what every candidate has to say.”

“In the past, companies would have stringent screening processes that would be entirely based on the resume, which would eliminate some very talented applicants from the recruitment,” CEO Max Armbruster said upon the company’s December 2014 launch in China, the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. “Today, we make it possible for every job applicant to get their voices heard by employers, all while reducing the overall time spent by recruiters with unqualified candidates. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and job seekers.”

This summer, Pushtalk rolled out a bot through Facebook’s Messenger platform that will make it even easier for hopeful job applicants to get their names and qualifications in front of potential employers. The bot walks job-seekers through the earliest steps of the application process; once they’ve completed those steps, Pushtalk’s flagship technology kicks in to get further details from each applicant via an automated phone call.

This kind of innovation would appear to be ideal for enterprise-type employers that need to quickly fill many hundreds or even thousands of positions at different locations around the globe. These kinds of organizations — hotel chains, call centers, employment agencies — often spend an inordinate amount of time fielding job-seeker calls, texts, emails and applications, leaving them less time to actually interview and vet candidates. When those early processes can be automated, employers can focus on the more critical task of identifying the most promising potential employees.

According to a recent article in the South China Morning Post, Starwood Hotels in Macau has used Pushtalk’s technology to conduct phone interviews in Mandarin for its properties in China. Those spoken interviews are then transcribed using Google speech-to-text so those in charge of hiring can review applicants’ responses in detail.

“A phone interview gives every candidate a chance to tell their story,” Armbruster told the Morning Post. “Resumes have been around for forever, but sometimes they can also be misleading. Jobseekers could have average resumes, but when you interview them you would realize that they can be good fits.”

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