Entrepreneur

This Startup Built A Chatbot To Automate Hiring - Counts DBS, Singtel, Gov't Firms As Clients

Singapore is possibly in the height of its recession, with the economy contracting by 13.2 per cent year on year in the second quarter.

The unemployment rate is also at a 10-year high, and it seems like many Singaporeans — both fresh graduates and mid-career — are scrambling for jobs.

This is coupled with the emergence of an online debate about young jobseekers being too “entitled” after a social enterprise co-founder recently posted his hiring experience on Facebook.

It seems that both jobseekers and hirers are faced with countless problems in the hiring process, from battling stereotypes to an overwhelming number of applications.

Singapore-based startup impress.ai aims to provide the best of both worlds with their solution — an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot software for recruiting and human resource (HR).

Creating A Fair Hiring Process

impress.ai
Image Credit: Dice Insights

Too often, candidates are rejected due to biases such as “gender, race, or name”.

On the other hand, “many recruiters and hiring managers face similar challenges,” said Sudhanshu Ahuja, CEO and co-founder of impress.ai.

These challenges include recruiting talents in areas where they had limited knowledge, receiving a high volume of applications whilst managing many roles, and an unstructured methodology for decision making like “gut feel”.

The idea for impress.ai was conceived when its three co-founders were working on another platform back in 2013, which helped enterprise companies hire data scientists.

In 2016, the founders came up with the idea of structured interviews with machines to solve the problems that HR professionals and jobseekers faced.

The product went through countless iterations, and was eventually launched in 2017.

Every Applicant Gets A Chance To Impress

Impress’ chatbot is said to help recruiters at every stage of the talent acquisition process.

To ensure that every applicant gets a fair chance to impress the recruiter, the platform actively fights human bias by “hiding biasing information from human reviewers”.

To ensure that the recruitment remains unbiased, the chatbot conducts “competency-based structured interviews”, using techniques from Industrial-Organisational Psychology.

Sudhanshu told Vulcan Post that the chatbot delivers a 75 per cent improvement in hiring efficiency.

impress.ai
Image Credit: Impress.Ai via Facebook

Since its launch in 2017, impress.ai has gotten many big names on board, including Accenture, DBS Bank and Singtel.

In 2018, impress.ai and the DBS Talent Acquisition team created Jim, a virtual recruiter to support its “rapidly growing” wealth management business.

According to DBS, the move allows it to save 40 man-hours a month.

Later that year, the startup closed a US$1.2 million (S$1.62 million) seed round led by venture builder Reapra.

More recently, Sudhanshu shared that the first and second quarter of 2020 were the best in the history of the company, in terms of number of deals closed.

The startup has managed to onboard clients with HQs based in Australia, China and the US. It has also since onboarded 30 government clients in the past 12 months.

Does This Make HR Obsolete?

Even though impress.ai is not the first to create an automated hiring process, Sudhanshu said that the company’s biggest competitors hail from the United States.

The startup specialises in the Asia Pacific market, and even supports various Asian languages.

What will then happen to the professional recruiters?

There has been a lot of talk that AI will replace HR, but Sudhanshu holds a different belief.

“The future will see AI supporting recruiters in delivering better in their roles,” he said.

In fact, currently, over 60 per cent of candidates do not receive a response from the recruiter.

Impress.ai ensures that every candidate gets a personalised structured interview with its conversational platform, and the founders aim to bring this service to at least 15 countries in the next five years.

This is ironically made easier by the Covid-19 spread around the world, which sees companies shifting faster towards digital transformation.

Sudhanshu believes that the digital transformation of any company begins from its people, and the HR function is the best place to start.

Instead of rendering HR obsolete, impress.ai allows recruiters to shift their focus to the more strategic aspects of their jobs, such as “predicting the skill gaps and engaging candidates”.

“Besides, machines and technology can never replace human emotions such as creativity and empathy,” said Sudhanshu.

Featured Image Credit: impress.ai

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