The Power of AI-Powered Recruiting: An Interview with Barend Raaff of Harver


Barend Raaff, CEO, Harver, talks to HR Technologist about the best practices of AI-enabled recruiting. He describes how AI-powered recruitment platforms can significantly enhance the employee experience and help companies move beyond the resume in assessing candidates holistically. Read on for actionable insights into how to future-proof your recruitment efforts.

Tell us a little about Harver. What role does Harver play in the HR Tech space?

Harver is an AI-powered, pre-employment assessment platform that helps recruiters from companies of all sizes make data-driven hiring decisions. We first started building our software in 2010 and have been growing ever since. Fast forward to now and we have offices in Amsterdam and New York, from where we service clients like Zappos, Netflix, etc.

The role we play in the HR Tech space is that we’re an integral part of the recruitment process of these companies. We offer our software as a SaaS solution that sits between the sourcing and the onboarding phase. We’re dedicated to improving the selection process of our clients by giving recruiters the data necessary to make well-informed hiring decisions on the one hand, and candidates a fun and engaging experience on the other.

What techniques and technology can CHROs employ to understand a candidate in a more holistic manner?

Resumes are indeed an outdated way of preselecting candidates in today’s world. For many roles, the resume is not a predictor for success. Personality, cognitive ability, and cultural fit, for example, are. To understand candidates in a more holistic way, it’s up to CHRO’s to break the cycle of solely relying on gut feeling and start moving towards data-supported decision-making.

With today’s technology, we can put together a data profile of an ideal candidate based on current top performers and assess new candidates based on that profile. We can train algorithms to detect positive outliers in a population of candidates. We can add video interviews to our hiring funnel, interactive situational judgment games, cultural fit assessments, you name it. All accessible from anywhere around the world in a way that candidates have fun while applying.

And it works! We’ve seen employee turnover and time to hire decrease and candidate satisfaction go up. The possibilities are endless.

Neuroscience and psychology are fields that are directly associated with Human Resources. How can HR practitioners use the trove of knowledge from these sciences to improve their recruitment decisions?

The most important thing is; don’t fear what you don’t know. The best HR practitioners are the ones that are open to learning about practical applications from outside their field. Neural networks and measurement of human behavior are key aspects of assessing, engaging and developing the future workforce. So to have a basic understanding is definitely a big plus. But you don’t have to be a neuroscientist yourself to utilize the knowledge from these fields.

To give you an example from our own experience here at Harver; we have machine learning experts, psychologists and assessment experts working on our software day and night, pouring their knowledge into the platform to make sure HR practitioners can use it. Harver is infused with machine learning, psychology and elements of neuroscience, but HR practitioners get to see an intuitive platform and have data displayed in an insightful manner.

Immersive technologies are being leveraged to create real-life simulations as a part of the recruitment process. What type of data is gathered from such simulations? How much weightage should recruiters give the analytical insights received from such mixed reality tests?

At this point, the main advantage of real-life simulations is to provide a realistic job preview and an engaging candidate experience. This, in turn, manages a candidate’s expectations of the company and the job and improves candidate satisfaction rates.

Additionally, the assessment is still very structured and gives you analytical data on said candidate’s performance. The situations are as lifelike as possible and answers given by a candidate give recruiters an idea of the effectiveness of the candidate as well. Other than that, our field is advancing so much that we are testing ways to assess and evaluate unstructured data (e.g., video, audio, text), so we can improve our predictability even better in the future.

Everyday more and more HR personnel are adopting high-end AI-enabled recruitment tools to ease the process. What are some fundamental parameters that CHROs should take into consideration while choosing the “ideal” fit for their company?

First of all, as with any other technology, the choice to implement AI software should be driven by a business need. Of course, this is different for every company. Is it applicant volume, quality, process efficiency, candidate experience? It could be any of a hundred things, but again from our own experience, many of the organizations we speak to want to:

Decrease time to hire
Improve quality of hire
Decrease employee turnover
Improve candidate experience
Decrease cost per hire

Or a combination of all of those.

Second, you have to determine what type of software fits your company. Do you want to go with a quick fix, find an easy one-fix-solution? Do you want to tackle multiple problems, go for a customizable solution that evolves with you?

Third, think about the data that’s being used to make decisions. If your data is skewed, your decisions will be skewed as well. If the algorithm is biased, your decisions will be biased as well. Make sure that the AI solution you pick, is based on scientifically validated fundamentals. Get an understanding of how the machines have been trained and that the algorithm is not biased.

Lastly, don’t forget that your HR and/or recruitment department are the ones that are going to be working with the tool. Pick a solution that’s intuitive and easy to use. Again, you don’t want your staff to have to take a full-blown course in data analytics before working with the tool.

How important is candidate experience during the recruitment process? How can organizations optimize it?

Very important. It provides the applicant with an understanding of the organization (i.e., values and culture) and manages expectations for the job. Especially in this day and age, where we have all this technology at our disposal, candidate experience is more important than ever. And easier than ever!

There are so many ways to optimize candidate experience. But at this point in time, there are three major ways that stand out.

One of the most prominent of course is clear communication. Many of the hiring tools we spoke of before have the possibility of building email sequences. Make sure you send out at least an email when you move candidates from one stage to the other.

Other than that, video is a big one. Video gets digested way more easily than text. Showing a company video or office tour in the hiring process goes a long way. Or do it the other way around, give candidates the possibility to show themselves in a video.

Lastly, it’s feedback. Giving candidates feedback about their performance means they’ve got something to work with the next time they apply somewhere. We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive return from applicants that got a personalized feedback report showing them how they performed during their assessment. Even when they didn’t get the job!

Great “Employer Branding” attracts good talent. Very often organizations ignore the significance of “Employer Branding”. In your opinion, what steps can CHROs take to improve their “Employer Branding”?

This very much comes down to defining your vision, developing a branding that meets that mission and then being consistent in communicating it.

Specifically, from a CHRO perspective, it’s important to realize that every interaction your organization has with a candidate is an employer branding opportunity. From the way your job adverts are written to the time it takes you to reply to candidate questions about their recruitment process to your company’s Instagram account. Every (online) outing they see will give them an idea of what kind of employer your organization is.

What are the essential skills for HR leaders in the digital age?

I’d say the most essential skills for HR leaders in the digital age are:

The ability to adapt to new situations
The ability to seek and understand data
A learning mindset
Being a servant leader

HRT: Thank you for such great insights into AI-Powered Recruiting and current recruitment best practices, Barend. We hope to speak with you again, soon!

About Harver

Harver is a pre-hiring and talent matching technology company that automates pre-hiring and replaces the resume and manual processes to increase efficiency and quality of hire. Harver’s proprietary AI-powered recruitment platform uses predictive analytics to make the recruitment process smarter, faster and more efficient. Harver currently has clients across 20 countries and pre-selects job candidates in 42 languages. Founded in 2014, Harver operates from three offices with the International HQ being based in Amsterdam. Additionally, Harver has a US Headquarter in New York City and an office in London.

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