VoiceAdvantage Hits Moving Targets
A different way to interview and evaluate job candidates.
The hiring process isn't something that brings a smile to many, and it can certainly be taxing to the employers trying to find the right fit for positions. I remember an old feature built for the insurance industry by Rockwell International used in the call center, known as the "screening gate." Agents would answer initial calls and say, "Good day, thank you for calling Company X, would you like sales, service or claims?"
Now that the above process has long been replaced with automated attendants and ARUs, a similar process in recruiting and hiring needs forklifting too. This is what got my attention when HarQen announced the addition of an in-browser recording to VoiceAdvantage. This product allows those doing the hiring to use their phone and a simple web-based dashboard to create and distribute custom, recorded phone interviews. Job candidates can now use Voice Advantage anywhere they have an Internet connection and browser.
Candidates access the interview questions from any web browser when it's convenient for them to do so. This eliminates scheduling conflicts, callbacks and substantial time of HR staffers dealing with contacting and interviewing candidates. While this tool is not intended to replace face-to-face interviewing, potential customers can realize the value by sheer numbers of candidates interviewed and then narrowing qualifying matches. HarQen argues there is a ROI because of the cost associated with conducting those initial phone interviews to pare down eligible candidates using the old process. VoiceAdvantage acts as that screening gate allowing faster turnaround, and with the web interface, other staff members directly involved with the hiring can easily screen candidates' answers and then rate them without ever meeting them.
VoiceAdvantage is a SaaS offering, and pricing depends upon volume. The company says that existing customers have reduced their time to hire by up to 75%. Kevin Lindbergh, Director of Strategic Accounts at HarQen, told me, "40% of VoiceAdvantage interviews are completed outside of normal business hours." These kinds of numbers suggest two things: first, candidates are not easy to reach and then conduct phone interviews with; and secondly, how many qualified candidates aren't reached simply because they're not available during normal business hours? People generally are moving targets in our mobile society and I think this service looks to improve an old process and maximize the use of HR staff instead of spending time running down candidates.
When speaking with Kris G�sser, Director of Product Development at HarQen, I could easily see productivity improvements and cost savings. But Kris went on to explain that the process is also better for the candidates since VoiceAdvantage can provide faster responses both to eligible and rejected candidates. The service definitely hits upon a need in verticals such as health care, call centers and retail where there's a higher churn rate of employees. The voice metrics provide needed screening, insight about the candidate and internal feedback to help HR staff determine whether or not employees are suitable for the positions based upon their responses. Of course this means a certain degree of subjectivity, but well crafted recruiting campaigns that are needs-focused should be able to deliver first-line questions to candidates. Job seekers can pretty much write whatever they want on a resume, but stepping up to the microphone and responding to questions that record responses is more than interesting. Candidates' tone, inflection and telephone demeanor are certainly useful for numerous verticals that involve dealing with customers. Then the answers themselves should indicate a degree of convincing, not just selling, that the job seeker is capable of fitting into the role. Again, there's an element of subjectivity, but it cant be worse than with what goes on the scores of resumes. What this may mean for job hunters is akin to writing emails--it's not necessarily what you say but how you say it that could land you your next job.
I have to add that I'm very optimistic about HarQen's use of technology. As Kevin and Kris presented the service I kept thinking about other possibilities (see HarQen Solutions) and how to adapt their service to other needs. Then they mentioned that Pehr Anderson is behind the technology (Vice President Platform Technology) and that, "Pehr is the guy who dropped out of MIT and started the NBX Corporation to make an IP-based phone system that used Ethernet to carry voice calls."