Tech

Putting the “chat” in chatbot: Introducing our new features!

928 482 Mita Mandawker

At Shortlist, we want to make sure everyone has fun throughout the hiring process! We design human-centred products for our clients (employers) and candidates to help them enjoy the experience of recruiting and applying for jobs.

We’re excited to introduce our latest product — a new & improved candidate chatbot!

Candidates chat with a bot — that’s as sassy, funny, or straightforward as our clients want it to be — to share details about their background, skills, and experience. Shortlist configures the chat questions based on specific details employers need — no unnecessary questions, and no boring forms!

Today, we’re launching a more flexible and interactive chatbot that will enhance the recruitment process for both applicants and employers alike. Take a look at our latest features!

A more interactive application experience for candidates

Hundreds of thousands of candidates across Africa and India have applied to jobs on Shortlist, and we want them all to know that we’re on their side! We try to understand these candidates as people — what they love and hate about job applications, what aspects of the process stress them out the most, and what they’d love companies to do differently. (We also engage with candidates on several other exciting topics, but not all result in a new product build 😊).

We took all of this into account when creating our new chatbot. Here’s what candidates are most excited for:

Better communication: Candidates can preview a job application before they dive in, see how long they have before the deadline, and track the progress of their application.

Candidates track progress through the application and chat using an intuitive interface.

More human interactions: A WhatsApp-esque chat interface makes it more enjoyable for candidates to share details about their careers and interests.

Easier navigation: Unlike most structured forms, candidates can easily move through various stages of the application and come back to ones they want to complete later.

Friendly prompts help candidates understand what to do.

Clear instructions: Friendly prompts, cleaner drop-downs, and lots of messaging tell the candidates exactly what we’re looking for.

Flexibility: Candidates can answer questions in the format they are most comfortable with. For example, they can enter their salary in whichever currency and time period they’re comfortable they’d like.

More flexibility and customization for employers

Hiring managers — what if you could automate every question you ask an applicant during an initial phone screen? That’s essentially what our chatbot does for you! It takes in the key information you would ask to gauge if the candidate is a fit for your role. Here are the features that allow us to replicate the experience of a phone screen, at scale!

Employers only include questions they need.

More flexibility with the question flow: With our customizable chat, you make sure you’re only asking relevant questions. Depending on a candidate’s response, you can branch to a different set of follow-up questions.

Automated screening: Exclude candidates that don’t meet basic criteria early in the process, just like you would not continue with a phone screen if the candidate didn’t possess a “must-have” skill.

‘Boost’ candidate scores on core requirements. Branch to different sections based on a candidate’s response.

Automated scoring: Give different weight to questions you care the most about. For example, if your ideal candidate has 4–6 years of experience building financial models, you can “boost” responses to the question, and it will reflect in the candidate scoresheet.

Structured data: Responses to chatbot questions live in set columns in our database. If a candidate has answered a question for one of your applications, they don’t need to again.

See for yourself!

We’d be delighted to show you around our new chatbot — email us at sales@shortlist.net for a demo.

We’re excited about making the hiring process as fun and stress-free as we possibly can and there’s so much more we’re working on to achieve this. Stay tuned!

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Shortlist’s Favourite Reads of 2018

1000 750 Shortlist

2018 — what a year!

We certainly had a lot of fun building cool products, going above and beyond for our clients, and engaging with hundreds of inspirational jobseekers last year. We also grew as a team, adding 27 new Shortlisters (and 3 Shortlist babies!) to the family. We even found the time to brainstorm and make a crucial addition to the Shortlist values.

But when we weren’t at work, we spent time refreshing our knowledge and discussing the latest trends across startups, talent, technology, and beyond! Without further ado, here’s what we loved reading last year (and why):

Paul Breloff (Co-founder & CEO of Shortlist and self-proclaimed bookworm):

The Culture Code — Probably the book that has had the most significant impact on how Shortlist thinks about teams and culture, and inspiration to this blog. It’s particularly exciting when a book can break through the noise and provide a compelling answer to a simple, huge question like, “why are some teams great, and others aren’t?” Daniel Coyle goes through the steps leaders can follow to build great environments that enable teams to thrive — as well as highlighting some of the common ways leaders and their teams muck things up.

The Fifth Risk — In case anyone needs any additional reasons to believe that the current US political situation is dangerously crazy, this book helps you understand why the apparatus of the US government is actually really important, beyond the politics, for things we really should all care about. Only Michael Lewis can make big bureaucracy fascinating and scary and a page-turner…

The Overstory — Will never look at a tree the same way again. A big-ish book but fundamentally changed how I look at nature, the delicate balance of our ecosystems and globe, and the philosophy-beyond-pragmatism import of caring about life forms even if they move slowly and don’t show signs of sentience.

Bad Blood — I definitely wanted more from this Theranos blow-by-blow, like a little bit more “what does this all mean, how can things get better” — but it still delivered a gripping page-turner of “How on earth did none of these adults stop this?!

 

 

Ariane Fisher (Managing Director — East Africa and one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs!)

Becoming — My favorite book of the year. Michelle Obama’s story is vulnerable, honest, and filled with insight on how to build a life of meaning.

Barbarians at the Gate — The incredible page-turner tells the story of the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. It’s the ultimate story of greed, backstabbing, and corporate intrigue.

Educated— Tara Westover’s thought-provoking and moving memoir of growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho is at its core a story about the meaning and value of education.

 

 

Mridvika Raisinghani (Managing Director — India, saleswoman extraordinaire, and supermom to adorable 6-year old twins who are taking Mumbai’s junior chess circuit by storm)

Built to Sell — Some interesting sales anecdotes and perspective (e.g., don’t hire fancy country clubbers; hire 2 sales people at once and get them to compete), but packed with lessons far beyond sales and marketing alone.

Zero to One — A quick and fascinating read for any startup enthusiast capturing Thiel’s lessons from founding PayPal to becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most successful investors.

The Difficulty of Being Good — Gurcharan Das uses the 2000-year old Indian epic, the Mahabharata, to describe the failings and virtues of its major characters and how they relate to the ethical and moral dilemmas that we face in today’s complex world.

 

 

 

Rhea Mehta (Director of Assessments at Shortlist and mother to one of the three Shortlist babies born in 2018!)

[Podcast] The Sorting Hat — This episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain plays out the Harry Potter analogy to expose the risks of using personality tests to screen candidates for jobs.

Babyhood — A parenting classic on developmental psychology (and an engaging respite from reading about pureed foods, sleep, and diapers). Penelope Leach addresses how our minds develop and helps us understand why people behave the way they do.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go — This upbeat and easy to read Dr. Seuss classic, written for children aged 1–100, is one of the few books I consistently read to my daughter. It’s always fun to revisit Dr. Seuss’ lyrical adaptation of life’s profound truths — “You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!’

 

 

 

Pranay Merchant (That’s me! Manager — Strategic Initiatives, recruitment geek, and startup and tech enthusiast)

The Hard Thing About Hard Things — My companion on a visit to the sunny beaches of Varkala, Ben Horowitz’s practical guide on how to navigate every hairy problem you can possibly encounter while building a startup is a must-read for every startup employee or wantrapreneur! Don’t be startled by the occasional hip-hop song lyric or liberal use of profanity.

Mindset — Stanford professor Carol Dweck distills decades of research on success in school, work, sports, and nearly every field of human achievement into a simple yet groundbreaking idea: people that think their abilities are unchanging — or those with a fixed mindset — are far less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset (the belief that one’s abilities can be developed through effort and embracing failure.

How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) — Fascinating long-form article from one of my favourite blogs, Wait But Why. In classic Tim Urban fashion, this piece breaks down a large and consequential question into a digestible framework for how to pick a career that reflects “who you are, what you want, and what our rapidly changing career landscape looks like today”.

[Podcast] Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture — No prizes for guessing why this episode of the Andreessen Horowitz podcast makes my list. 🙂

 

 

 

Over to you… What were some of YOUR favourite books or blogs from last year? Let us know in the comments!

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paradox of choice

When Deciding Is Hard: The Modern Recruiter’s Paradox of Choice

1200 900 Paul Breloff

When Barry Schwartz first wrote and spoke about the “paradox of choice” in the early 2000s, he was grappling with the cute problems of an analog world, like how to sort through the varieties of jeans at a Gap, or how to choose among the bottles of olive oil at a supermarket. I wonder what he makes of our modern digital cornucopia of options and decisions, of all the choices beamed directly to our computer screens available for one-touch purchase. If he thought he had it tough then…

What is the paradox of choice?

Quick reminder: Schwartz’s idea is that, paradoxically, more choice is often worse for us, not better. It seems counter-intuitive — we like to be in control, we like it our way, right away, so the more options the better, right? Wrong.

Research continues to show that beyond some minimum threshold of optionality, more choice leads to trouble in three ways:

  1. Too much choice leads to paralysis, not liberation, as we try in vain to sort through options and make the “best” decision
  2. Too much choice leaves us less satisfied with our decision (when we can actually make one) because we’re confronted with a bewildering array of opportunity costs in the paths-not-taken
  3. Too much choice sometimes even leads us to make objectively worse decisions, because our brains grasp onto faulty heuristics to guide us through the data and variables.

The reality is, deciding is hard! Deciding requires cognitive effort, of which we have limited reserves. Ask Barack Obama, who as President of the United States was charged with making hundreds of critical decisions every day, and wisely found ways to reduce non-essential decision-making to a bare minimum. As he told Michael Lewis, he limited sartorial hemming and hawing to preserve energy: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits…I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

How does the paradox of choice effect recruiting?

So, imagine the double-edged sword of the modern recruitment marketplace. Job boards and social media have succeeded in aggregating jobs and job-seekers so that candidates are inundated with hundreds of what-might-have-beens and the-grass-might-be-greeners. And now, employers can often generate candidate pools into the thousands. The thousands! For a split second, this could sound like a recruiter’s utopia — and then the paradox of choice is front and center. The reality of stacks and stacks of CVs sinks in and we’re reminded of the scientific reality that this will almost certainly lead to a sense of paralysis, dissatisfaction, and poor decision-making.

Sure, you say, reviewing a thousand resumes would suck and might lead to a creeping dissatisfaction with whomever one ends up choosing. But does this proliferation of options actually lead to worse decisions?

More decisions = worse decisions

I’d argue yes, in most cases. When a recruiter or hiring manager is confronted with a thousand resumes, she or he must figure out a quick way to make sense of the pile, a strategy to quickly screen. Unfortunately, the most common strategy to triage a stack of resumes is to look for markers of familiarity, a thought process that sounds like, “Do I recognize the school names, do I recognize the company names, does this person seem like ‘us’?” Unfortunately, biases of this sort (which are often operating implicitly, not consciously) lead us to enshrine pedigree over ability and entrenches like-hiring-like, rather than diversity.

What can you do to simplify hiring choices?

At Shortlist, we’re hoping that our automated approach to screening big candidate pools will remove a large part of the bias creep and decision fatigue that hiring managers face as they grapple with the paradox of choice. Here are a few simple steps to reduce the number of choices you face on a daily basis, and improve your satisfaction with those decisions:

1. Establish upfront screening filters

For most positions, there are certain factors that are necessary to function in the role — things like speaking a local language, having a certain salary range or being willing to relocate. By pinpointing and filtering for these basic must-haves, you significantly cut down on your number of options to consider for a role, and save yourself the time of getting to know a candidate who ultimately couldn’t accept an offer or succeed on the job. We use an automated chatbot that asks candidates questions regarding basic fit (location, salary range, etc.). If they don’t fit the must-haves, we don’t advance them through to the next round.

2. Use competency-based assessments to identify top performers

Whenever possible, test applicants with competency-based assessments or case studies instead of relying on CVs and unstructured interviews to make hiring decisions. Generating data points on performance will help you objectively rank a long list of candidates and ease the stress of making choices.

3. Present decision-makers with essential information only

Whether you’re a recruiter sharing a list of candidates with a client, or a talent acquisition head who needs the hiring manager to make a decision, chances are at some point in the recruiting process you will be sharing information on candidates with others. Think about how much information you need to share on each candidate to help them make smart decisions without the stress. At Shortlist, rather than include every one of the hundreds of data points we collect on candidates, we share the important stuff while holding enough back to create a subtle sense of “magic” when the candidate who shows up for an interview is just right.

This article originally ran on People Matters.