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Hiring surge helps HR tech capital raising over the line despite virus

BY Barbara Hyman


PredictiveHire – In the press

An Australian tech firm that uses artificial intelligence to quickly filter job applicants has managed to successfully complete a Series B fundraising round, despite financial markets catching coronavirus last month.

Melbourne-based PredictiveHire finalised the $3 million raise, led by recruiter Hudson with returning venture investors Rampersand and Capital Zed, just after bans on mass gatherings were announced and segments of the economy began shutting down.

“Some of our FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] retailers, contact centres and emergency services clients have been getting thousands of applications per vacancy in the past couple of weeks, and they need a tool that can filter them quickly but with humanity,” Ms Hyman said.

PredictiveHire claims to have nine of the ASX 100 among its clients, including Wesfarmers-owned Bunnings, who use its software-as-a-service to text questionnaires to the mobile phones of job applicants.

Encouraging 50 to 100-word answers to a handful of questions like ‘what is a change in your life that has happened to you and how did you deal with that change?’, PredictiveHire runs each submission through an engine that performs a branch of artificial intelligence called natural language processing. Built on 25 million words texted back by 350,000 applicants for previous jobs, PredictiveHire claims its engine – run by co-founder Buddhi Jayatilleke, who built the data science team of human resources tech unicorn CultureAmp – can automatically provide hirers with the applicants that best suit their pre-set criteria.

Avoiding Bias

“There’s a lot of ways people can game CVs, but it’s the words and responses to relevant questions that give a real insight into a candidate’s suitability,” Ms Hyman said. She admitted there was little the start-up could do about applicants who get someone else to answer the questions for them but relied on that being picked up by the phone calls or face-to-face group interviews that followed on from PredictiveHire providing its shortlist.

“It’s designed so that your best chance of success is being yourself,” Ms Hyman claimed. If English is your second language, there’s no need to worry because we’re not biased against that, or race or gender or address or any of those factors that work against diversity when hirers take the CV-reading approach,” she said. For the thousands of applicants that will inevitably be unsuccessful as the COVID- 19 crisis raises unemployment, PredictiveHire provides automated feedback including six insights into their personality and a coaching tip for future interviews.

“Even in a usual year, the big hirers reject in six figures, and these people are also their customers,” Ms Hyman said. “They want to give them a good experience and constructive feedback, but there’s no way that’s going to be done consistently for every candidate using manual processes.”

PredictiveHire will use the $3 million injection, which takes its total raised to $5 million since launching two years ago, to further its push into graduate recruiting. This more sophisticated process, only possible as its proprietary data bank of words had grown, was still in demand even as the pandemic stalled markets, according to Ms Hyman. “Good employers can see to the end of this and still want the best talent as it becomes available,” she said.

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