Applying for jobs is an arduous, painstaking process. Completing just a few applications can take hours, and oftentimes, an applicant may not even hear back from the recruiter on the other end of the screen. The system is wildly inefficient, and for the most part, it hasn’t changed in decades.
Paradox, a Phoenix-based tech firm, wants to overhaul the system. By employing artificial intelligence in their virtual assistant “Olivia,” Paradox has been able to revolutionize hiring practices and talent acquisition in its entirety.
“There are a lot of repetitive tasks that recruiters have had to do previously. About 80 percent of their time is spent on these repetitive tasks and 20 percent engaging with humans and talent. We wanted to flip that,” said Stephen Ost, vice president of product at Paradox. “We wanted recruiters to spend 80 percent of their time talking with talent and 20 percent of their time doing automated stuff. So Olivia’s real intention is to automate a lot of their repetitive tasks, to give humans more time to interact with humans. That’s kind of where the name ‘Paradox’ came from — the paradox is creating AI to give a more human experience.”
When candidates apply for jobs at Paradox’s partner companies, Olivia appears as a chatbot or SMS text widget. Olivia will ask the candidates questions tailored to the position, and the candidate can reply with answers and questions of his/her own. Olivia then screens that candidate throughout the conversation and schedules him/her for an interview automatically if they qualify for the position.
This accelerates the application process for candidates, but it also makes the recruitment process more productive for the employer, who can customize questions based on the requisites of the position.
In today’s tight job market, this is crucial for employers; according to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, 83 percent of businesses have struggled to find the right talent in the past 12 months. Olivia helps alleviate that problem.
“Olivia is having millions of conversations,” said Marc Chesley, COO of Paradox. “In fact, we see that if big organizations aren’t leveraging this technology, they’re going to be falling further and further behind, especially with the competitive labor market. It’s not just that type of, ‘Hey, this is going to give us a competitive advantage.’ Olivia makes a gigantic impact in brand reputation with candidates.”
Olivia assists companies throughout the on-boarding process, as well. Through her Candidate Care feature, Olivia can handle new hires’ daily administrative questions and even deliver any accompanying documents. Ost jokes that Olivia is the best employee — she never takes a day off.
Paradox currently assists over 200 companies with their hiring practices, including two of the top 10 employers in the nation. Some of their clients include Delta, CVS Health, Public Storage and Staples. Olivia has given these firms a noticeable advantage when hiring talent in today’s competitive labor market.
For example, Thomson Reuters recently utilized Olivia’s services in a college hiring event and scheduled 117 interviews in two days. Not only did the company have 98 percent of its candidates show up for interviews, but it also exceeded its goal of hiring 50 percent of its candidates.
“The results speak for themselves,” said Neeti Upreti, vice president of Thomson Reuters. “Where we’d hired only one to two students in past years, we far exceeded our goal by extending offers to 100 incredible candidates. Olivia gave us the chance to compete for this talent.”
Paradox prides itself on being local-based. 50 percent of the Paradox team graduated from a local university, and the staff is dedicated to developing the company in the area. In fact, Ost believes that Arizona is rapidly becoming a primary destination for tech firms.
“I think [Arizona] is growing really, really quickly,” Ost said. “There’s a lot of talent at ASU and U of A and other universities here, educating the students on AI. Also, cost of living is much better than San Francisco, so a lot of those people are moving here, as well. It’s just attracting many more talented individuals to come here, and many opportunities are opening up.”