First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: I’m glad to have my family safe and sound during this time. These past few months have taught us all how to be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted.
I’m also glad to inform you that the entire Talview family has reacted very well to these challenges and have done a great job of taking care of their families and also the business family.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded Talview
Sanjoe Tom Jose: I’m a co-founder and the CEO of Talview. Talview is headquartered in San Mateo and is my third startup and the second in the HR space.
I grew up in a remote village in India. My parents are social entrepreneurs running an NGO for women empowerment, where I did a lot of volunteering while growing up. I did most of my schooling there and graduated from IIT-Bombay. I’ve always wanted to do something on my own and make an impact but took up a regular corporate job after graduation. Things changed for me when my son was born in 2012. I was working at National Instruments and had a job offer from Google at that time. I felt it would be too late if I waited further and launched my first proper venture – MerryWheels. This was a pre-owned car portal in India. We ran it for more than a year and had to exit the space due to stiff competition.
I founded another startup called Interview Master along with the same co-founding team as Talview. This was an interviewing platform. We were trying to sell to mid-market customers across the globe and had raised two rounds of funding. We had excellent early traction but soon realized that the space is very new — building a large enough company in that space would be tough. Our goal was to build a large enterprise software company.
We decided to work with an investor here in the US to provide an exit to all the investors in that company. We shut down that company and then started Talview. That’s how Talview came into being back in 2017. The vision for Talview is to create a level playing field for every individual to build the best career for themselves. Growing up in rural India and spending time at an NGO helping women to stand on their feet, I was very familiar with the challenges people need to overcome to realize their true potential.
The primary insight behind Talview is based on our previous experience at Interview Master. We realized that while enterprises focus on different hiring metrics when it comes to talent acquisition, time-to-hire has a significant impact on other key hiring metrics like quality of hire, cost of hire, and candidate experience.
For example, the best candidate is available in the market for only 10 days. If you have a hiring process, the industry average is around 45 days. Your ability to hire the best candidate is significantly limited. Here, time-to-hire becomes very critical. Another important statistic is that 6 out of 10 candidates who drop off from the hiring funnel attributes it to a lengthy hiring process. That means that candidate experience is also significantly driven by time to hire.
The higher the time you spend in your funnel, the higher the resources spent in your hiring process leading to a higher cost of hiring. We wanted to create a platform that would enable enterprises to take control of their recruiting process by taking control of time-to-hire. When we looked at the recruitment technology stack, then, the original piece of technology being utilized was the Applicant Tracking System.
Apart from tracking and reporting, recruitment was still non-digitized. Hiring mainly happened offline, with very little automation. We wanted to build a layer of digitization on top of the existing applicant tracking system. We could help enterprises to drastically bring down time-to-hire. That’s how Talview came to be. This is a new category that we’re building, and we call it the Instahiring Experience Platform. The focus is on helping large enterprises bring down time-to-hire drastically by creating a candidate experience similar to the ones for consumer experience.
How does Talview Innovate?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: One of the first questions that recruiters and recruitment leaders that come up these days are that hiring won’t pick up in the next 6-9 months. So what should we do? Should we wait for things to get back up and probably hibernate, or use this time to relook at our recruitment architecture from both technology and process standpoint? Should we even look from people’s standpoints and see what can be done differently?
Two things are fundamentally changing post this current crisis:
- Remote teams are going to become a reality. The way you hire, the candidate pools you get access to, the skillsets you need look for changes as digital skills will become a critical requirement for any role going forward.
- The second thing is that there will be an impact on the economy. Many believe that in the mid to long term future that there will be a significant downturn and associated impact. So, how will organizations react and what will be your panel’s hiring strategy and architecture.
We have had similar phases in the company before where we have been able to work and successfully help companies who invested in technology in such times when hiring is on a low to use that additional bandwidth to relook at their architecture and redefine the way things are done so that they are better equipped in the coming 6-9 months when they come out of this current phase. Our customers like Amazon, HCL, Cognizant, Aditya Birla, and ENEL are a few such examples.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: The COVID-19 pandemic is harsh. But it made everyone all over the world realize that there is a digital solution in the market for almost everything. People started working remotely, and employers began requesting employees to work from home. Given the scenario, Talview witnessed a surge in demand for our remote hiring solutions, such as video interviews and remote proctoring to automate their recruitment process. We also saw an increase in usage of our Instahiring platform by our customers for quick and seamless virtual hiring.
Not just organizations, we also saw a huge spike in demand from the education sector for our remote proctoring solutions. From March onwards, we saw high demand for proctored examinations for schools and certification providers for both finals examinations as well as admissions. Education providers, especially from Southeast Asia, Europe, and the US, reached out in high numbers to find online solutions for their curriculums.
We saw that this another opportunity for us to build something which is very strongly aligned with our vision and created a new solution package, called Instacampus, for our prospects from the Education sector. It includes our online assessments platform, our AI-led remote proctoring software, and video interviewing capabilities and enables affordable education, anytime-anywhere.
Talview now has some of the biggest names in the Education sector as our customers, e.g., Eastern Washington University, Total Safety, City & Guilds, Digipen Institute of Technology, XLRI, NITIE, and more.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: While in hindsight it was the right decision and helped us to double the number of customers in less than a quarter, there were a lot of concerns at that time on whether the same team will be able to manage another product line. And while the underlying technology platform is the same, whether we can successfully design and launch a new offering while also maintaining the transition to remote work.
We decided to take the plunge because our regular enterprise customers (using our Instahiring platform) were not sure whether their hiring would pick up anytime soon. At the same time, the demand from the education space continued to grow. And more importantly, we knew that space had a strong alignment with our core vision but was not yet ready for adoption. Covid-19 forced them to change, and timing was right. Hence, we decided to take the plunge, and the team did very well to execute the plan we put together.
As a team, we learned a lot in the last few months and are more confident than ever to take on any new challenge posed to us. We launched a Covid Response Plan (CRP) for Talview. One of the first things we did was setting up vertical and horizontal teams to work on key priorities to make the transition possible without distractions or delays. Then, we set up daily standup calls for the entire organization because we realized it is very critical to keep everyone on the same page during such times. We also built new dashboards to help the entire organization track the most critical metrics. And as we witnessed a high surge in demand for video interviewing and online assessments for hiring or education, our teams were working through the weekends to ensure quality support for our clients.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Talview in the Future?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: When you are running a fast-growing company, new challenges are showing up all the time. The key is not to get consumed by individual problems and to stay focused on the bigger picture. I have chosen for myself a few key metrics that help me to track if we are making enough progress and if there are any major threats which we need to address on priority.
I also actively invest in upskilling myself and also ensure that I am not ignoring my own physical and mental wellbeing. And lastly, looking back once in a while and celebrating the progress made in my small way helps a lot.
I have a great bunch of people in the organization who are proactively working for the smooth functioning of our organization, be it in any kind of situation. Take the example of this pandemic.
Four months have passed since the changes, and we are seeing that hiring is picking up slowly, and we see a big focus on the remote workforce from now. Our Instahiring Experience Platform is uniquely positioned to help organizations make this transition, and we see very strong demand for our solution. Now we have two sails on our ship, and our customer base is growing faster than ever. A young executive team has shown incredible flexibility and agility to manage the reins of two horses.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Sanjoe Tom Jose: Talview is designed to cater to the mobile-first internet user of the 21st century who is accustomed to virtual methods of communication by providing an exceptional experience. Most of our competition is limited to either video interviewing or remote proctoring or assessments as space. It doesn’t have a solution that combines these capabilities with a single-minded focus on digitizing the entire candidate experience and delivering significant time and cost savings.
Apart from that, what makes Talview stand apart from its competitors is its use of Artificial Intelligence for hiring. The use of computer vision and NLP automates many manual tasks and removes the need for human intervention. Our AI assistance also helps in objective and predictive decision-making, along with deep engagement and analytics.
With a variety of options available for video interviewing and assessments, Talview ensures that our customers get a variety of options to choose from. On top of that, we integrate with some leading Applicant Tracking Systems, Learning Management Systems, third party assessment tools like HackerEarth, scheduling tools like Calendly, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams etc. to provide a seamless user experience and better control over the outcome.
Your Final Thoughts
Sanjoe Tom Jose: These last four months have made a critical impact on the way organizations and people behave. The importance of virtual hiring solutions has only magnified, given the remote work requirements. We look forward to working with the recruitment and Edutech ecosystems and be a part of their digital transformation journey.
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