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Interview

Meet HiPeople — the HR tech startup using data to disrupt recruitment

HiPeople wants to modernize reference checks.

Allie Nawrat

Technologist

HiPeople co-founder

Spoiler: More data and insights will make recruitment more effective. Unleash Your People

  • High quality recruitment is essential to a business’ bottom line.
  • While virtual recruitment using Zoom and Microsoft Teams has been successful, it doesn’t make the process more efficient.
  • Instead, German HR tech startup HiPeople believes its data-focused platform, which modernizes reference checks, is the answer to quality and productive recruitment.

Effective recruitment is central to a company’s success. Without a core team of skilled employees, it is really hard for companies to grow their business or brand, or develop, and improve their unique offerings.

Ultimately, companies need to ensure they are not just hiring anybody. They must do their best to recruit top quality talent and do this in a quick and seamless way.

This stops employers wasting money and can also enhance the company’s reputation as a good place to work, therefore ensuring they continue to attract the right talent into the future.

However, this is all much easier said than done. There are numerous challenges facing HR teams as they seek to attract and recruit the right quality talent – according to Berlin-headquartered recruitment startup HiPeople co-founder Jakob Gillmann, one of the main challenges is that “hiring pace outperforms team capacities”.

As companies go through growth phases — whether that is new customers, new geographies or funding rounds — “often it’s quite a stretch for talent acquisition and recruitment and recruiting teams”, explains Gillmann.

COVID-19 and recruitment

The challenges have only gotten bigger and more evident as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because HR teams were grappling with how to recruit candidates without the ability to meet them in person. “A lot of the [recruitment] processes [being used] were not built for the way we work now,” notes Gillmann.

 A study by Gartner found that 86% of organizations globally are conducting virtual interviews during the pandemic. This trend doesn’t look set to reverse – research by HireVue suggests virtual recruitment is here to stay.

However, simply moving interview processes online is not the panacea it may seem. Gillmann notes that “we talk to a lot of companies who are not feeling as confident with their hiring now as they were before”.

This is because, despite driving some efficiencies, virtual recruiting is still putting “a huge burden on existing processes” and talent acquisition teams.

It is now time to focus on candidate engagement. To achieve this, and drive more efficiencies to hiring teams’ day-to-day lives, there is a need to look beyond video conference software and towards specific recruitment tools.

HIPEOPLE: Data is key

There are a range of different products on the market to support companies’ unique needs.

For example, Oyster and Deel help companies hire from anywhere and manage distributed teams. While Ceredian and Bolster AI want to automate recruitment-related admin and interviewIA wants to remove bias from the recruitment process with the help of deep learning intelligence amplification technology.

However, Gilmann believes HiPeople’s offering stands out because it solves what he sees as the main problem facing recruitment teams: the lack of support, data, and insights.

“We see ourselves as an enablers that supports hiring managers and recruiters to make better hiring decisions,” explains Gillmann.

The company was founded in 2019 on the back of Gillmann and his co-founder Sebastian Schüller personally experiencing the “growing pains” of companies going through growth phases “and making the wrong decisions when it comes to hiring”.

However, this problem has only become more evident as so many companies are in hiring stealth mode as a result of COVID-19.

Spotlight on HiPeople’s reference checks

HiPeople’s software focuses on refences, because the company believes this is a “highly under utilized” data point. “Reference checks are a great source of knowledge and understanding about the candidates,” explains Gillmann.

This is because they make it easy “to understand [a candidate’s] strengths and weaknesses, their skill levels, and whether they will fit into the team”, so Gillman believes reference checks “really move the needle for recruitment”.

But they are stuck in the past – and are often overlooked for non-executive positions because of the “administration burden” of conducting them manually – so HiPeople is modernizing them and helping companies conduct 360 reference checks.

Because “we operate and orchestrate the whole process of requesting, collecting and analyzing references”, there is no extra work for the HR team.

In fact, HiPeople claims to save hiring teams 240 minutes per candidate. Its platform does this by enabling hiring managers, candidates, and their referees to submit data in an easy and seamless way.

The system then relies on AI and natural language processing to trigger follow up questions where a referee has been unclear or inconsistent with their answers. “This creates not just a lot more data, but very rich and deep data in terms of understanding how the referee thinks about the candidate,” notes Gillmann.

To make the use of HiPeople in recruitment even more seamless and easy for HR teams, Gillman explains that the platform integrates with the wider HR tech landscape.

Tackling bias and exclusivity head on

Since the collection of references using HiPeople doesn’t require recruiters or talent acquisition team to jump on a call with the referee – it just provides the end, objective data – this removes biases from the recruitment system.

Gillman believes part of the issue around recruitment bias is that many of those working in talent acquisition are not properly trained – but this isn’t an issue when dealing with the objective data.

In addition, not having to talk directly to recruiters about references during working hours is a real benefit for candidates and referees.

Gillmann explains that HiPeople gets a lot of feedback about the asynchronous nature of the process as references and candidates can just input the information “on their terms, whenever they want” and they can do it on their preferred device. This creates a great user experience for this user group.

Feeding into onboarding

HiPeople’s data-focused approach to reference checks also helps companies, in Gillman’s view, to feed into the onboarding process. Remember, hiring a candidate is only the beginning of their journey.

HiPeople’s reference checks then helps companies to onboard their hires successfully. Gillman explains this is because companies have even deeper insights into their strengths and weaknesses, areas where training and upskilling is needed and where they are already sufficiently competent.

Looking to the future, Gillmann has huge ambitions for HiPeople and is very clear that its data and insights are only going to become more and more essential to employers as they continue to grapple with remote hiring.

“Companies are looking for ways to close that gap of knowledge that they would normally fill with in-person meetings,” concludes Gilmann. “This is a gap we close with the insights and data we collect through reference checks.”

Recruiters everywhere are facing a series of challenges, many of which have been compounded by the pandemic. If one company is able to remove the friction from the process, they’ll certainly become a winner in the space. So, watch this space.  

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