Sourcing School by RecruitingDaily

Euan and Woody's Journey in Reinventing Recruitment with Willo

October 27, 2023 Brian Fink, Ryan Leary, and Shally Steckerl
Sourcing School by RecruitingDaily
Euan and Woody's Journey in Reinventing Recruitment with Willo
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what it's like to start a tech startup in the middle of a pandemic? Join us as we engage in a riveting conversation with Andrew "Woody" Wood and Euan Cameron, the minds behind Willo, a recruitment tech startup born out of necessity and innovation during the COVID-19 crisis. Drawing from their personal experiences in recruitment, they shed light on the birth of Willo, the challenges they faced, and how the pandemic propelled the adoption of video quizzes in recruitment, changing the game entirely.

Imagine a future where AI tools streamline the recruitment process, identifying potential hires in record time. That's the world Willo envisions, and Ewan and Andrew are here to tell us how they plan to make it happen.

Special mini series recorded with Oleeo at HR Tech 2023 with hosts Ryan Leary, Brian Fink, and Shally Steckerl.


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Speaker 1:

All right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends of all ages, welcome to Olio's recruiting daily podcast man. So many intros that I got to do for this thing right. So we are in the talent acquisition content lounge at HRTech here in Las Vegas. It is sponsored and powered by Olio, your source for data-driven automated recruitment for ATS, crm's, internet and Internet interviews and events. I'm joined by my co-host, ryan Leary. That sounds like a personally written commercial.

Speaker 2:

It was personalized. Right, it was personalized, it was personalized.

Speaker 1:

Speaking of personalized, do you want to introduce?

Speaker 2:

us to our two next guests.

Speaker 1:

I do, I do. These are two guys. That, how long has it?

Speaker 2:

been. I've been here for a long time. How long has it been? A couple years?

Speaker 3:

Three years.

Speaker 2:

Three years Three years I've been talking to them, never met them. It was the first time. First time I'm seeing them in person, which is cool. They've got great logo.

Speaker 1:

Great logo.

Speaker 2:

that's on your boat. That's on my boat. I love it. I love it, I do. I need to get a bigger one.

Speaker 1:

I need a bigger one.

Speaker 2:

I need a bigger boat. No, no, it's got to fit in the garage.

Speaker 1:

We're going to need a bigger boat.

Speaker 2:

If I come home with a bigger boat, I will not have a family.

Speaker 4:

Is that something you're willing to do?

Speaker 2:

I mean I don't hate the answer. That's a difficult question. I appreciate that it's what you should be asking Bigger boat or family, I can do a lot with a boat. The family is restricted. I shouldn't say that Wow.

Speaker 1:

All right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Brian Finkalheim.

Speaker 2:

No longer joined by Ryan Leary. I'm kidding. So yeah, so we've got Ewan and we've got Andrew, or you go by Drew, woody, woody.

Speaker 4:

Woody Go by. Woody, there you go.

Speaker 2:

I even changed my badge, you did you crossed it out From Willow. Hello, what's going on guys?

Speaker 3:

It's awesome to be here. Yeah, our first time in the US.

Speaker 2:

Your first time in the US Ever.

Speaker 1:

Wow, okay, and you picked Vegas.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

This is special.

Speaker 3:

Vegas HR tech event in the world. We were quite excited.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, I mean this is definitely the place to be and it's the right time for you guys to be here and to be having a conversation not only with Recruiting Daily but, more importantly, with our audience. Today, as we were kind of talking in the preview or the pre-show I'm doing air quotes for those of you who know that this is a video podcast. I mean an audio podcast we were having a conversation about the vibe on the floor and what's going on and what the big topics are, and then it came out that y'all actually have a background in recruiting, not just technology to solve a recruiting problem. Who wants to talk about the life of a recruiter to founder of a tech company Like who wants to talk about that first?

Speaker 4:

I'm happy to.

Speaker 1:

Leave it a little bit.

Speaker 4:

Thank you All right. Thanks, woody, are you listening? Yeah, so.

Speaker 1:

Are you listening, whoa.

Speaker 4:

So, yeah, working in recruitment is really hard actually Almost harder than starting a tech business from scratch, genuinely. So I worked in recruitment for 11 years, working in grad recruitment with Rundstad. Most people have heard of Rundstad. I actually worked for a smaller division over Rundstad, A company called Pareto shout out to Pareto. Absolutely loved my time there, but obviously you were talking about a candidate that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I have a candidate that I just closed. I'm pretty excited, yeah.

Speaker 4:

So congrats, good news, thank you. But I think there's so many similarities between and this is me being genuinely honest between being a recruiter and actually starting your own company, the reason being, like recruitment just never stops, never sleeps. You can't turn your phone off. Candidates are always wanting to talk to you at all times of the day and you have to be absolutely on it. There's no difference between that and running your own business. Really, and actually I think the fact that, so if anybody is in recruitment thinking, ah, do you know what? I'd really like to switch over to the tech world and do something like that, like, absolutely, you have an amazing grounding and an addiction to working really hard right, and that will set you up to be a successful tech founder, then what you need is somebody that's clever like Ewan to actually join you and do the hard stuff To make it work, yeah absolutely so I can do the sales, I can work really hard.

Speaker 1:

We're going to hit you with that beer. Ewan is now sitting in the way of a champagne trolley. What?

Speaker 4:

are they doing Over here?

Speaker 1:

First trip to the United States and there's a champagne trolley.

Speaker 4:

Oh man.

Speaker 2:

Wait till you see all the buffets and you'll see why Americans look the way we do. So let's talk more about Willow. So you guys kicked this off. How long now?

Speaker 3:

January 2020.

Speaker 1:

Oh, what a time to start a company.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, three months of normality, and then COVID hit yeah yeah, we got our first client February 2020 and we were absolutely stoked. We were like, yes, bang 40 bucks in the bank.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was a tiny little client.

Speaker 4:

We thought, yeah, and the men, everything's shut down. And then three months later, after March, everybody suddenly goes oh shit, we got rid of everyone, we got everyone and now we've got a hire again and we can't meet anyone. But luckily everybody's doing Zoom video quizzes with their cousins twice removed, so they're suddenly comfortable with video, right, and that's when it just went through the roof. Adoption just completely changed.

Speaker 1:

So about the adoption and what you've been doing at Willow, you talked about the problem that you're solving. How has that problem changed now that we live in an environment where candidates are using generative AI to really kind of game the system?

Speaker 3:

That's a great question and it's obviously been in our radar for a while. But what's interesting about Willow is that we're recording candidates on camera. We're recording their immediate responses to questions, and you just can't create that with AI right now. You can't immediately get the question. You can't then read the script without it being obvious on camera. So we have this real benefit that we're capturing everything about the candidate on camera. You can see them, you can hear them, you can see where their eyes are looking, you can see all their interactions, and that really rules out a lot of the generative AI. You know script reading stuff that you might expect to see. We just capture it all. There's a lot of data points that you can read from those Willow video interviews which are just not possible to be created through chat. Do you think, for example and I think the other thing on that- is right.

Speaker 4:

If somebody manages to assimilate the information that chatjbt gives you in an instant and then deliver a convincing video interview, right that they go. Oh, this guy definitely did. A guy, a girl didn't use generative AI to answer that question, so they did. That's the person you want in your company, because in three years, they're going to be the calculators of the future. Right, that is the skills you need. You need somebody in your company that can use this stuff to the point where it looks like they're not. That's my opinion when it comes to like in our world. Frictionless, absolutely yeah, and if it's authentic if they use it to guide their answer but not give it. You know, all of that stuff means that person's going to come into your business. They're going to be super literate in AI and they're going to help you supercharge the company. So to me it's like a no-brainer actually hiring those people.

Speaker 2:

So you made a point about the eye contact. There's an app, it's called Descript. Yeah, have you seen that? Yeah, it's cool. That's pretty fun. That's pretty cool. What does this do? So look at the camera, but you can read, I can look at you and it makes me look at him.

Speaker 3:

Oh, it moves your eyes and moves your eyes.

Speaker 2:

So if I was going to interview. I'd literally just read it off here and it makes me look here. Yeah, that's interesting.

Speaker 3:

What's cool about that? As well, as the Willow doesn't actually allow you to use that kind of technology, so our camera capture technology is native we're capturing the camera from that person's device, from right.

Speaker 2:

So it doesn't allow it to. It's rules are a lot of that, right, but it is a cool technology yeah.

Speaker 3:

If you're a candidate with ADHD and you're going into a live interview.

Speaker 4:

It's really difficult to.

Speaker 1:

I was going to ask about this. Yeah, what accommodations do we make for somebody who's neurodivergent?

Speaker 4:

Well, as a neurodivergent myself, we make quite a lot within Willow, so our obsession has always been for the candidate experience to be the best possible experience first.

Speaker 1:

Love that.

Speaker 4:

From my perspective, it's great if you've got something that really helps recruiters essentially assess all of the candidates. But what's even better is if you get a really great candidate experience that goes along with that, because then you get more candidates to choose from, whereas if you have a real loads of friction and it's really difficult and you've got ADHD or dyslexia or whatever it may be and you just drop out of the process, then your pool's just getting too small and you're not actually delivering any diversity. So we have things like our thinking time. It automatically rolls on so you can still complete your interview regardless. It just notifies somebody. So on dyslexic, I would never go to an employer and say, hey, I really need some extra time, because I'm dyslexic Because immediately there's unconscious bias. So we build it into the platform so they can give a quality answer and then the recruiter can. A discerning, well-trained recruiter can go. Hey, they went a minute over, but it's a really great answer. Maybe I should ask them if actually they needed reasonable adjustment. So it's kind of trying to flip it around in a different way.

Speaker 1:

So making those accommodations based upon the human element and bringing some of the humanity back to recruiting.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely yeah, and making those adjustments without the candidate having to tell anybody. So the candidate just makes the adjustment themselves in the platform. They aren't having to go through this sort of friction of going to a set. There's organizations that have reasonable adjustment teams that you have to go in contact. Yeah, it's a whole process.

Speaker 1:

And we talked about this being frictionless and inviting and candidate first and candidate centric, going through all those accommodations. Yeah, you're shaking your head.

Speaker 4:

It's not worth it.

Speaker 3:

We can speak personally from our experience for both dyslexic and neither of us, when we were younger, requested additional time or additional support in our exams. We just went to school, did the exams, suffered and suffered, got lower grades than we would have otherwise got, and that's because there was too much friction. We didn't want to be like hey look, I'm dyslexic, give me extra time.

Speaker 4:

Well, please read my resume in a different way to other people. Yeah, because it's terrible. It's got thousands of spelling errors.

Speaker 2:

And I can't structure a proper name Exactly. You know it's one of my, a couple of my dogs. Two of them have the same challenge in school, but they give them extra time. So now they have that in school. They give them extra time, smaller groups, they pull them up and it has changed their life in school. It really has changed their life. Prior to that, forget it. Every night was just I mean sit down and do it. I mean sit down and just the idea of doing math homework, forget it. Or reading spelling, forget it. It was over. It was over. Not that way anymore. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So about things that are not that way anymore. Video interviewing for the longest time, I feel like you've got a bad rap Right, like we're nodding our heads, we're shaking our heads, we're thinking about the use cases that say this incurs bias. This creates a. This creates a. It disenfranchises candidates. How does Willow broaden that spectrum, if you will, or broaden that pool of candidates by creating that great candidate experience?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it's a really great question and absolutely fundamental to what makes us different to other video platforms. I feel like the platforms of old that have given video interviewing a bad rap. They are the ones that focused on I don't know if it's the right word, but discriminating candidates to make a decision quicker, Right.

Speaker 1:

Sure.

Speaker 4:

So I'm not going to focus on the candidate experience. I'm going to focus on making it difficult for them to be good so that I can get to a smaller number quicker, whereas what we want to do is we want to give every candidate the opportunity to get their voice across, be understood etc. And then give the recruits of the tools to assimilate that information quickly through things like AI summaries etc.

Speaker 1:

Talking about the AI summary. Tell me more about that, please.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So at the moment, what we're doing is we're developing our generative AI, and what we believe is, again passionately, that a human should be making a decision, not the AI. That's just our stance on it. So what we want to do is we're going to transcribe all of the interviews. We're then going to summarize them into short candidate you know, almost like a resume based on their answer that they gave on the video, right. But then, more importantly, what we want to do with our AI is then give the recruiters some guidance around. Hey, we didn't hear much of this in their answer. This was kind of missing this element. This was maybe weakness, pro-deepness. Go into here. These are the questions you should be asking. So you supercharge it because you go this is a candidate I really like, but I wonder what their weaknesses are. I wonder what's missing, where do I need to ask the questions? And we go hey, this is where you should spend your time, you know, screening the candidate.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and how do you do that? Like I mean, that's text-based, that's audio-based yeah, how do you? I'm not asking you to spill the secret sauce here, like we had the guys on from Raising Cain, and they sell sauce by the 32-ounce container, but can you tell us a little bit how the AI works to do that? And then I got a follow-up question. I want to ask you about search.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so all of our questions in Willow are text, audio or video, but once you obviously transcribe them, everything's text-based. We work with all the transcription, all the text-based transcriptions, and then we're essentially doing like a gap analysis. So our prompts are looking for gaps where the candidate maybe didn't cover a topic very much, they maybe were a bit wooly on their answer, or whether it was just no answer, it wasn't a very strong response to the question. Yeah, we're then flagging those gaps, if you want to call it that, and then saying, hey, you should dig into this, you should delve into this a little bit more. We've done the hard work as well. We've captured, you know, round one interview, if you want to put it that way, round one is done. And, by the way, here's a gap, here's a gap, here's a gap. Go, delve into that one live interview.

Speaker 1:

So I don't know this because I'm not using your tool. So this is coming from a pretty vulnerable place. Yeah, I'm a sorcerer first. I'm a recruiter second. Can I search for the word Python in all of the interviews that have taken place for developers and engineers, the same way that I would be able to look inside my database?

Speaker 4:

You will be able to next year.

Speaker 1:

Okay, absolutely.

Speaker 4:

So it's not live yet, but H1 next year absolutely. You'll be able to go in and just across every single video interview that you have type in Python and find everybody that ever mentioned it.

Speaker 1:

Okay because you know I sit here and I think you know a candidate. I could be interviewing a candidate for data science and we just have a casual conversation about Python and R and in its casual right, and then I ask them different questions about cloud technology because that's part into the role I'm interviewing for at the time. But they were silver medalists, Absolutely. How could I go back and find that individual? Absolutely, absolutely.

Speaker 4:

That's, you know, silver medalists. It's for us the beauty, the challenge of doing telephone interviews rather than doing this kind of one-way video interview is your telephone interview is gone, that's it. It's evaporated. It's memory and notes in a CRM at best right.

Speaker 3:

At best it's human-entered information.

Speaker 4:

With us, you have an audit trail of all these silver medalists where you can go hey, who came second in that last role? And how do I find and surface all of these people in the future? Like to me, it's just bonkers that you wouldn't have that accessible, really vibrant data about somebody.

Speaker 1:

And then you have to restart the process.

Speaker 2:

but instead of restarting the process, you've got those answers to your questions, but then the search is taking you to the timestamp of where it is in the video. Exactly Right, you're just starting there, so you watch that. You can then watch Exactly.

Speaker 3:

You can watch 15 seconds before you get the context. You can watch the video afterwards. Or it might be an audio answer Don't forget this is also audio answers or it might be text answers. They might have answered a big paragraph attack as well. They can search all of that.

Speaker 1:

All right, and we talked about an AI summary. How does that work? Does anybody want to touch that? Or is that secret sauce?

Speaker 3:

So that is still secret sauce and the reason it's secret sauce, and I'll give you the background to that. So we do just around a million interviews in the past 12 months, so a million candidates. It's a lot of data, as you'd imagine. Each candidate is answering about five questions on video, so five times a million, a lot of data. What we're trying to do at the moment is figure out how do we summarize that data best, based on the past 12 months, and we need to get to an accurate point. We can't just summarize candidates and say that's it. It needs to actually be reflective of the whole answer, or all of the answers. So there's quite a lot of work still to be done there. So secret sauce at the moment. But 2024 is our AI year and that's when everything AI focused on comes to the platform.

Speaker 1:

Alright, so you mentioned 2024. I want to dial into that a little bit deeper. We talked at the top of the call about UIs being recruiters first and that you became technologists and built Willow to kind of solve your own problem. What do you see happening for recruiters in 2024? What trends do they need to stay on top of so that they can be the best version of themselves?

Speaker 3:

So the big one that we're seeing is efficiency. How can you make your job more efficient? So obviously, things like AI. How do you make your job more efficient, better use of time, more productive in the hours that you're actually working? Large part of the stuff that we're doing at Willow is exactly that, so it's helping them in 2024 with their typically smaller team potential in 2024. My slimed down Sallie, how do you continue to be as productive and efficient as possible with a Sallie-type or TA team? And that's things like you know. Great technology helping you get to the right decisions quicker, make the best use of your time. So productivity is a big thing for 2024.

Speaker 1:

Right, what you got, buddy.

Speaker 2:

I'm loving it, man. I've been following this journey since day one.

Speaker 4:

And I think it's yeah, we love you for that.

Speaker 2:

I think you guys are doing amazing and seeing. I mean, there's a lot of video companies that are out here. I think their journeys have been. They're a little longer right. But I think it's very different. I think you guys are a very different team than where they're at, so congrats on the journey.

Speaker 4:

I think you guys are doing a good job. We're going to be the last mover. That's what you want to be.

Speaker 2:

The last mover. Okay, you're just the last mover and you're going to do it right.

Speaker 3:

We don't have to meet the same mistakes, and I think that's an important note.

Speaker 4:

We probably could have put a load of AI stuff in the platform already and really done a bad job of it and not listen to what people actually want and need, and that's why we're going to. Next year is the year we're going to be the last mover and take over the world.

Speaker 1:

Okay, world domination. What are we, hey, brian? What are we going to do today?

Speaker 3:

We're going to do the same thing we always do, pinky.

Speaker 1:

We're going to take it over the world. So, having said that, is there any question that we didn't ask you, either about Willow or about your personal journey that you feel is pertinent to share with our audience? I want to give you that part and that area to make space.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, best thing that I can say is, obviously we're giving recruiters AI tools next year, which is big. You know there's a lot of data in the platform. We need to start making that useful and productive, trimming that down. The other piece that's very exciting is we're bringing scorecards in next year. Oh so, scorecards custom scorecards You're going to put in the criteria so, as a recruiter, you can define the criteria that you will assess all your candidates on. But we'll also be giving you templates so you can come and say, hey, willow, I need a template to assess this person on. You know they're going to be a senior sales hire for us Consistency in the process. Yeah, so not only are you then doing consistent questions and answers, but you're also then doing consistent scoring comparison. So that's again a huge part of what we're talking about next year when I say productivity being efficient with your time, being efficient with your scorecards as well. So we're going to bake these scorecards in. It'll be very easy for you to answer the scorecards as well. So, as a recruiter, you can just click through. You can click through, you can draft those as well, so you don't need to save it. But it's also saving, and when you're ready, you submit it. Everyone in your team does the same thing, all your hiring managers. Data is coming in, it's all flowing in, and then it just says, hey, this is the candidate's score highest and you can compare them all like for like.

Speaker 2:

And now, as that, as you get a lot of those in, you have a million interviews that last one month. Let's say you get a million of these over the next 12 months. You can then say people scoring here generally, performing here Correct, yeah, so it's a bit of a long play.

Speaker 3:

This, yeah, all of this is long play. You can't do all the things we're talking about next year without years worth of data Right.

Speaker 2:

This is good man, I'm excited this has been a great conversation.

Speaker 1:

It's been. It's been noisy here on the floor. There's an energy in the room. There's an energy in this conversation. I want to thank Woody, I want to thank you and thank you both for joining us. Thank you for making candidates have a better experience. I'm Brian, he's Ryan. We're here in the Olio talent acquisition content Mostuted now loading.

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