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Revolutionizing HR Functions Via AI in Retail Recruitment

Low employment, changes in workers’ work-life balance preferences, and difficulties finding qualified candidates are challenging retailers and brands. Fortunately, new AI-powered platforms can help HR managers.

Here, Barb Hyman, founder and chief executive officer of Sapia.ai, discusses the challenges and opportunities for retailers and brands from an HR perspective and how technology can address workforce issues and improve hiring practices.

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WWD: What are the challenges facing retailers and brands with recruiting and other HR functions?

Barb Hyman: With unemployment staying low for the foreseeable future (3.7 percent), and hourly workers prepared to move roles for a few dollars more, building a hiring “machine” that works for both sides of the process is business critical. AI-enabled hiring automation, which uses simple chatbots to filter for basic [qualifications], has been around for a few years, which means retailers can hire in an hour or a day. The challenge with this approach is it is just delivering a faster status quo, with a revolving door of employees.

Many retailers now recognize the considerable cost of hiring someone who can “fog a mirror” rather than genuinely evaluating candidates for job fit and brand fit. More intelligent AI hiring tools, like [Sapia.ai’s] Chat Interview, mean you no longer have to trade off quality for speed.

For the higher-end retailers and consumer brands, they care as much about the experience every candidate has as the quality of the people they hire. This is because you are likely to be rejecting six-figure volumes of candidates, most of whom are also your customers. The link between a poor candidate experience and revenue loss was established years ago by Virgin Mobile, [which] conducted a deep study to validate the revenue impact of a poor candidate experience.

WWD: And how does that relate to service?

B.H.: For those high-end retailers or any brand that prides itself on great service, winning the best candidates means a winning candidate experience. That means no ghosting, no funny tricks or games, and definitely ensuring the whole experience is mobile-friendly.

Appealing to the whole target market makes sense for anyone hiring scarce talent, but especially for consumer brands who pride themselves on having teams representing the diversity of their customer base. That means using ethical AI to interrupt our human biases and limiting video screening, which creates a higher risk of bias in screening and eludes many who don’t trust, enjoy, or feel safe speaking to a one-way video camera.

WWD: How does your AI platform work and address these challenges?

B.H.: Sapia.ai has invented Chat Interview, a technology that brings you people who belong with your brand. Close to 4 [million] candidates across 47 countries have experienced it and 99 percent love it. When your rejected candidates say they will leave a great review on Glassdoor, you know you have solved for a truly memorable and dignifying experience, not just a process.

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