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How This AI Start-Up Is Making The Interview Process More Human

Is the current interview system really the best way to get to know candidates?

When I first heard about Tradler, an AI travel start-up based in Barcelona, conducting their first round interviews for their summer intern positions at an Escape Room, I immediately thought to myself, “Ugghh — Millennials.

However, as time passed, the more I thought to myself, “Wow, they may be onto something.

Take a second and think about your own experiences with interviews.

  • When was the last time you went on one and spent the majority of the time with your guard down, acting like your true self?
  • When was the last time you went on one and had a chance to not only meet the whole team, but spend an entire day getting to know them?
  • When was the last time you went on one and instead of using pretty adjectives to describe how great your problem solving, leadership and teamwork skills are, you actually had a chance to demonstrate them?
  • When was the last time you went on one and had an ounce of fun?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say your answer for the four questions above is the same as mine — “Never.

Jasper Deprez, CEO and Founder of Tradler, is on a mission to change this, and in the process redefine the way companies hire new team members.

“Cover letters, résumés and interviews together tell us about a job candidate’s experience and how well they can communicate it, but they are still quite limited,” says Deprez. “They don’t show us how a person works, what their personality is like, or whether they would be a good fit for your organisation.

After the event I spend some time with Jasper and his team. We talked about the future of Tradler (which looks bright having just been selected as one of the ten start-ups out of a field of 400+ to take part in a 90-day Start-up Bootcamp in Amsterdam this summer), as well as the benefits from holding an event as part of their interview process.

Below are the five main lessons Jasper and his team learned from taking the interview process out of an office room, and putting it into an Escape Room.

1.The power of having the whole team take part in the decision making process:

“Like anyone, I have my blind spots, and some of the best feedback from the event came from our newest team members who learned something about a candidate that did not show up on paper. We have all heard stories about the CEO of a company asking the secretaries opinion of a candidate, and this experience helped us to take this to a whole new level.”

2. We had a chance to gauge how accurate our intuition was:

“Prior to the event we took notes on who we thought would perform well based off of their résumés and the brief conversations we had had with them. It turns out that the ones we had our eyes on, for the most part, were also the ones that performed well throughout the event. This let us that we are on the right track, and we would have never learned this if we had not taken the time to see the candidates work together to see if their profile and their actions were congruent.”

3. Having a large roladex of people we already know to draw from for future positions:

“This event was created specifically to find a summer intern and we were looking for certain skills and personality traits that would best fill that role. However, as we grow, we will have different needs and we now have a list of candidates that we know personally to follow-up with as time passes.”

4. The power of creating a community:

“We are a travel company and we are trying to break into an industry of heavy-hitters. We feel that the the AI machine learning platform we have developed which provides reliable, verified feedback and personalised activities for travellers in destinations all over the world sets us apart. But by hosting events like this we will be even stronger because we have learned the power of bringing people together.”

5. The power of creating special moments for college graduates:

“Prior to the event our team talked about not only the interview process, but also how important looking for a job is for soon-to-be graduates. This is a huge time in their lives and we all know how scary it can be.

That being said, we wanted to not only create an event we knew would be fun for potential job seekers, but by organising talks by leaders in the business community, including Carlota Estera, Managing Director of ISEI Business School (who helped organise the event) and Eric Bowman, VP of Digital Foundation at Zalando, we gave them a chance to get in front of people that can help foster their careers.”

Like any “start-up” fighting to become a “stay-up,” the road will be a long and only time will tell what the future may hold. But from the smiles on the faces of the 40 MBA candidates from ESEI Business School in attendance for the event, it is hard to think that for their rest of their careers, when they leave an interview, they will think to themselves — “Not bad, but not Tradler.

And that folks, is how you build a brand.

Check out the experience in the video below created by the good people over at I Am Barcelona

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