Leadership

Meet the robot that's hiring humans for some of the world's biggest corporations

Robot Vera
Courtesy Stafory
Robot Vera

The Russian startup Stafory is using Robot Vera, an AI-based software technology, to recruit and hire humans. Co-founders Vladimir Sveshnikov, 28, and Alexander Uraksin, 30, developed the technology after calling and screening over 1,500 people in ten days for vacant positions at a warehouse.

"We were exhausted from this work and needed a change," Uraskin tells CNBC Make It.

In 2016, Robot Vera was born. According to the creators, Vera boasts clients like PepsiCo, Auchan, L'Oréal and Raiffeisen Bank and cuts the time and cost of recruitment by roughly one-third. Here's how it works: Vera is connected to five different job sites, including CareerBuilder, Superjob and Avito.

Once recruiters have an open position, they create a detailed job description of what the role entails, the skills needed and a script of interview questions. Vera downloads this information and scours online resumes and cover letters to find qualified candidates.

Stafory

Vera then calls applicants and says, "'I am Vera. I am a robot and I am calling on behalf of company X." Next, she asks candidates if they're still seeking a job. When they respond in the affirmative, Vera gives a rundown of the job description and sets up a video interview where she uses speech recognition to ask and answer questions about the position and the company. Candidates who excel in the interview are passed on to the company's HR manager for the final hiring decision.

The robot is particularly useful in quickening the vetting process for high-turnover blue-collar jobs like secretaries and restaurant waitstaff, as well as sales positions that require measurable skills, like sales managers or sales representatives, says Uraskin.

"What Vera can do in one working day, a traditional talent source would need to spend two weeks," he adds.

However, Uraskin notes that the software will not take away jobs from HR people. Rather, Vera performs the rote legwork that human recruiters don't enjoy doing. He explains that when reaching out to applicants on job boards, about 50 percent say they are no longer job hunting. As a result, it takes human recruiters almost 100 phone calls just to get nearly 20 solid candidates.

That's where Vera comes in. The robot can make thousands of calls a day and currently conducts about 50,000 interviews daily for Stafory clients. Vera also answers simple questions about the role, which frees up time for HR personnel, says Uraskin.

Unlike a human recruiter, Vera is available to make phone calls, answer questions and conduct interviews at any time of the day because it never has to attend meetings and doesn't require sleep. This also means that Vera is able to interact with candidates in different time zones, which is particularly beneficial for global companies.

From start to finish, Vera can find, call and interview an applicant within an hour, says Uraskin. But the total time depends on how strong of a job description and interview script the recruiter provides.

On the rare occasion a hiring manager doesn't like Vera's chosen candidates, the human recruiter can change the "qualifying questions" they previously gave the robot in order to target the right applicant, says the co-founder.

However, Vera does have its hang-ups. Uraskin admits that the software is not as successful at finding applicants for executive or managerial positions, which require more than just technical "hard skills."

"That is a very niche market," he explains. "I believe that the human in that space would be much more effective."

So far, Vera supports 68 languages including English, Russian and Arabic. The company has also added clients in the Middle East and started pilot projects in Europe and the U.S.

As for Vera, engineers are now training the robot to recognize emotions like stress and sarcasm during interviews. By year's end, Uraskin projects that the company will top $4 million in revenue.

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