Private-equity giant Carlyle bought a stake in a startup that uses AI to judge how much you smile in interviews, and now it's offering the tech for free to its portfolio companies


Matt Anderson Carlyle

  • As businesses shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of Americans have been left jobless.
  • Under shelter in place conditions, people are still looking for work and businesses are still looking to hire.
  • Private equity giant The Carlyle Group bought a majority stake in HireVue last year, and it’s offering HireVue’s platform to its portfolio companies for free during the pandemic.
  • Carlyle is looking to support its tech and business services companies that do either undergraduate or MBA recruiting.
  • HireVue is also offering its platform for free to hospitals during the pandemic.
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For finance and tech firms, spring recruiting will look a bit different this year.

As the coronavirus pandemic has universities shutting down and recruiters working under shelter in place conditions, companies that are looking to hire have to rethink their traditional methods of finding talent.

HireVue, a Utah-based startup that private-equity giant The Carlyle Group owns a majority stake in, offers employers the ability to evaluate candidates and conduct interviews online. And as more Americans are staying home to prevent the spread of the virus, industries in need of workers are using HireVue to recruit from afar.

“Customers are trying to virtualize every part of the hiring process,” said Kevin Parker, chairman and CEO of HireVue.

And HireVue offers more than just video interviewing. It also has AI-driven candidate evaluation tools, which can help hiring managers review candidates more efficiently.

HireVue is used by companies like Goldman Sachs, Hilton, and Intel to conduct both pre-recorded and live interviews, all online.

Kevin Parker HireVue

Carlyle offers portfolio companies a way to hire through the crisis

With new deals paused because of economic turmoil, a near-term challenge for private-equity firms is helping out with operations at their own businesses. PE firms have been busy communicating with their existing portfolio companies about how to maneuver the fluid situation, Business Insider has reported. 

Carlyle bought a majority stake in HireVue last October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Carlyle currently controls HireVue’s board. Prior to Carlyle’s investment last October, HireVue had raised $93 million in VC cash from investors including Sequoia Capital and TCV.

During the pandemic, HireVue is offering its platform for free to fellow Carlyle Group portfolio companies.

HireVue’s platform will come in handy for Carlyle’s finance and business services companies, like NetMotion, TCW Group, and Veritas Holdings. Now’s the time when they’re typically doing undergraduate and MBA recruiting, but for now, they’re not unable to conduct spring interviews on campuses.

“Clearly no one’s on campus, so it’s really hard to do campus recruiting right now. But campus recruiting has been an area where HireVue has a lot of great customers,” Ashley Evans, principal in the technology, media, and telecom group at Carlyle and member of the HireVue board.

In 2016, Goldman Sachs announced it would no longer travel to college campuses to conduct interviews. Instead, all first-round interviews for undergraduates are now conducted via HireVue’s pre-recorded video platform.

“There’s been a very measurable transition from that in-person experience on campus to more of a virtual experience,” said Parker.

Goldman Sachs said that by using HireVue, the firm is able to interview a broader range of candidates outside of its typical Ivy League recruiting network.

And Parker thinks that online interviews will continue to catch on.

“I think the vast majority of campus recruiting for corporate America will transition to a video-based solution,” said Parker.

In addition to its video platform, HireVue offers AI-driven assessment tools for recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate candidates. The startup, which facilitated 4.5 million interviews last year alone, also uses its own store of data to suggest effective interview questions.

“It’s not enough just having a video connection to someone. You need intelligence and you need structured interviews,” said Anderson. “You need ways to help recruiters and employers and interviewers deal with the scale of demand for jobs.”

HireVue is currently free for hospitals, and it’s supporting thousands of interviews daily

While the coronavirus pandemic has left a record number of Americans jobless, some industries, like healthcare and grocery stores, are rushing to hire.

Hospitals will also be offered HireVue’s platform at no cost during the pandemic. 

“With as many people that are going to be looking for work as are right now, it was an easy decision for us,” said Parker. 

The platform supports over 1 million interviews on a quarterly basis, and now, it’s seeing those numbers climb.

“The business has the ability to deploy quickly and scale quickly,” said Evans.

Grocery stores, the company said, are interviewing 15,000 candidates a day, using both live and pre-recorded interviews, for jobs like stocking shelves. And telecom providers whose call centers have been shut down due to the pandemic are hiring to re-insource things like customer service, and they’re using HireVue to conduct interviews.

While candidates are typically given a few days to complete their interviews, HireVue has seen a 40% increase in the number of candidates sending in their videos the same day an employer offers an interview.

Remote interviews enable companies to hire during a lockdown

As unemployment rises due to coronavirus-related layoffs and business closures, more people are looking for jobs online.

While there’s no shortage of candidates for jobs in hospitals, call centers, and grocery stores, companies may struggle to assess workers’ transferable skills, said Matt Anderson, chief digital officer of Carlyle.

“Hourly workers make up the vast majority of the jobs in the country, and many don’t have resumes,” said Anderson. 

And this issue is made more acute in the current environment where hospitality and restaurant workers are largely out of work. They’re turning to places like grocery stores to find new jobs, and while the skills can be transferable, it can be hard for hiring managers to sift through individual applications. 

“Suddenly you have grocers and healthcare systems that need people to come and do different work,” said Anderson. “But a lot of the skills and abilities and underlying ways that we work can be extended into those types of applications.”

HireVue’s AI-driven platform can help companies scan candidates’ skills and evaluate their potential, even without an exact match in prior experience.

Ashley Evans

Online recruiting will continue to grow as it enables job mobility

“As the familiarity with tools like this increases, I think the willingness to adopt them will go up,” said Evans. 

But a shift in our norms takes time, and HireVue needs to make sure that companies understand the benefits of moving recruiting online.

“A big underpinning of our investment thesis was to break apart some of those preconceived notions that exist at employers and have people acknowledge that this is actually a great, more fair, more efficient way to acquire talent,” said Evans.

Efficiency is a big selling point of HireVue, as recruiters can spend less time in transit and more time evaluating candidates online. What’s more, recruiting online can also broaden a company’s talent pool and increase mobility for workers.

“Even before the crisis, I think there was a belief that any worker could go and apply for any job and that just really wasn’t true,” said Anderson.

“Labor mobility and wage mobility, those were concepts that we talked about but they weren’t really a reality,” Anderson said.

For many, finding a new job requires not only dedicated time for the job search but possibly time off from their current jobs to sit interviews.

With HireVue’s pre-recorded video platform, candidates get the flexibility to record their interviews at any time.

“Virtual interviewing is going to play a key role and I think it will probably play a key role from this point forward,” said Anderson.

SEE ALSO: The coronavirus is a ‘watershed moment’ for how people want to get paid, according to 4 wage-advance startups that raised hundreds of millions from top VCs

SEE ALSO: How the 2020 MBA class can make itself marketable in the middle of any crisis, from a Columbia dean who guided students through the Great Recession and turned anxiety into action

SEE ALSO: We talked to 14 private-equity insiders about how they’re planning to play the coronavirus turmoil. They identified 2 huge opportunities.

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