Podcast: Bryq CEO Markellos Diorinos on Smart Hiring and Technology

Bryq Screen


Mark Feffer: Welcome to People Tech the podcast of the HCM technology report. I’m Mark Feffer.

My guest today is Markellos Diorinos, the CEO and co-founder of Bryq. Spelled B-R-Y-Q. Their platform helps employers create ideal candidate profiles, then screens candidates on the abilities and personality traits that match. We’ll talk about Bryq recruiting technology and more on this edition of People Tech.

And we’re brought to you this week by UKG combining the strength and innovation of ultimate software and Kronos. Together they’re committed to inspiring workforces and businesses around the world. Learn more at www.ukg.com.

Well, Markellos, thanks for taking the time to join me. So tell me about Bryq. What’s the problem that you solve and how does it solve it?

Markellos Diorinos: We set off to create Bryq because of our own frustration and the frustration, both myself and my co-founders. We are three people, myself who I think I’m the lesser one of the three doing all the business stuff, Guy, who has a background in psychology, out of Sorbonne. And he came up with many of the ideas that our IO’s then evolved into the product and Hassan who’s the smarter guy. And he’s the technical guy who gets everything coded and his team, of course. So we were working in different continents at different times together, and it was clear to us that the successful company is a company that has great people. So that’s the definition of a great company. It’s never about the technology. It’s never about the assets or the IP or whatever it’s about, do I have great people, and this is how companies rise and fall.

And once we realized that, we wanted to consistently hire great people. It’s easier said than done. How do you consistently hire great people? And we realized that this was not the problem that we discovered. Everybody’s trying to do the same. So we looked out at all the tools that were available and assessment psychometrics, this and that, science and Guy having a background in psychology said, “I know how to do this.” And he found the necessary body of research. And what came out was that there’s all this science out there, there’s all this implementation, but the implementers are always piecemeal. There are tools that were designed maybe in the ’60s and ’70s, most of the time. And they’re just your old scantrons, questionnaires or a hundred questions now put into a screen. This is not a experience for this millennium. If we had to use these tools, we’d have to pay probably 400 or 500 bucks per candidate have them take assessments for five hours.

And then in return, we’d get a hundred pages worth of reports. None of this helped our goal. So we took a step back and we said, “We know that there is science that says look at the science and let’s make sure that we understand how we select people, how we determine performance. And then let us try to repackage everything and not just provide data to people, because do we have data? You have data from all sides. How can we take this data and translate it into intelligence, into the things that we can actually use? And we can help our people make better decisions.” And once we started doing this, we said, “Okay, intelligence is not just about hiring.” These are all these talent decisions that we’re making, whether it’s about hiring, whether it’s about promoting, whether it’s about internal mobility. And we need to make sure that we can assist HR practitioners, we can assist hiring managers, we can assist managers to make better decisions also with the use of data. So it’s all about enabling people to do their job faster, better.

Mark: So can you give me some examples of how it’s put to work?

Markellos: Oh, can I. So let me give you three areas where our customers come and I’ll give you examples. One area that very often comes through is diversity. People are saying, “I’m hiring, but I’m doing really badly in terms of diversity. I seem to attract always the same kind of people,” which is not necessarily correct. It’s not always a sourcing problem with though a lot of times it’s going to appear like that.

So when you have this diversity problem, what you want to have is you want to have a blind screening process where people come into the funnel and they go through the funnel based solely on what they can attribute for the specific role, not based on where they went to school or what gender they have or where they worked previously. So we have customers. Blinkus is an example, and you may know them. This is an up-and-coming startup where Blinkus is saying, “How can I find better people?”

So we give them Bryq And then they get all the incoming candidates at random. They create their ideal candidate profile, and then they match the people to the ideal candidate profile. And they start looking based solely on merit or nothing else and their response is amazing because they’re saying not only can I hire faster, but my best candidates end up being people I would normally have disqualified with my previous process. They would have never made it through the funnel, but now as they come in, I can see that they’re a good match for what I’m looking for because they match all these things and I’ve set the ideal candidate profile. So I know what I’m looking for and they’re doing well in this respect and you know what? I talked to them and they were fantastic. And that’s just one use case. Let’s look at another case, which is very often, and it’s volume hiring. Volume hiring is when we have a lot of volume, either of applicants or in terms of hires that you need to do.

So what happens in volume hiring and EY is one of our customers in that respect. I always like to think of them as the company, formerly known as Ernst and Young, kind of like prince. So Ernst and Young came to us and said, “Hey, we have this graduate program and we’re getting tons of applications, thousands, literally thousands. So how do we find the people who are best from people who have zero experience? None of them has experience with what we do, right? And we don’t expect them to have experience. These are all young talents.” What they were doing so far, they were looking at the good schools or the great GPA. And we all know that these are not great indicators of performance. So they adopted Bryq and they started saying, “Hey, since we started using this would we can get more applicants.”

We get within minutes from when the applicants complete the assessment to a ranked list based on what is important for us, for this position. And the same person may be number one for that role. And he can be number 100 for the other role, because there are different roles with different requirements. So it’s never a measure of the value of the individual. It’s always a measure of how well does this person fit my ideal candidate profile? And they look at that and they can find all these hidden gems, people that again, they would have overlooked and they can turn it around like nothing. They do it. They have a two week application period, two week plus one day, they have their sort list and they start talking to people. This doesn’t replace recruiters. What we’re doing is we’re curating a shortlist, essentially.

We’re saying these are the people most probable. They’re going to look at these people. They’re going to look at the resumes. Some they will discard. Number one may be discarded because they didn’t actually study what Ernst and Young was looking for. And they’re going to look at them and they’re going to say, “Okay, this person works. This person’s shortlist. This person, let’s talk to them and so on and so forth.” But they’ll end up looking at 20, 30 people instead of the 2000 or 3000 applicants. And they’re doing this in a way that’s very diverse and very unbiased. Now this is the second pillar. It’s about how do I hire in volume? But sometimes it’s about how I hire for quality? And we have a customer who hires and trains, what we call BDRs, business development representatives. So they’re kind of a school and they came to us and they said, “You know what? We have the school. We take people who have no training usually. We train them for our eight week program. And then we resell them.”

I don’t know if you can say this for people. We reposition them with our customers who are looking for BDRs for ready to hit the ground running. And that’s a fantastic program, but their challenge was that people are coming in, they look good on paper and they come in. But they have a horrendous churn rate in the first weeks of the program. They were losing more than a third of the applicants. Why? Because there were people who thought they’d enjoy doing the role of a BDR, but as soon as they start going through the training, they look at it and they’re saying, “That’s not for me.” And they go away. So we went and helped them.

And we said, “Okay, let’s set up the criteria. Let’s see what a great BDR looks like. Let’s create the ideal candidate profile.” And now all the incoming candidates go through that. And the better ones they make it through the program. And later they get positioned. It’s a dramatic reduction in churn. So the churn went to less than half of what they had before. And we’re only looking at data now for the three month. I think if we keep expanding our horizon and see the success of these people in the long-term, this is going to look even better. These are the kinds of things that companies care for, right? It’s about how do I get more diverse people? How can I hire in quantity? How can I hire for quality? And you can answer all these three requests just with Bryq.

Doesn’t stop there though. And you get me going and I’ll never stop. The other thing that we see a lot of people doing is saying, “I found two perfect BDRs, which ones should I hire?” And that’s where the question of culture comes in, which one of those two candidates is going to be adding more to my culture? And that has been an increasingly more important discussion we’re always having with customers. We define their culture with them, they typically give us the pillars that they have, and we translate them in what we can measure. And we can’t measure everything by the way. Sometimes there are things where we say, “I can’t touch this. This is not something that they can assess for.” But we create their culture. And then they can see for its candidate, how well they’re suited for the position, but also what they could be bringing to the company, which areas that be challenging with the culture in which areas actually be adding value and expanding the culture of the company.

And that has been so successful. We see customers starting and saying, “I love this, but I’m going to start with the culture. And I’m going to start with benchmarking. I want to understand my culture internally.” See, this is what I was saying before. We started with hiring, but we realized that there all these areas of HR where you can apply the same technology and you can assist people make better decisions. And once you do a survey of everybody inside and you have the culture, it just tells you where you stand. And then you can know if this is really my culture, by the way, it always comes up way different than what people would expect. They’ll say, “Oh, you know what? We’re going to ace everything.” And they don’t.

We tell them, “Here’s how you do. And here’s how you do with your current staff. And here’s how you would do if you were hiring random people.” So on average, this is what people would score on your culture. And sometimes these things, they had hiring processes that actually were disadvantageous for the culture. So they were actually hindering the very things that they say they wanted to reinforce, but that’s fine. They didn’t have any way to measure it. And now we’re giving them a way to measure and they can look for incoming candidates. They can look at teams and say, “This team is really suffering in area X. So the next candidate we’re going to bring in should also be very strong in that.”

Mark: Let me shift gears a little bit and talk about the business, the industry. It seems like as technology advances, there’s more and more tools in the family of Bryq. Isn’t the space getting crowded? And what’s that mean for you? How are you confronting that challenge?

Markellos Diorinos:

It is. And I think that the space is getting… Well, I wouldn’t call it crowded yet, but where it was the desert now we’re starting getting the occasional contender into the space. And that’s really a response to the changing customer needs. Why are all these companies coming out? Because you had this little flu going around called, what was it again? COVID or something?

Changed radically the way that we work and remote work, we used to be a marginalized base is now probably number one for everyone, changed the way we hire and people are screaming and saying, “How can I make decisions for people I’ve never met? I’ll never see face to face?” All this data that we used to rely on, which was based on interpersonal communication, it goes away now. Now we’re all much like you and I right now, two faces in the window.

I don’t get the same vibe for you as it would if we were a person to person. So they’re screaming for that. They’re saying, “How do I cope with remote work, with remote hiring with people now wanting to change careers,” because you’ve noticed that they don’t longer want to do what they were doing. They want to do something that’s going to be a better match for their personality, because they feel that they need to have more fulfillment and experience is no longer a good guide for what will be great for them. Then you have all the racial tensions. Companies are saying, “We know we haven’t been doing our work as well as we should in terms of diversity. Give me something, give me anything that helps.” And then you’re entering now into an era where the balance is shifting, people would have an oversupply of candidates.

In the past few months this seems to be tipping again. And now you have very few candidates proposition. So you have two or three candidates. How do you select the proper one? They all look the same on paper or in the interviews. All these questions, they beg for help and we rely on HR. And I’m amazed at the role that HR has placed in the plate in the past two years. This is a group of people that collectively really stood up to the challenge and they provided amazing work in keeping companies afloat during this really unprecedented times. And now we’re asking more from them and they’re saying, “Sure, I’ll give you more, but give me something I can work with. Don’t give me just more work. Give me a tool that’s going to help me make those better decisions. Give me a tool that’s going to help me measure and enforce diversity. Give me a tool that’s going to help me understand people when I can’t meet them face to face.”

And this is where all these tools coming. And that’s great by the way, because they’re responding to a customer need. What’s not so great is that there is a whole class of companies like ourselves that really value and cherish candidates and employers alike. And we say we’re going to do things that are proven by science, that we know that work because of the end of the day when I give you advice about what to do with a candidate, I know that there’s not going to be 100% percent correct, because nothing is, but I’m going to give you the best advice that I know is correct. And then you have all the sort of people that come out and say, “AI, we have a tiny piece of AI in our software that we thought about very strongly before we integrated it to make sure that it doesn’t add bias.”

But then you can say, “You know what? If you’re screening resumes, let’s throw some AI on it and automate it.” And you can do that. But the pitfall with this is that when you take a broken process, which is screening resumes, you cannot fix it by throwing technology on it. It’s a broken process. You know, that it doesn’t work. There’s so much evidence out there that says that you can not hire based on what someone has started or what they have done as experience. You get people are now selling a solution to that’s AI based that does exactly that. And it is faster than before, but it is equally if not more wrong than what people had before. So that’s where I see a challenge. And the challenge for HR practitioners is that everybody’s marketing their solution like it’s the next best thing since sliced bread? How can they tell which solutions are solid and which solutions are just snake oil? This is where you come in, I guess.

Mark: Well, I’d like to think so. I’d like to talk about integrations for a minute. You’ve got a number of integration partners. And integrations are playing a bigger and bigger role throughout the HR tech space, the recruiting tech space. Can you talk about the role integrations play for Bryq and how your whole strategy with that developed?

Markellos: I’m going to be very happy to. We chose early on to start integrating with partners and we have a number of partners. We integrated with everything that our customers have, and it goes from lever and greenhouse and workable all the way down to HR or all the way up to work day and all the pro. Not all integrations are equally great. God did not create all integrations equal. And that’s a lot of times depends on the vendor. Sometimes people give us a fantastic environment and we can give solutions that are amazing for our customers. And sometimes they feel that they’re very haphazardly put together and that’s not through a fault of our own, but it is what it is. At the end of the day, though, when you’re thinking about the challenges of an HR practitioner, how much can they take? They need to have a holistic view on things.

So what we’re offering is part of the solution, but it cannot and should not be separate from the ideas for how to track candidates, for how people access information. And we’re trying to enrich their lives and make them easier not to give them another tool that’s disassociated from everything else and then they have to add another step in their checklist. And I think we’ve been pretty successful at that. When we go and we get integrated with our customers, what they’re loving is that our typical implementation time is usually under two weeks from let’s get started to now we’re in production, we’re using it for every incoming candidate. And integration is a big role of that. They don’t have the time or the luxury to learn a completely new system that introduces new rules. What they want to do is have this additional data point that’s going to help them make better decisions, that’s going to cut down their work time.

That’s already what they’re familiar with. As we’ve done all this integration, now we’re thinking about the next step, which is deeper integration. And sometimes we want to go beyond the ATS. So for example, one of the work we’re doing now is can we give our customers more statistics about EOC? And by that, I mean, can we give them statistics about their candidate makeup in terms of gender, race and so on? Why? Because this is going to help them diagnose how well they’re doing in terms of diversity. And this is great. We not only want to help, but we also want to help them see measurable results. How did we manage to move the needle? And once you start doing that, you’re saying, “Okay, if I have that information, can I fit that information in my HRAS? Can I make sure that I get all this data and put them together? And this is where it gets hairy in the HR tech space, because you have all these islands solutions. And when you start thinking about something that’s end to end, and you say, “I have data that’s useful for hiring, useful for promoting, useful for internal mobility.” Then you’ll end up integrating with a billion different systems, but we’ll do that if that’s what it takes to give people a better solution, integrate with more and more systems, until we can help our customers get more out of what we have to offer.

Mark: Last question for you today. You touched on this a little bit earlier, but I’d like to carve it out as its own question, is about talking about the changes in the job market. Obviously the job market’s changing because of the pandemic, even before the pandemic, there were a lot of dynamics among workforce that were changing. What’s all that mean for you and companies like yours?

Markellos: We don’t know yet. And that’s the honest answer, but I’ll tell you some of the trends that we’re seeing. And they’re interesting. We mentioned how the supply and demand is changing and now it goes in a well less supply, more demand. So I guess it goes in favor of the candidate. So what this is forcing employers to do is to expand their talent pool. It used to be that people would say, “Hey, I’m looking for a front end developer based in San Francisco.” Now they’re starting to say, “I’m looking for a front end developer in the US.” Remote work is now part of that. So you take the geography and that solves already a ton of problems because they used to be that you couldn’t find any, I don’t know, African-American front end developers in San Francisco. But you know what? You can find them in Detroit.

You can find them in Atlanta. So now you have access to the talent pool you gain in both senses, you get access to great talent wherever they are. And the other thing we’re seeing is that people are more willing nowadays to bet on young talent. And by that, what I mean is they’re saying, “Okay, I can not find the front end developer that I like. Let me find a great computer scientist, wherever they are.” So that’s already a huge pool and they’ll train them over the next six to 12 months to become a great front end developer. I know that I’m not getting a senior person that way. It’s very clear. But you can see how you’re starting to remove some of the limitations that you had and you’re expanding your talent pool. And now you have access to an incredible pool of talent. And sometimes that comes also very cost efficient and that’s what’s helping them.

So in this new balance, what we’re seeing is that there is a lot of uncertainty. What is working? How do I identify the great developer? And this is where a lot of our customers are coming. And it’s, again, those three pillars. How do I find my diverse candidates? Now I can source them better. So let me find them. How do I hire in quantity? And how do I hire for quality? It’s not about, we’re going to make the decisions for you. That would be a fallacy to think that anyone can do that. But it’s definitely about here’s more data, here’s your criteria. And here’s what matches your criteria. Now look at this five choices that look very promising and here are the pros and cons for each candidate. At the end of the day, there is a war on talent out there, and people who use the best tools, they’re going to win the war on talent.

Mark: Thank you very much. I really enjoyed talking to you and I appreciate you coming here.

Markellos: Likewise, Mark. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Mark: I’ve been talking with Markellos Diorinos, the CEO and co-founder of Bryq.

And this has been People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report, where we’re a publication on Recruiting Daily. And we’re brought to you by UKG, combining the strength and innovation of ultimate software and Kronos learn more at www.ukg.com. People

Tech’s a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com.

And to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

Image: Bryq

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