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But let us assume that we finally manage to cherry-pick those ‘perfect’ candidates that check all the boxes and meet every skill requirement—on paper. When it comes to walking the walk that their resumes talked about, many candidates stumble and fall. Not that they duped their way through the screening process, but that by hiring by resume alone, employers tend to miss the big picture. Simply put, if you’re looking to hire a chef, you wouldn’t hire them because their resume said they could cook an egg—you would make them cook an egg and test their skills first. This was the exact mindset that Paul Bilodeau had during his time as co-founder for a data science consultancy.
He believed that to hire people, they needed to have the skills, and not just the credentials. Bilodeau set about formulating a new screening model that would allow him to sidestep the limitations of resumes and whiteboard sessions, while removing unconscious hiring bias in the process. He came up with an AI-powered, skills-based virtual assessment, which could clearly demonstrate how candidates solved for real-world problems—an innovation that he packaged to create Filtered.ai, a technical hiring platform that helps companies hire engineers (and more) based on ability rather than resumes. Today, Filtered is a sought-after screening solution and end-to-end hiring platform for all technical roles, allowing companies to accurately measure a candidate’s skill and culture fit. As a result, it removes the need for formulaic phone screening that does little more than help hire junior HR staff.
In an interview with CIO Applications, Bilodeau, the CEO and founder of Filtered.ai, shares his insights on what makes such a revolutionary new solution tick and describes the future direction of his company.
Could you give us a brief overview of Filtered?
Filtered began as an internal product for eliminating the biases in the hiring process presented by resumes. Applicants would first take a “Filtered,” a technical assessment that made them solve for real-world, complex problems and uncovered previously hidden applicant insights. The goal was to provide our clients with candidates that would do the best work on the job—not the candidates with the highest accreditations and inflated resume accolades. For example, often after the final round interview for an IT vacancy, companies will conduct subjective coding or whiteboarding exercises, as with music or art. Shortlisting someone based on several rounds of screening to then fail the skills portion of the interview process is not an awesome, nor effective, way to hire.
The solution to this problem, deploying skills-based assessments at the beginning of the application process vs. at the end, was very effective in our hiring process. We then merged it with our traditional recruiting process at the time, using it as a delivery mechanism for one of our customers, helping them hire quality people. With its success and growing demand from other customers, we spun out and created Filtered as its own company. In it, we offer an AI-based platform that can assess a candidate’s aptitude for the job, team, and company via a capabilities-based hiring process.
Could you walk our readers through the Filtered platform? What are some of its key functionalities?
Filtered’s AI-based platform uses performance data to maximize the quality of any company's current and future technical workforce. Offered as a multi-pronged platform, Filtered can serve different employer needs such as candidate authentication, fraud detection, specialized skill-based assessments, and variable scaling. It can verify each candidate's identity by asking them to sync information from LinkedIn, Github, or others.
Assessments can then be administered either via a virtual link or live video interviews to evaluate their knowledge, coding skills, etc. Candidates have the ability to build out new projects, fix bugs or complete projects on top of existing code, allowing you to view their thought process, working style, and technical skills in real time. The assessments and interviews are automatically recorded, transcribed, scored, and analyzed—beyond the inputs/outputs passed—to verify if the candidate can solve the problem at hand quickly or if they can refactor their code to make any corrections.
We started Filtered as an internal product for hiring, to eliminate the biases in the hiring process presented by resumes
Not only does the platform cater to companies that hire their own talent, but it can also be used by enterprises that delegate the task to staffing agencies. The Filtered platform generates specific technical questions for HR managers so that they can easily create a role-specific assessment which will generate a link to the Filtered assessment and automatically notify all associated contingent staffing vendors of new interviews and open positions. They can then pass the link on to applicants and seamlessly manage all candidate profiles from the platform, prioritizing potential candidates based on their Filtered assessment score and coding behaviors. Afterward, HR and other decision-makers can click on the attached Filtered links inside their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and review the candidates. All information, from questions to confidence analysis, is included in the review. Staffing admins at the company also receive weekly leaderboard reports about vendor performance, while vendor admins receive similar weekly reports about their recruiters.
If they pass, the candidate will get added and then integrated into the vendor management system (VMS) for the hiring teams to review. This drastically decreases the time to fill, which in the case of our client Comcast, took the delay down from over 111 days to 22 days in a 90-day pilot. The pass rate from their vendors was seven percent of total candidates. As a result, we blocked 1400 resumes of unqualified candidates from entering the funnel for the hiring managers, improving net time and efficiency and reduced fraud.
Can you describe how Filtered’s evaluation techniques overcome the limitations of traditional HR screening for IT roles?
At Filtered, we gauge a candidate’s potential by examining if they can apply their skill to establish a real-time application by implementing different features.
Filtered works with clients to design problems that help evaluate the technical skills and culture fit of a candidate. For example, we can implement the first round of interviews for a data scientist in a take-home challenge that they can complete on Filtered. The platform can emulate the most comfortable software environment that an applicant is used to help meet the challenge. The complete progress from start to finish is recorded such that the employers can see everything the candidates did with the problem and then grade them on their progress.
Candidates who score in the 99 percentile of the test can be interviewed first. Hence, the software helps in the employer's decision-making process by narrowing down the available options. HR departments will often screen the candidates and then send them through the Filtered platform to weed out the unqualified applicants.
After the first round, we auto-assign the selected candidate profiles to be reviewed. If at least two reviewers say yes, then we use our workspace to conduct a live interview with video.
What action does Filtered take for the candidates that have passed Filtered’s test but were not selected for the required profile in a company?
We collect "who-you-hire" data and create a database of applicants with a record of their skill levels. So, every candidate that takes a Filtered interview sits in the employer's dashboard. If a new job role opens up, the platform identifies who took Filtered’s test in a pre-defined time period and verifies if they are a perfect match for the job as per the skill set.
For a hiring event involving multiple hiring managers, we match all the candidates who took Filtered with all the managers. Employers can then configure the platform to engage the hiring manager they believe will get them posted.
Can you give us a flashback into Filtered’s historical milestones over the years?
The recruiting and hiring process has not changed in decades. Sure, there are new tools, many new tools—but they are all focused on streamlining and optimizing what’s essentially the same process: resume, interview, hire. So when we started over three years ago, we set out to change a fundamentally flawed, outdated and unfair process, and the first step we did was to remove the resume and immediately eliminate self-identifying information that promotes unconscious bias. The companies that use Filtered have changed their perception of the “ideal candidate” and in turn have not only greatly diversified their workforce, but have strengthened teams by selecting the most qualified and skilled candidate. Now, candidates that would have historically been looked over are getting jobs at leading tech companies, beating out their ivy league competition. You no longer need a Ph.D. from a top school to be on the data science team of an organization.
There has also been a drastic improvement in time-to-hire from companies that use Filtered and an increase in overall efficiency of the hiring process; FIltered’s streamlined workflow creates a more positive experience for both the candidate and hiring manager. Hiring managers can collaborate with other teams, increasing the potential for internal candidate mobility, leading to more comprehensive workforce adoption. It has also proven to be extremely effective for campus recruiting. This year, one recruiting team hosted 7,500 students from across 20 universities for a virtual hackathon and hired 20 interns in 2 days using Filtered. Not only were they able to continue with their recruiting efforts despite Covid’s no in-person campus protocol, conducting virtual interviews with Filtered saved them over 3,000 man hours.
Our most recent milestone is the release of Filtered’s hiring workspace which offers live, collaborative, multi-file and integrated development environments so companies have full-range capabilities to conduct final interviews remotely for even the most advanced, technical hire.