The “World’s Fastest Assessment” Aims to Grow Its Influence 

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May 15, 2020

What can you learn about a candidate in 90 seconds? That’s the $12 million question.

That’s because yesterday, Traitify, which bills itself as “the world’s fastest personality assessment,” announced that it raised $12 million in funding. A “visual-based personality assessment platform that helps companies identify best-fit candidates, especially in high-volume and high-turnover environments,” Traitify is celebrating a deal that comes on the heels of Paradox’s announcement earlier this week that it is getting a $40 million infusion. In other words, a plunging economy hasn’t stymied investors from slinging cash at numerous recruiting tech vendors.

The funding of Traitify, which has clients that include McDonald’s Canada, Public Storage, JO-ANN Stores, and Lowes Foods, is also noteworthy because it represents a vote of confidence — at least by JMI Holdings, the firm investing in the company — in personality assessments geared toward hiring many workers very quickly. Unlike legacy assessments, Traitify’s solution, based on an approach that uses “human interaction with images to create the fastest validated talent assessments in the market,” takes less time to complete than it does to read this article.

A Focus on High-Volume Demands

Especially nowadays, as numerous businesses — from supermarkets to health systems to certain retailers — ramp up hiring to meet increased demand due to the pandemic, and with so many unemployed people applying for jobs, many recruiters are looking to reduce time to fill. 

“In the current business climate, HR teams are receiving an influx of applications, requiring them to sort through hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants, and sometimes causing systems to crash,” Traitify CEO Dan Sines says in a press statement. “Traitify is helping teams navigate through this influx and providing them with necessary data at scale to find the best candidate for their needs.”

Nina Pollard, national head of talent acquisition at Coles Supermarkets, says in the press release that “[t]his recruitment tool is an effective and efficient mechanism to screen high volumes of candidates, ensuring we can easily identify those candidates that will provide the best customer experience across our Coles Group brands.”

It’s clear that Traitify’s funding comes at an opportune time for a variety of stakeholders as high-volume and high-velocity hiring takes centerstage. Still, you’ve got to wonder: Can a 90-second assessment truly yield actionable data for employers? 

Targeting Hourly Workers Differently

“Yes,” says George LaRocque, the founder and principal analyst at HRWins. “Traitify’s assessment is based on the Big Five, which has been validated for decades. Their innovation is in the application of it, speed, design, and tech, along with their biz model.”

Indeed, Traitify claims that it has conducted dozens of studies with thousands of participants to ensure reliability and validity. As Traitify’s CEO Dan Sines explains, “We make use of customer data to evaluate how effectively the use of our tool identifies successful employees. The insights gained are therefore scientifically sound and can provide much-needed insight into candidates and employees in a way that achieves welcome clarity and helps avoid biased hiring.”

Madeline Laurano, founder of the analyst firm Aptitude Research, agrees that the science is there. Moreover, she adds that the assessment market teems with startups whose solutions lack validity on one end and traditional providers who don’t always provide candidates with good experiences on the other.  “Old-school assessments were designed for a different time, and a different world than job-seekers are in today,” Sines remarks, adding that test-takers are more likely to be honest with Traitify’s image-based, mobile-friendly approach. He explains that his platform is able to meet hourly workers “at their comfort level in both literacy and time availability while also tackling socioeconomic bias.”

The reality is that hiring hourly workers requires different approaches,” says Laurano, who recently published “The Forgotten Workforce: New Research on the Hourly Candidate. “You can’t have a long assessment. You need something that is easy and quick for candidates to fill out.”

Laurano points to an example from her own research experience, where a department story was thrilled when it was able to cut assessment time from one hour to 45 minutes for many of its sales associates. “But even 45 minutes is too long,” she explains. “Many candidates for hourly jobs won’t spend that kind of time completing an assessment. And when you have to hire a high volume of workers, you need to ensure that you aren’t losing quality applicants.” (Sure enough, Traitify claims a 96% assessment completion rate.)

Does Velocity Compromise Quality?

Still, speaking of quality, maybe the real multimillion-dollar questions is this: Does Traitify’s funding represent a desire, or at the very least a willingness, during the current economic malaise to prioritize velocity over quality of hire?

“You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice one or the other,” Laurano says, adding that most companies hiring hourly workers aren’t using an assessment to begin with. Her research shows that 68% of hourly workers said that the only assessment they had was being interviewed by a manager. 

“In a job market with a high volume of candidates, employers want and need data to help select the candidates to focus on,” LaRocque writes. “In a tight labor market, they want the same thing as fast as possible.”

Basically, then, as numerous employers look to compress time to fill, the introduction of a short assessment isn’t necessarily lowering standards. More often than not, it’s introducing a standard in the first place. Put otherwise, some objective data is better than biased or no data.

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