Hong Kong-based start-up Talkpush is aiming to revolutionise the mass-hiring of service staff in industries like hotels and telecommunications firms with the use of automated phone calls and chatbots. “Companies like big telecoms did not have a career section [for service staff] because they could not handle the volume that would be associated with it. If they started receiving resumes directly they would be flooded with hundreds of thousands of resumes,” said Max Armbruster, chief executive of Talkpush. In most cases, these companies outsource their recruitment requirements to external agencies, which process the applications for them. “It is a very subpar way of [hiring] because companies have no control over the process,” Armbruster said. Talkpush is anticipating huge demand for its services in markets like Southeast Asia, a region where internet infrastructure is not that well-established and email usage is lagging. According to Armbruster, an effective solution for companies who hire thousands of staff every year would be one that allows candidates to bypass the email and web procedures, and one that reduces the number of face-to-face interviews recruiters have to conduct. Chinese firms’ profits, revenues, hiring fall as economic slowdown ‘worsens’, says survey “We realised that there is an opportunity to build a software that uses traditional phones to get in touch with thousands of job seekers and shortlist them based on qualifications. This would get them as close as possible to being hired,” he said. With Talkpush, companies are able to generate recruitment campaigns on social media platforms such as Facebook, allowing job seekers to sign up with one click through their Facebook personal data. Once the registration has been done, applicants will receive a phone call with automated interview questions which they have to answer. Following the phone interview, recruiters will receive a transcript generated using Google’s speech-to-text application programming interface, which is a quick way to check if the applicant is fluent in English or Chinese for the next step, in this case an in-person interview. The entire process reduces about 30 per cent of a recruiter’s time, said Armbruster. “A phone interview gives every candidate a chance to tell their story. Resumes have been around for forever, but sometimes they can also be misleading,” Armbruster said. “Jobseekers could have average resumes, but when you interview them you would realise that they can be good fits.” Companies can also choose to put up their campaigns on Instagram, where candidates text their name to a given number for a phone interview. Talkpush also released a Facebook chatbot in July that guides applicants through the sign up process for a recruitment campaign within a chat window itself. Talkpush has already been used in Starwood Hotels,Macau for conducting automated phone interviews in Mandarin for jobseekers from mainland China. Though the company is planning to expand its services further in the region, Armbruster is betting big on growth in Southeast Asia and India, due to the large number of outsourced customer service and call centre jobs there. “The thing about phone interviews is that it’s live and you are measuring the applicants’ ability to think on their feet and react to questions. A recruiter trying to reach someone would have a higher chance of reaching them over the phone [than any other channel],” Armbruster said. The company is also looking to incorporate machine learning into the Talkpush process by analysing transcripts generated through phone interviews to identify the types of keywords used by applicants who did well. Customised algorithms can then be developed to fit the hiring company’s profiles, he said.