Meet Mark Finn, CEO TalentBox, Video Interviewing Solution

Is 2013 the year video interview technology reaches the tipping point with HR and recruiters?

Mark Finn CEO TalentBox-TotalPicture Radio InterviewMark Finn

Today, a story about showing up - and an in-depth interview with a new friend and show sponsor. The friend is Mark Finn. The company is TalentBox. Here's a little secret. Video interviews are about to become as ubiquitous with employers as phone screens. Get ready. I think 2013 will be the break-out year for this technology.

This is Peter Clayton reporting from New York with a special Talent Acquisition Channel podcast on Totalpicture Radio.

TalentBox is a video enabled, digital interviewing platform providing technology that allows companies, teams and groups to identify, shortlist and recruit top talent in an unusually effective, efficient, and cost-effective manner.

We spend a considerable amount of time on this show discussing and evangelizing the candidate experience (I'm a member of the Candidate Experience Council - CandEs Award for 2013). The good news for candidates is TalentBox delivers a far superior candidate experience than what is typical, providing talent with more opportunities to showcase their potential and demonstrate why they are the right person for an opportunity.

There's another part of this story, too. Video interviewing is about to go mainstream. Mark goes into detail in our interview explaining why: he recently published an article on TLNT (see the link in the sidebar), titled 6 Reasons Why Video Interviewing Will Soon Go Mainstream.

What about showing up? I met Mark at the NY Recruiting Meet-Up Network last month.  If I hadn't shown up, I wouldn't be telling you this story!

"Interview Transcript"

Mark Finn, TalentBox TotalPicture Radio Transcript

Today a story about showing up and an in-depth interview with a new friend and show sponsor. The friend is Mark Finn. The company is TalentBox and that's. Here's a little secret; video interviews are about to become as ubiquitous with employers as phone screens. Get ready. I think 2013 will be the breakout year for this technology.

Hi, this is Peter Clayton with a special Talent Acquisition Channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. TalentBox - that's TalentBox.me is a video enabled digital interviewing platform that allows recruiters and hiring managers to identify shortlist and recruit top talent in an unusually effective and efficient and manner.

As you probably know, we spend a considerable amount of time on this show discussing and evangelizing the candidate experience. I'm a member of the Candidate Experience Council, the CandEs Awards for 2013. The good news for candidates here is TalentBox delivers a far superior candidate experience than what is typical by providing talent with more opportunities to showcase their potential and demonstrate why they are the right person for an opportunity. And Mark will speak more to this in our interview today.

The other part of the story is video interviewing is about to go mainstream. Mark recently published an article on TLNT. You'll find a link here on Mark's feature page on TotalPicture.com. The article is titled "Six reasons why video interviewing will soon go mainstream." You might ask what does this mean for you as a job seeker?

So what about showing up? I met Mark at The New York Recruiting MeetUp Network last month. If I hadn't shown up, I wouldn't be telling you this story.

And now, here's our interview with Mark Finn.

Peter: Hi, this is Peter Clayton. We're in New York City today and I am meeting with Mark Finn who is the cofounder and CEO of a new video interviewing platform called TalentBox. Mark, welcome to TotalPicture Radio.

Mark: Thanks Peter, it's great to be on the show.

Peter: Let's start by you giving us a little bit of your background and the background of TalentBox.

Mark: Sure. I'll start with my own personal background and how I came to TalentBox and then give you a bit of an overview on what we're doing and where we've came from on that front as well.

Peter: Great.

Mark: I spent many years consulting to large organizations in Australia and New Zealand around improving their organizational processes and systems at sort of a C-suite level. I was also working very much at the forefront of technology with a range of businesses as well. We actually came to the idea of TalentBox and the concept behind it through working with one of our clients around trying to find someone to be in a promotional video for their company.

The story really of the genesis of the idea, we put a brief out for someone to be in this promotional video and all of the responses came back and the questions were sort of do a dance, tell us about yourself. We got together with the team and sat around the screen and sort of played all the different videos, and it was a very collaborative process around looking at those videos and saying we think this person is good and we like that person, and maybe not so much this person... you get the picture.

We thought that was a great way to really look at candidates in a sort of application process generally and given that we had been working with these big organizations around some of the challenges they were facing on sourcing and selection and people issues as well, and we thought there isn't a product that we've come across that we feel really improves that process and provides a way for companies to better identify and select candidates, be it for a job or a promotional video or whatever that would be. We had and we have a great group of developers and UX people and HR people, and we thought we can build a product that we feel really meets a need at the moment.

There were also few big factors going in the world that we thought makes it the right time for something like this. Just to name a few quickly, the rise of the cloud, the rise of the mobile workforce, the fact that we're hyperconnected now and it's very easy to get applications in and sometimes you end up with résumé overload. We thought well look, companies also want to be much more efficient around their recruiting spend as well. There's a bit of a trend to bring some of it in house. And we thought let's build a product that allows companies to, I guess, digitize the interview process. We started two years ago and we now have offices in Australia, operations in New Zealand. Here today with you in New York. It's all very exciting and also really exciting that it's a topic that is very relevant at the moment in the HR community.

Peter: It really is, absolutely. Basically Mark, you had a need. You wanted to do these video interviews with candidates for this company you were working with, went out to the marketplace, didn't find anything exactly what you were looking for, and so you built it yourself.

Mark: That's pretty much it. We did have a look. We thought about well this seems like a great idea, why hasn't it really been done on a big scale today? We had a look around the world and thought what are the big changes that have happened that make a product like this in a relevant now and why do we think we can do it now.

T here needs to be better tools there for helping companies and hiring managers in the selection and assessment process. And we thought we sort of had the team to put that together.

Peter: You recently wrote a very interesting article that you can find on TLNT.com titled "Six reasons why video interviewing will soon go mainstream." The first reason you outlined was that the challenge was selection, not sourcing. Are you able to elaborate on that for us a little bit?

Mark: Sure. I think firstly, that comment was a relative comment. There are obviously challenges in both of those processes. What I was trying to allude to is now it's very easy to have résumé overload on the company side of things. If you're a well-known company and you put out a job ad, you can get 600 résumés back very, very quickly. Then the challenge and the time challenge and the cost challenge is really working out to of these 600, how do we sort of see through the volume here and really get down to the 10 or 20 that we're really interested in. So that comment was really geared towards the time challenge and the cost challenge around the selection process.

One of the things we're seeing companies do, because of that résumé overload problem, is companies will put in the job description specific requirements for what candidates have to do. Say for example, "Please say these words in your cover letter" just to make sure that the candidates are actually reading the job description. It's so easy now Peter, to just send through your CV and cover letter at the click of a button and really you want to weed out the candidates that really have considered the job that they're applying for and then interview and look at those candidates. So that comment around the challenges is selection rather than sourcing. is really a relative thing and we're focused on providing companies with better tools and capabilities to improve their selection capability and make it more efficient as well.

Peter: One of the points that you make in this article that I want to take exception with is candidates are comfortable using video. I think that's very true for candidates in your age group, the Gen Y'ers are very comfortable using video but when you get up into the baby boomer generation, they aren't so comfortable using video. But I think the point here is that you need to skill up in this area because this is the trend, this is where this is going. You are going to be asked to do a video interview if you are out there in the job market today, and this is just one of the skills that you need to develop.

Mark: That's a very true and relevant point, Peter. I'd also add to that, I see that as a design or a UX failure on the platform side of things. One of our key - it's actually called our TalentBox mantra and the principles that we sort of aspire to, I guess, when we're building our products and doing what we do, one of those seven points is that if it's not immediately obvious, it's not obvious enough. So we aspire to build products and platforms that are usable by people of all generations. If we're not doing that, then we're not doing a good enough job. We really try to make it something that it is inclusive for everyone. I agree with you that it's just a new challenge in the same way that you used to train and learn for interview skills. This is just another iteration or evolution of that, and I think people will become better and become more comfortable around what makes a good video interview.

Peter: In the last couple of years at all of these conferences, everyone is talking about the cloud and everything is moving to the cloud. Well, here is a concrete example of something that is facilitated by the cloud and wouldn't exist without it.

Mark: That's right. One of the reasons we think it's the right time for the space is not just the comfort with video, but just the cloud allows you to store obviously large amounts of video there that can be accessed at any point. If I was to do this four or five years ago, I would have to send you a 16-megabyte file that would clog up your inbox, which if you then wanted to send to someone else, it would clog up their inbox and it's a very clunky process.

The cloud in a lot of industries, not just HR, allows the content to be stored there which can then be accessed by anyone that you provide authorization to at any point at any time. Now, that's got a lot of benefits, operating efficiency benefits as well as the ability to collaborate on the review process, which is a key element of our platform. Video interviewing is definitely the buzzword at the moment but we're much more than that. We provide a platform that allows companies and hiring managers to collaborate on that review process remotely which just would not have been possible before the cloud.

Peter: Something else you mention in this article on TLNT, the cost per hire is relevant. There's been some articles out there that people don't really look at the cost per hire anymore. That's really not what's considered. But as you point out in your article, companies definitely do care about the cost per hire.

Mark: That's right, and it's not just bigger companies, Peter, it's also the smaller ones as well. I'm just going to give you a very basic example of why it is relevant, and when I talk about cost, I include time in there as well because time is money for someone running a small business.

If you're a small business looking to hire someone and you don't necessarily have all of the systems in place that a larger company has, you have to take the role, or someone within your company takes the role, of hiring to schedule all of the interviews one after another to meet with candidates to then provide the feedback back to other people within the company and get them to interview the candidates. Also on the candidate side that the time of going to the interviews that may or may not be successful, there's so much time in there that I wouldn't say being wasted, but could be done much more efficiently and quickly with new digital products that allows small business owners to focus more on what it is they actually are in business for.

That is something where if you can reduce that, then small businesses are able to focus on their businesses and get on with things, so to speak. For bigger companies, definitely it's not the greatest economy even still and anywhere where you can become more efficient around processes in an organization I think is something that should be embraced with open arms. The argument that cost per hire or not tracking or even being cognizant of those sort of metrics is not something that sort of really gels well in the current economy and what companies and shareholders are really after.

Peter: There are a lot of video interviewing platforms out there and a lot of companies have sprung up over the last couple of years bringing these kinds of solutions to market. What is different or unique about TalentBox?

Mark: Firstly, it's not just a video interviewing platform. Video is just one component of our digital interviewing platform. Video is great to be able to get a feel for a candidate, their ability to present themselves, to get a better understanding of who they are as a person. But there's also other parts of a candidate which I'm sure you're familiar with that you want to get an understanding of. With the TalentBox, it's not just about video. We offer companies the ability to create text based questions that allow you to assess a candidate's ability to write and structure answers to questions, as well as multi-choice questions which can test cognitive ability and those sorts of things as well.

So it's not just a video interviewing platform; it's a digital interviewing platform and we're constantly building out the range of tools that are available for companies to build great digital interviews. Video is a key part for sure and very relevant at the moment, but we're really focused on providing a greater suite of products in there for companies.

The other thing I would say is that we've really focused on the user experience of the platform and having something that is very intuitive, very accessible and very easy to use.

Peter: Back to what you were talking about earlier for smaller companies which I find really as interesting and appealing market for this product because when you get into ad agencies and architectural firms and design firms, a lot of those companies, they don't have in-house recruiters and when they hire someone it's the art director or the creative director who is tasked with doing that and it seems like this platform is really designed and built for organizations who don't have full time recruiters on staff but gives them a really cool way of assessing candidates and evaluating who the best fit is for their organization.

Mark: We've really focused on building products that are available to anyone. You don't necessarily have to have the biggest budgets to use our platform. In the case of the ad agencies and smaller businesses that you mentioned, we do provide an ability for companies to capture talent in one place in a very efficient way.

Peter: So you can focus like an ATS for them, an applicant tracking system.

Mark: Exactly. When we were having coffee before Peter, I gave you the example of ad agencies that will typically have on their website 'we're always on the lookout for great talent. If you're interested in working for us, please send us your résumé...' and there's just an email on the other side of that. They're constantly getting résumés through, it's not very organized. They can't see or hear from the candidates as well. With our platform, those smaller businesses can create interviews that they can easily hyperlink to their website and just capture people that might be interested in working for them on an ongoing basis.

Our vision is to provide these products to everyone and not limit it to big organizations exclusively.

Peter: I think a lot of people recognize the role that video interviewing can play in external recruitment. However, you see a much bigger role than that. Can you talk about some of those?

Mark: For sure. You'd be familiar Peter, obviously with the rise of the mobile workforce and the challenges that bigger companies are having to harness that in effective and efficient manner. To give you an example, if you're a global organization and you just won a project to do something and you're looking to staff that project with your best people from around the world, well how do you do that in an efficient way and in an effective way? TalentBox can play a role on the internal mobility side of things of getting your best employees or the right people for the right projects, staffed on those projects.

To give you an example, if say WPP won the account for Coca-Cola and they wanted to look around the world for the best people with the right experience to be on that, you could build an interview that's geared to why do you want to work on this thing? What makes you the right person, etc., etc., and use it on an internal side of things as well.

Other organizations that have big secondment programs for example as well, PWC I know has 170,000 employees around the world that they're moving quite a lot. If you're a partner in say Sydney, for example, and a manager in New York is looking to go over to Sydney to work for that partner, that partner doesn't know the person in New York but they could create a digital interview and say tell us what's your experience in New York, what kind of clients have you worked with, why do you want to move to Sydney? So, it's as much an internal tool as well rather than just an external recruiting tool, if that makes sense.

Peter: We've really focused from the company side on this interview. Talk to me a little bit from the candidate side, how effective is TalentBox for the candidate and how easy is it for them to use? Obviously to create videos, you've got to have a webcam to be able to do that. So, from a candidate's perspective Mark, how do they go about using your platform and can anyone go on there and start making videos?

Mark: I think firstly, the ubiquity of video cameras is it's everywhere. There's one on your laptop. There's one on my laptop. There's one on the phone. If you don't have one of those, you can very easily call up a friend or find a place to do that. I think people are comfortable with video in the use of webcams.

In terms of the candidate experience, I don't think people should shy away from these platforms because it does provide candidates with an ability to let the company know more about themselves, to express themselves, to make a clear argument as to why they should be right for the role.

I've personally had the experience where on paper I thought I was fantastic for a role. I didn't get the role, and I feel like if I could have expressed myself and presented myself, if I had the use of video then at least the company I know they've had the chance to assess me better or they maybe haven't missed something. So, I feel that you should embrace it and it should be a positive thing for candidates.

Another point I'll just make, Peter, is it's not one way video either. So, it's not just about candidates providing a video representation themselves or responding to questions via video. Out platform, for example, allows companies to record videos of themselves, expressing who they are and what their culture is which the candidates can see which we believe leads to better outcomes, because if the candidate can see who they might potentially be working for and if they like them, then that's great and they should go for the role. But then if they don't, that's not the person that I necessarily want to work for, then you don't apply for the role. So it's a two-way straight.

Peter: I want to shift gears a little bit as we're doing this interview we're just about ready to start with most of the large HR and recruiting conferences. You and I will be in San Diego in a week or so at ERE's, New Recruiting Conference and Expo and that follows up with many of the SHRM events and HR today and HR Tech. So what do you see as some of the hottest topics coming up at conferences in these events this year?

Mark: I may be a little bit biased but I definitely think video interviewing is going to be prevalent in the conversations for sure.

In terms of other big things happening, I really think companies are taking their branding much more seriously on the employment and the recruiter side of things. I think the industry has got a lot to learn from advertisers in creating unique experiences for candidates to really attract the best talent. So that's definitely one.

I think mobile recruiting is becoming more exciting and there's some good products coming to market around that.

I think also as well just the constant change, the change globally of the workforce and the key trends that we've been talking about for a while seem to be coming faster than we maybe thought and the challenges for big companies are how to put the systems and processes in place now to make sure they're ready for those demographic and global changes that are coming.

Peter: I think you're spot on with that because no one thought mobile was going to catch on as fast as it did, for one thing, especially in the recruiting and HR space and the importance now of having mobile optimized ways for candidates to apply for jobs using a smartphone. The speed of these transactions that are taking place today it's just phenomenal compared to what it was three or four years ago.

Mark: That's right, and we really have to embrace it and use it in the right context. On a higher level, companies hiring managers and recruiters that are early adopters of these new technologies, I actually include video in that as well because it hasn't yet gone mainstream. I think we'll, in the long run, do well and also attract the best candidates and be ahead of the curve. I think that's important because if you don't open yourself up to these things, you might get left behind.

Peter: Moving forward Mark, where do you see TalentBox going? What are some of your ambitions? Where do you want to be? What's sort of the vision for your company?

Mark: It's pretty simple, Peter. We want to fundamentally improve the recruitment experience for both companies and candidates through innovation and technology. That's a pretty broad statement and a pretty ambitious statement at the same time. But in the article that you mentioned that I actually quoted a Silk Road report which said that only 38% of HR systems were fully automated. We see a huge opportunity in the space as a whole to innovate and provide great products that make the experience better for everyone. We've got some big ambitions and we really do feel we can add a lot to the industry.

We started off in Australia as you know, and now here in the US, looking to be in the UK within six months as well. So we've got a long way to go and we're excited about some of the things going on in the industry and the attention, I guess, that video interviewing is really now getting, so it's exciting.

Mark Finn is the founder and CEO of TalentBox, a video-enabled digital interview platform that has over 100 clients globally. You'll find this interview in the Talent Acquisition Channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com and included will be a complete transcript of our conversation today.

This is Peter Clayton. Thanks for tuning in to TotalPicture Radio.

Mark Finn Biography
Mark Finn is the Founder & CEO of TalentBox , a video enabled digital interview platform that has operations in the U.S. and Australia and is used by over 100 clients globally. Mark is passionate about improving the recruitment experience for both companies & candidates through innovation & technology and is a regular speaker at HR and technology events globally. Prior to starting TalentBox, Mark ran his own strategy consulting business working directly with C-suite executives from some of Australia & New Zealand's leading companies on overcoming organisational challenges. Mark holds a Masters of Applied Finance (with distinction) from Macquarie University, a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Commerce.

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