Using Tech to Make Human Resources More Human

Former BCGer Smarthveer Sidana is the Co-founder and CEO of HireQuotient. He sat down with BCG to discuss his passion for problem-solving and how his startup aims to solve HR's biggest problems.

Tell us about what motivated you to start HireQuotient–-how the idea came to you and what the experience has been like so far.

The entrepreneurial bug had bitten me long ago, back in high school. Creating products that could solve real-world problems and creating impact excited me the most. Through my “not successful” ventures in high school and college, I developed passion and early experience in education and the upskilling segment. BCG’s Social Impact practice was attractive to me, as I could hone problem-solving skills, and create impact at scale. While I was pursuing a passion project in upskilling the global workforce I realized there was a massive gap in the global hiring space, and through some recent trends, saw a future wave. I wanted to discover answers to these questions:

How can we make hiring for non-coding roles more inclusive and efficient (in terms of both time and money) so that:

  • Hiring managers are not wasting time talking to bad fits in the first round
  • HR departments identify top “skilled” talent early on in the process so that they can invest their time and effort to convert these candidates
  • Candidates get positive experience with companies via feedback loop closure on why they did or did not proceed to the next round; engage with company values etc.,
  • Companies take unconscious bias away from screening, and focus only on candidates’ potential to do the job rather than their background

These problems seemed very real, and looking at markets for roles like sales and marketing, finance and consulting, customer success and service, and other non-coding roles, market potential seemed big. Therefore, like any ambitious entrepreneur, I jumped to get my hands dirty, solve the problem, and revolutionize the hiring space.

The experience so far has been very satisfying. In just a short while, we have grown to a 30+ people team spread across APAC and the US. We support 40+ clients including a few blue chip F500 clients, 2 of the top-five consulting firms, and we’re growing very fast. Soon, we are planning to scale our operations in the US market.

While some of the problems I talked about above are massive, those are just the starting points, we are excited about becoming the biggest virtual recruiter platform eventually. Food for thought: what if you have a stacked list of candidates with information on percentage match with both hard and soft skills you need on the job. If we could do it with very high accuracy, it can be a gamechanger.

You co-founded HireQuotient with another BCG alum, in fact. Are there certain synergies you both benefit from, having a shared piece of history?

Yes. My co-founder is a BCG alum as well. We actually met on the BCG Entrepreneurs LinkedIn group, and then started exchanging notes on the hiring space. We both had a strong interest in creating impact in this space, and complementary skills. For example, he is great with products, as he understands some of these problems very well, and is compassionate toward HR and hiring managers. Hence, he leads products and customer success, and I manage the rest.

You spoke about the challenges facing organizations working to implement digital tools when it comes to hiring. How is HireQuotient helping them meet those challenges?

HireQuotient has developed a SaaS virtual interviewer (interactive job simulation) that enables companies to evaluate and hire “skilled” candidates. Because product can screen competency objectively at-scale for most non-coding roles, we help organizations to make their hiring efficient in terms of time and money, and highly inclusive. In addition, Our platform automates many processes for HR departments like phone screenings, interview scheduling with hiring managers, tracking funnel, etc. In a nutshell empowering the talent acquisition team to focus on high-quality activities that help them improve candidate experience and conversion, and saving enormous amounts of time for hiring managers.

Another use-case we started seeing recently with fast growing startups, is they are using HireQuotient to assess hidden talent in atypical pools, since they are no longer constrained by interviewing bandwidth, which improves speed-to-fill in a position and reduces attrition.

HireQuotient brings technology into the hiring process, which is inherently an extremely people-oriented process. How can companies maintain that human touch while finding efficiencies with the latest technologies?

Look at how sales and marketing tools enabled the workforce to amplify their bandwidth and empowered them to deliver better results. Hiring tech is doing the same. I strongly believe our tool enables people leaders to improve human touch—which, as you said, is key. Guided by data from our tool, talent acquisition teams know where to invest their time (and at times, overinvest) to make sure desired candidates get converted and join. In addition, skill reports help hiring managers pinpoint strengths and gaps in each candidate, and invest time in follow-up rounds accordingly.

How has your BCG experience influenced your career since graduating from the firm? Any skills learned, or lessons you took with you from your time at BCG that continue to influence you as an entrepreneur?

BCG has taught me many things. Most importantly, the power of a network and “people first” approach. Within BCG, I worked in my interest area, social impact, and enjoyed the satisfaction of delivering on-ground value. HireQuotient is just a scaled-up version to do the same globally.