Back in 2015, Angela Antony predicted that big changes were coming to hiring. While working for the National Economic Council and writing a book about inefficiencies in the labor market, she learned that nearly half of all new hires fail within a year and a half, most often due to mismatches between their personalities and cognitive skills and those required of the job. "The whole premise of the book was that the job market was headed toward a reckoning," says Antony.
The events of 2020 helped bring about that reckoning. The pandemic-induced recession eliminated an estimated 30 million American jobs, and the death of George Floyd brought the issue of systemic racism to the forefront -- concurrent events that led countless companies to rethink their hiring practices. Antony, meanwhile, stands positioned to capitalize: She ended up abandoning her book and instead building a San Francisco-based hiring software company, Scoutible. The Mark Cuban-backed startup, which launched publicly this week, built a video game that companies can use to measure a job candidate's traits and determine whether they're a fit for a role.
Scoutible's platform is a 21st-century tool that Antony hopes will fix the many flaws inherent in traditional hiring practices, which various studies have found tend to discriminate against women and people of color.
"If a company is using résumés and interviews, they're basically accepting bias into their hiring practice," says Antony. "Technology is perhaps the only chance we have as a society to break these patterns at a systemic level and democratize the hiring process."
Hiring companies can screen candidates by having them play Scoutible's app-based adventure game for 15 minutes. The platform analyzes their in-game decision making and produces evaluations on qualities like learning style, creativity, grit, and leadership, as well as skills like pattern recognition and memory. Those results can be compared to the hiring company's internal testing of its employees or to Scoutible's database. The startup has had clients using the platform during a several-year pilot test, which Antony says has given it robust data on the kinds of qualities that correlate with many common roles.
"The data that we collect around personality and cognitive strengths are the single most predictive hiring selection criteria that exist," says Antony. "But they're not in today's hiring process at all."
Antony points out that the platform can help surface candidates who might get overlooked using traditional hiring practices. She cites the example of a tech company that recently used Scoutible's platform to hire for an engineering role. One of the top candidates identified by the platform was a man without a college degree who was working at an auto body shop and had taken a coding class on the side. He got the job and went on to excel in the role. "Think about the social mobility that the technology has enabled in that situation," says Antony. "I hope this is the catalyst for companies to stop talking about hiring bias and start changing it."
Scoutible's platform is currently free for companies to use to screen candidates. The startup will eventually make money by charging to connect companies with candidates, acting like a recruiting firm that screens based on skills rather than previous job experience.
The startup has about $6.5 million in funding from investors including Cuban, who Antony met while she was working for the NEC. It was Cuban who, upon hearing about her research, first encouraged Antony to stop writing her book and start building a startup. He's since served as an adviser to Antony as she founded and grew the company. Cuban's Dallas Mavericks are among Scoutible's early clients, as are Colonial Life Insurance and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Scoutible's nearly 20-person staff includes game designers, data scientists, economists, and psychologists. The company will release a consumer-facing game later this year that job seekers can play to produce a "strengths résumé," which will highlight their Scoutible-certified skill ratings to potential employers. The startup will have competition in companies like Pymetrics and Jobflare, which both create gamified platforms for assessing potential hires.
While it's still early days for Scoutible, Antony is optimistic the startup's launch will be a success. She has reason to believe companies are approaching hiring differently today than they were just a few years ago, when several potential clients in the tech space advised her not to position her startup as a diversity solution if she wanted it to be taken seriously.
"The world has completely shifted and is demanding a new solution for the job market. Maintaining the status quo is just not going to cut it anymore," says Antony. "That's why we created this technology. Now we're ready to get it into the world and start making the change that people are ready for."