As a growing business and a leading global brand, BuzzFeed’s job opportunities can attract hundreds of applicants a day. How can it identify and make offers to the people best suited for each role?
BuzzFeed teamed up with Uncubed to pilot an artificial intelligence driven solution based on IBM® Watson® Candidate Assistant—enabling it to pinpoint top candidates and encourage them to apply.
64% more applicantsfrom IBM Watson Candidate Assistant progress to in-person interviews
Booststhe efficiency of the recruitment process and cuts the risk of mis-hires
FuelsBuzzFeed’s growth into new business areas by attracting and identifying top talent
Business challenge story
Screening thousands of applicants
Every month, 200 million people around the world engage with BuzzFeed content—and the company offers much more than viral videos, lists and quizzes.
“At its core, BuzzFeed is about driving human connection,” begins Dan Geiger, Recruiting Ops Manager and Lead Recruiter at BuzzFeed. “Whether it’s a funny video or a Tasty video, our goal is to create, curate and deliver content that engages our audience and make them want to share it with their friends and family.
“We’ve expanded into business areas such as e-commerce, which has created a wide range of new roles and opportunities within the organization. Our applicants increasingly include people with backgrounds in sales, marketing, business, web development and video production—and our team of recruiters and hiring managers work together to source, identify and hire the best candidates for each position.”
With application volumes increasing year on year, BuzzFeed saw an opportunity to boost the efficiency of its recruitment processes.
“Some of our most sought-after roles attract hundreds of applications per day for several days after we post them—and with such large talent pipelines, pinpointing the top performers is often a tough challenge for our hiring managers,” Geiger continues.
“To empower our talent managers to spend less time on screening and more time on higher-value activities, we want to encourage people with the right skills, experience and passion to apply for each role—and more effectively redirect candidates who don’t meet those specific criteria early in the recruitment process.”
Identifying top candidates with AI
To achieve its goals, BuzzFeed is working with its strategic partner Uncubed to pilot an innovative solution based on IBM Watson Candidate Assistant. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies, the solution engages candidates in personalized career discussions and recommends positions that fit them best.
"Uncubed is a video-driven community that brings recruiters and talent together,” explains Geiger. “As well as listing our job opportunities on the Uncubed platform, we work together with their team to create skill-building videos—helping prospective applicants learn everything from what we’re looking for in a résumé to the requirements of specific roles at BuzzFeed. We’ve found the partnership to be very productive, and we really appreciate the diversity of the candidate pool that Uncubed opens up for us.”
He continues: “When Uncubed proposed an AI-based solution, we immediately recognized its potential to transform our approach to talent management. We loved the idea of using data to tell a recruiting story, and we were confident that IBM Watson Candidate Assistant would enrich the experience for applicants coming to us via the Uncubed community.”
Working together with BuzzFeed and IBM, Uncubed trained IBM Watson Candidate Assistant to interact with questions from its community. Today, prospective applicants can type questions about working at BuzzFeed into the chatbot, and receive real-time answers in the form of text, videos and links to open positions on the Uncubed site.
Chris Johnson, CEO & Co-Founder of Uncubed, comments: “We considered more than 40 of our partners for the IBM Watson Candidate Assistant pilot, and we quickly decided that BuzzFeed was the ideal fit. As well as being a nimble organization, BuzzFeed has a reputation as an innovator, and we knew that our close working relationship with the team would help us to bring the idea to market quickly.”
He adds: “Rather than deliver a basic chatbot interaction in which people type questions in text and receive text back in response, we were keen to deliver an experience that was more compelling and dynamic. If a customer asks a question about a topic we’ve already covered in one of our videos with BuzzFeed, IBM Watson Candidate Assistant serves that content up directly into the chat session. And if the solution identifies a candidate who’s likely to be a good fit for an open position, it proactively encourages them to apply right away.”
Enabling better-informed hiring decisions
With an AI-driven solution surfacing the right jobs to the best candidates, BuzzFeed’s recruiting team believes that the Uncubed solution will empower its talent managers to make better-informed hiring decisions, faster—a crucial capability as its business grows.
"Uncubed integrates seamlessly with our own applicant tracking system, which means we can deliver the same straightforward, consistent experience whether people apply via Uncubed or BuzzFeed.com,” says Geiger. “The crucial differentiator with the Uncubed route is the ability to surface information that helps prospective applicants decide whether one of our roles is the right fit for their skills and experience.
“We believe that enabling applicants to evaluate if a role is truly right for them at this early stage will help our talent managers spend less time screening out candidates and more time reviewing top-performers whose skills are closely aligned to the position. The more time we spend on value-added assessment activities, the lower the risk of mis-hires and attrition, so we’re very excited about the solution’s potential.”
BuzzFeed is already beginning to measure positive results from its partnership with Uncubed. Today, 87 percent of BuzzFeed applicants coming in through IBM Watson Candidate Assistant, powered by data from Uncubed, progress from phone screenings to face-to-face interviews, compared to only 53 percent of applicants from other sources. In other words, BuzzFeed is 64 percent more likely to invite IBM Watson Candidate Assistant candidates in for face-to-face interviews than other candidates.
By analyzing conversation data from IBM Watson Candidate Assistant, Uncubed continues to uncover insights to help BuzzFeed refine its recruitment strategy.
“Although the pilot is still in progress, we’re already gathering some valuable data from IBM Watson Candidate Assistant,” comments Geiger. “For example, we can see the proportion of applications for technology versus marketing roles. If we see that that one area of business is attracting fewer applications than we’d expect, we can take action to increase the visibility of those roles—for example, by running a promotional event or a digital marketing campaign.”
He continues: “Knowing the kinds of questions that people are asking IBM Watson Candidate Assistant is also valuable to our team, as it highlights areas where we might need to provide more information to candidates. If we see that there are frequent questions around topics such as: ‘What’s BuzzFeed’s parental leave policy?’ or ‘What’s the office culture like at BuzzFeed?’, we can build out the relevant pages on our site to better address them.”
BuzzFeed has already hired candidates via its partnership with Uncubed, and is currently interviewing more as the pilot continues.
“For us, there’s no better proof of the effectiveness of the pilot than the quality of the candidates that are coming through—and so far, the results are extremely encouraging,” concludes Geiger. “As a leading tech-powered media company, our goal is always to ensure that the best people apply for the right jobs at the right time. By continuing our work with Uncubed, we’re in a strong position to attract, identify and hire top talent to fuel our ongoing growth.”
BuzzFeed is the world’s leading tech-powered media company, with a cross-platform news and entertainment network that reaches hundreds of millions of people globally. The company produces articles, lists, quizzes, videos, original series, and brands including Tasty, the world’s largest social food network. The company is also home to BuzzFeed News, a global news organization focused on original reporting and investigative journalism; and BuzzFeed Commerce, which develops social commerce products and experiences, as well as licensing and other strategic partnerships.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Watson Candidate Assistant, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/talent-management/candidate-assistant
Signup for the IBM Watson Candidate Assistant Trial today!
Founded in 2012 and based in New York, NY, Uncubed specializes in talent acquisition solutions. Offering a video-first community platform where anyone can gain skill-building insights directly from innovative companies, Uncubed empowers enterprises to attract and recruit top talent. To learn more, please visit: uncubed.com