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FIRING SQUAD: Honeit with CEO, Nick Livingston

Nick Livingston, CEO at Honeit Software not only faces the Firing Squad, but the prospect of a real fire during our recording session. Will Nick stand in the pocket, take his licks and score a BIG APPLAUSE? Or will he crack under the pressure and face The Chad and Cheese FIRING SQUAD?!?

You'll have to listen to find out!

About Honeit:

Honeit interview technology makes it easy to record, transcribe and share live candidate answers and insights from everyday phone conversations. The Honeit interview platform streamlines three critical steps – scheduling calls, talking to candidates and sharing interview intelligence.

Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest and baddest start-ups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover kids. The Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.

Joel: Hey what's ups guys, it's Cheese. We're here with another Firing Squad. We have a new sponsor for the show, Jobs2Careers. Sponsors always get a big applause. Special guest today is Nick Livingstone from Honeit.

Nick: Hey everybody.

Joel: Alright, cool. So we're going to hear from our sponsor real quick, and get to the show.

Chad: That's right. Hey, yeah. Before we get to the Firing Squad, a quick question for you Joel.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Would you say that most companies find it hard to attract the right candidates to apply for their jobs?

Joel: Jobs2Careers our new sponsor certainly thought so. That's why they created their own new talent attraction platform ODT yeah, you know me.

Chad: Come on man, that was OPP. No, this is ODT, which stands for On-Demand-Talent. Where data-driven talent attraction is made easy. The On-Demand-Talent platform, I can say this, I promise-

Joel: Easy for you to say.

Chad: Enables recruiters to reach the right talent, at the right time, at the right price.

Joel: The best part, wait for this, you're only pay for what Jobs2Careers delivers. So, if you're attracting the wrong candidates, or you feel like you're on a recruiting hamster wheel, go to and learn how On-Demand-Talent can get you better candidates for less money.

Chad: Or, do it the easy way. Go to and click on the Jobs2Careers logo. That's all about simple.

Joel: Well, you are a simple mind.

Chad: Very much.

Joel: Alright man. Let's get to it.

Chad: Got this Nick guy here, where are you from Nick, what do you do? What's this Honeit thing about before we give you this two minute pitch.

Nick: Hey guys. Thanks again for the opportunity. Nick Livingstone most recently from the Bay area. I've spent sometime in New York before that, but originally from the state of Washington.

Chad: Excellent. Excellent. Here's the format of the show. Very simple. You have two minutes to pitch Honeit. At the end of two minutes you're going to here the bell. Then Joel and I are going to hit you with rapid fire Q&A. If your answers aren't concise, Joel's going to hit you with bell or he might even hit you with his favorite crickets. That just means, tighten your shit up. At the end of Q&A, you're going to receive one of the three from both of us. Big applause, means that you kicked ass. Golf clap, means that you did okay but you need to tighten some shit up. You need to get to work. And the last one, you don't want this. The Firing Squad. That means your shit sicks and you need to go back to the drawing board. So that's Firing Squad, easy, and it's time to buckle up and pitch. Are you ready?

Nick: Yeah.

Joel: Two minutes starts, now.

Nick: Hey everybody. Nick Livingston with Honeit. After 15 years in the recruiting trenches, you know, I realized our conversations are important. You know, the daily phone conversations with candidates, that's kind of the initial step of the interview process. And I found most of my day with scheduling calls talking to candidates and sharing highlights with the clients. But I thought, you know, take a step back and look at our phone interviews. They're a black box with zero visibility into the questions that are asked, let alone answers that take place during those conversations. So, Honeit technology, it's simple, natural, phone interview technology. We let recruiters capture the great insights and answers during those conversations. Lots of competitive intelligence. Lots of insights again during these conversations that go unnoticed. And instead of scribbling notes and sharing opinions with hiring managers we make it really easy for recruiters to package up a couple of great answers that were heard during a live phone interview and share those with the client. Or share those with a hiring manager so that they can hear the candidate in their own words.

Nick: And what we're finding here is this is removing redundant steps of the interview process. No more two or three phone interviews before you invite a candidate on site. And similarly, once you decide you do want to hire someone, we're seeing this really accelerate offers, where a VP, a CEO can quickly hear a few highlights themselves and say, "Wow. That person sounds great. Those are great technical answers. I trust my team. Go ahead and hire him." So, we're excited to remove steps of the interview process, help recruiters communicate more efficiently and more effectively with clients and to remove a lot of this underlying misinterpretation and bias that goes along with interview communication.

Nick: So, again, natural phone interview technology. You can record, transcribe, and analyze live answers during your calls and share the best parts with other people.

Chad: Boom. It's like you're right on.

Joel: It's tight.

Joel: Nick I'm going to go first in a non-technical business question. How did you come up with the name, and is it a bitch to say it on sales calls?

Nick: It's a little of a bitch to say it on sales call, I'm not going to lie. Honeit, we've been through a couple pivots, and my two technical co-founders kind of, helped to come up with the name and it stuck. So we've kind of gone through ... not to say there might not be a name change in the future.

Chad: So, from the pitch, I mean there, sounds like there are ton of different things that Honeit can help companies and recruiters with. What is the major problem that you're trying to solve here?

Nick: I think it's interview communication, if we had to say like, very simplistic. I think, you know, even when a recruiter gets on the phone, they do all the work. They talk to a great candidate who says a lot of great things. I feel like you hang up the phone and the onus is on the recruiter to try to convince, to sell, to articulate to an in, to an internal higher manager or external client, why they felt this candidate is worthy of next steps, right.

Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Nick: And I felt like today, scribbled notes and our opinions, are all that recruiters to have to try and make that argument. And I'm saying, you know, why ... and so we're doing ourselves a de-service. We're making it even harder on ourself. I'm saying, screw my opinion, let's just share a couple of the great answers that we heard and say, "Hey, hiring manager. You're the expert. You're the QA director, this QA engineer just said a couple of great answers about writing scripts and, you know, automated testing, you tell me if that's a great answer." Right. So we're trying to remove some of the subjectivity and take some of the pressure off the recruiter's back.

Chad: So this is mainly on the backend, behind the scenes. Recruiters, hiring managers, back and forth, this really doesn't have a lot to do with candidate engagement, I'm I correct saying that?

Nick: I mean, our platform focuses on three steps right now. It's making it really easy to schedule these calls. So there is a bit of a candidate experience where they can click a simple scheduling link, right. No back and forth on scheduling and then, you know, these counter invites go out so the calls are locked in. So there's a bit of a candidate experience angle there. But, yeah. We're basically trying to improve the steps that are already happening, that I consider to be offline steps. You know, most of the ATSs and CRMs that I view, I even worked at Taleo. I'm a big fan of HR techs. I've been following the trends and the evolution of the ATS and CRM, but I would argue the three steps that I find myself doing as a recruiter, scheduling calls, talking to candidates, and submitting candidates, those three steps were pretty much offline experiences and outside of my ATS. So what we're trying to do, is bring those three steps, you know, back online.

Joel: Alright Nick. I'm going to address the big elephant in the room. Aren't you on the wrong side of history with this business? I mean, millennials and Gen Zs, they all text. They don't talk on the phone. You got automation coming into play, chat bots. I mean, no one actually wants to talk on the phone anymore.

Nick: I would disagree. I think candidates have questions too. I think they want to talk to somebody at a company, and I would argue it's more the vendor messaging that we've been seeing around. One-way interview technologies, one-way interview tools, where they're trying to say, "Yeah, recruiters. You don't have to talk to people." It's easier to put more work on the candidate and, you know, we'll take work off your plate. So, we're not trying to add work. We're trying to say, hey recruiters, if you think your conversations are important, and if you agree that candidates probably do want to talk to you to learn more about, and, there's an opportunity for you to sell the role, sell the company. We're saying, those conversations are great. I think it's two-way conversations, but I just say, there's a lot of data and intelligence in these conversations that recruiting teams and companies are missing out on.

Chad: Right. And to kind of spring board off of that question, you know, why should clients focus on an interview, which doesn't include the visual aspect, or video? And again, taking a look at mobile usage and being able to actually use the mobile phone for video as well, why get away from the actual visual piece?

Nick: I think video's interesting. Industry has combined video into a single topic. But I think the conversation is really more one-way, versus two-way interview tools. I'd say, Skype is great. Hangouts are great. Zoom is great, right. Those are two-way video experiences and all of my companies and my recruiters have used video tools, you know, at later stages of the process. So hiring managers, a lot of the times use video, two-way video conversations for those next steps, right.

Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Nick: But I would argue that most recruiters are still doing the initial conversation over the phone. Why? Because it's convenient for candidates who are busy working, who don't want to book a conference room to do a video call, right. And, yeah. I would argue ... What I'm excited about Honeit tool, is that we're not introducing additional bias or discrimination. I think as soon as you add video, and let alone two-way. I'm talking about the one-way video interview tools that are essentially extended job applications, right? There's a reason we don't put pictures on resumes yet it's okay to send the candidate a link to record themselves with, answer four questions on video as a second step of the application process. I don't understand how those are not introducing additional bias.

Joel: You're going to get Chad all excited talking about bias and compliance

Nick: You know, you don't tell it when you hear it, right? You can hear enthusiasm. You can hear personality. You can hear communication style. All of that you can hear over the phone. Our point is that, recruiters have typically heard it. But the next person in the hiring process didn't. All they got was some scribbled notes and a resume. And so that's why there has to be another one or two phone conversations, because everybody wants to hear it. But, I would argue you don't need three separate phone conversations to get to the uh huh. We're saying, and now a non-technical recruiter can ask three technical questions on that initial phone screen. The very same questions that a hiring manager would typically ask, or a tech lead, right? And now, it's no longer about a non-technical recruiter knowing a great answer. They can ask the great question and someone in the company can listen and decide if it's a good answer.

Nick: So, that's where this cooperation or collaboration starts to come in, and, you know, some people get scared of that. But really we're saying, "Hey recruiter, ask a couple great questions. Share the answers with someone who knows a great answer."

Chad: Oh, here's a good question. I mean, can you collaborate in the platform then? Because you're talking about the communication happening and you want to share these instances or these, let's say for instance, just these snippets, let's say.

Nick: Yeah.

Chad: Can you share just snippets of questions or just specific questions and not the entire interview?

Nick: That's the whole point right. We have 30 minutes phone screen. You're doing a lot o selling. You're pitching all this stuff, right. And when you get to those two knock-out questions of like, tell me about a time when, or what is your experience with this specific thing, that candidate is going to give a great minute, minute-half answer to those two questions. Those two highlights are what you can click and share with your clients.

Joel: Are you transcribing these conversations Nick?

Nick: Yes. We record the whole conversation. We transcribe the whole conversation, and then we actually, you know, record and transcribe just those select highlights or those snippets as you'd say. And everything can be searched. So now imagine a team of ten recruiters, 30 recruiters doing five calls a day, at the end of the week, you could search these conversations for competitive intelligence, what topics, trends, right. Now all of this ... This becomes very rich data and very big data very quickly.

Joel: Now, so my questions is, snippets are things like that, is there an analytics component to the product, and I guess, who are some of your competitors if you have any?

Nick: I think our biggest competitor to be honest is the telephone. People just, are used to picking up the telephone dialing a phone number and having a great 30 minute conversation. We're saying, do that, but connect to that call on the cloud so that you can record, transcribe and analyze those answers.

Chad: So, interview notes, the actual recording, transcriptions. You have integrations with Applicant Tracking Systems. Are they full integrations and can you take this data and push it into the ATS because, companies need to be able to do a better job of recording and reporting in their Applicant Tracking System off of this information as well.

Nick: Yeah. I've been a HR buyer for ten years. I mean I've you know, usually been the one purchasing technologies so I know how important integration is, which is why we designed this system from the ground up to play nice with any CRM or ATS without a rigorous integration. Although, we are excited about integrations as well. But I'm saying, to use Honeit, all a recruiter needs to do is put up a scheduling link and [inaudible 00:14:01] right, into your email templates and ATS templates that you're already using. And this is a Honeit scheduling link, so it's really easy to schedule these calls, and then after you hang up the telephone, in Honeit you have all of the transcription, all of the audio highlights, all of the conversation, and then there's export likes, right. Where you could click a button and all of that phone interview intelligence can live in your ATS or CRM.

Joel: Nick, how does the voice assistant revolution with solutions like Alexa, Siri, et cetera. Affect your business or doesn't it?

Nick: We're very excited about that. We're focusing on the initial step. The first stage of the interview process, the phone screens. But, you know, we're learning a lot. The system has been getting smarter and smarter with the answers, the insights, the questions, et cetera. And so I'm very interested in taking Honeit to impersonal interviews, right. So, I think audio devices in the room are great for us, right. And that we're developing the technology that can understand a good versus great answer. And that can be beyond just the initial phone conversation.

Joel: So can we expect you to be on services like Alexa? Like would I be able to say, Alexa, play back the Honeit interview with such and such?

Nick: Without disclosing too much, we're really excited about that, and there'll likely be something announced in the short-term.

Joel: Fair enough.

Chad: Sounds like some of the congressional testimonies that I've been hearing. So, saying ... Talking about the landscape over all, which I think is incredibly cool, especially with technology, you're talking about voice assist, but another piece of the landscape is the competitive piece. So, Indeed just acquired, what, months ago. How do you think that's going to impact the interviewing and assessment space overall? Having a name that big start to suck up an interview assessment type of platform?

Nick: Yeah, again. I think it goes back to ... and I'm glad there's visibility into interview technology that are more than just the a one-way tools, right. But hey, it's because there's 20 or so one-way video interview technologies out there that have been around for a decade, right. And I think companies are starting to realize the one way interview experience is not going to get you the best candidates, right. The best candidates are going to go across the street to your competitor, have a phone conversation and go on site, right. They don't want extra work. So, I'm excited about anything that's going to push this industry for real-time communication and or, more data-driven and, analytics. Interview data, interview analytics, because I think, while conversation's important, we still are trying to get towards that quality of higher metric. But until we start to know what goes into interview conversations, what questions are asked, or what makes a good versus great answer, you know, we're not going to be able to correlate hirers with quality.

Nick: Or be able to go back and say, "Well how did our best employers answer those initial questions?" Those are leading indicators that companies can start to look at.

Joel: I've got a blocking and tackling question here. If I'm going to set up an interview with a candidate, do they call a phone number with your system? Do they have to go to a URL, like, walk me through that process.

Nick: Yeah. So we have U.S. customers who just, you know, they just turn on the phone conversation checkbox, right. So candidates gets a branded email confirmation with a counter invite. And for the candidate, it's calling a phone number and entering your interview pin number. So, just like you would connect to maybe a webinar, you're calling into a conference slot. So that's how the candidate would do. And then some of our international customers, they love the ability to just send candidates a VoIP link, so there's no international charges, it doesn't matter what country you're in, candidates can just talk through their computer or talk over their smartphone, with a recruiter sitting anywhere.

Nick: And then to the recruiter, similarly, they can connect through their telephone and connect to the call that way. Or most recruiters, they just plug in their head bugs like we're doing now and talk through their computer. So there is a VoIP aspect built in with the platform on both sides.

Chad: Excellent. I'm sure with your platform, they don't have the problems like you did with your Apple crappy Mac, before we started this.

Nick: Yeah. No plugins to download, no operating systems to worry about. Yeah, so the candidate is simple. They just dial a phone number like they're used to and they have a great conversation with somebody on the other end.

Chad: Yeah. Okay. So, how many customers do you guys have today?

Nick: We're not disclosing kind of the number, but I can tell you we're working with companies in the US both on teams, internal corporate TA teams. And we're really seeing a lot of growth internationally. Customers in Mexico and Europe et cetera. So we're excited being a global communication platform.

Chad: Well, let me attack it from this side. Do you have case studies that prove that this solution works?

Nick: We do. We do. We've got testimonials from candidates who say, "Wow. I can have a great conversation with a recruiter and then on site." We've got great feedback from higher managers saying, "Wow. The candidate looks light on paper, but as soon as I heard a couple answers, holy smocks, they know what they're talking about. Let's get him on site."

Nick: I think our fire alarm just went off. That's not-

Chad: Firing Squad.

Nick: That's not a button on my side. That's amazing.

Chad: That's right people. Firing Squad. The big question is, is Nick going to stand with the smoke all around him or is he going to run. That's the question.

Nick: I think we got a couple minutes. I think we can talk around this fire.

Chad: Okay, so. Who is your biggest advocate and what company are they from?

Nick: You know, we've got folks at LinkedIn who are excited about this. We've got, you know, VPs of HR who are excited about this. I think anybody who recognizes that the interview process ... A lot of people will tell you that the interview process is broken, right. I'm saying let's do a small change of behavior to share a little bit of data, instead of sharing opinions, and you wouldn't believe the trust and credibility recruiters can build with higher management, when they start to remove opinions and perception from the process. It's like, "Hey, this is fact. This is what the candidate said. Let's talk about the candidate. Let's not talk about my interpretation of what the candidate said."

Joel: Nick, I always appreciate the fact that people that have been in the business start companies. Your background is as a recruiter, and I think we can all understand the benefits of being a recruiter and starting a business in this space. But are there any disadvantages?

Nick: You know, yeah, I probably think about things a little too much, you know what I mean. I think about all the nuances and the what if's just because I've been in the trenches and, but at the same time, I'm really excited about focusing on something that's just universal, right. Like every recruiter's on the phone doing phone interviews, yet, you look at the telephones, and how much have they evolved in the last 20 years, right. We've got computers in our pockets.

Joel: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Nick: Yet, the phone interview has not evolved. We're still scribbling notes, right. On a pad or paper, or maybe we're typing notes, right. And that just seems so archaic and at the end of the day, I look at my hiring managers and I look at why recruiters we have this kind of strange reputation, right. And I go, "It's because we're just sharing scribbled notes and opinions. Like, we're not providing a consultative, we're not sharing evidence, right. We're not being consultive. We're not ..." So, you know, ultimately, this takes the pressure off recruiters. We don't have to talk, every time we submit a candidate, our neck is not on the line. It's our reputation that's on the line. It's what a candidate said.

Chad: From a company stand point, I think this is a great angle for you to be hitting as well. There's data, there's proof. It's all there, it's in voice, and it's transcribed. So, a couple of different things. First and foremost, you can tell, specifically what kind of work your recruiters are doing. But you can also take a look at the information. There's no he said, she said. And then we start taking or we start talking about bias. You start talking about recording and reporting off of these interviews. Companies do not have said data today, because again, they don't record or they don't have this transcription available. The biggest key though, and again, I just want a little bit of clarity on this, if I have the transcription in Honeit and I have the actual voice snippets and all other great data, can I get that into my Applicant Tracking System?

Nick: Yes. Those export links make it super easy to get all of the rich audio intelligence and notes and transcription into you ATS and then with specific integration partners, we're very excited about, you know, extending that integration to be, you know, more robust and more inclusive, and, yeah, more of a seamless process. You click a button in your ATS, just kick off the work flow, et cetera.

Joel: Nick talk to me about pricing as well as money raised, are you looking for money in the future, like sort of, what does that look like.

Nick: Yeah. We've been pretty boot strapped to date. We've been really focused on nailing the products and whittling it down to its core. So, we're excited now to have some good logos and some good customers paying and using the system and giving us great feedback, and you know, we're working on our, we're actually pulling out a version two of the platform right now, to kind of, incorporate what we've learned and take things further. Make it more extendable. And you know, so we have raised a small kind of friends and family. But it's really been more about boot strapping the business and now that we have customers, now that we've got a great story to tell, we're actively starting to folks and focus about raising a round.

Joel: There you go. And pricing?

Nick: Pricing. So, it's per recruiter, per month. Kind of a SAS subscription model to get going. And then once companies add enough users, they can, we can switch to more of a volume based, so they can pay, well, by the minute. You can say 30,000 40,000 minutes a month. However, many recruiters they might have. So it's not about seats, it's more about usage of the platform.

Chad: Usage, and the usage is all pretty much allocated. It sounds like by the minute.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. To easily get going, you can think of it, we start at around 80 dollars per month, per recruiter. And that's unlimited interviews and unlimited transcription. And then as you add users, there's opportunities for kind of, volume discounts or to a certain point, you know, we're happy to kind of work with larger companies and just say, "Hey, I'm going to reduce the product for a flat monthly rate."

Chad: Okay. So, here's the question that I'm goin to pivot from Joel's question as he asked about dollars. I believe, and I think Joel does too, this is the year of acquisition. Are you being corted right now?

Nick: Well, you know you can, we've designed this to fill some gaps, right. We've designed the scheduling, screening, sharing, you know, those three steps, and so, we've designed this to kind of complement the ATS or CRMs. I guess I can't say if we're being corted right now or not, but we're excited to go into business. And we're excited to bring interview innovation to the masses.

Joel: Great, non-answer.

Chad: I like how you pivoted out of that. You've been watching may too many congresstional testimonies lately.

Nick: Hard to avoid it these days, isn't it?

Chad: Yeah. No shit right. So Joel are you ready to, you're ready to give Nick your grade?

Joel: I'm ready to this. I'll go first.

Joel: Okay Nick. My knee-jerk reaction to this product and my first, you know, line of questioning, well these guys are going to get squashed by the wave of technology around AI, automation, video, you know, this just seems like and old technology. It just feels like it's antiquated. And then, I know you, I know that you've got a great history in recruiting. I know you've got a great team. Your advisors, which are on your site, are top-notch. And then I remember the industry itself. And our industry as a whole is very slow to change. They like stuff the way it is. There's you know ... all these AI and fancy things that Chad and I talk about on a regular basis, are a long way off and they may not even happen. They may not even be a big deal, right. So to me it's like, you've got a guy that knows recruiting at its heart. You've got a team around that understands it. You've got you know, solid technology. Phone conversation isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Joel: Someone has to be the leader in this space, and why not you guys. So for me, it's a little cautious on the future, but as far as right now, I think you guys have a great product and I'm going to go applause on this one.

Chad: Big applause from Joel. Okay.

Nick: Thanks Joel.

Chad: My turn, my turn. So, first and foremost, I agree a 100% and one of the things that Joel said right out of the gate is something that you have to always frame in this conversation, is the new work force. Millennials. Gen Z, and how you know, they're more focused on Snap Chat and chatting versus actually using the phone. I mean we have conversations all the time about not having conversations on the phone. Although, we do live and work in an industry that is really focused on pragmatic in simple ways to make their job easier every single day.

Chad: Not to mention, you also provide transcription. All of this information that doesn't the he said, she said, kind of scenario, which makes it easier and better for recruiters and it makes it better for companies. Best part of all, all that data can be pushed into the Applicant Tracking System. So, because of the industry that we're in, keep it simple stupid. And I know that you have your eye toward the future, but for the now, there's no question man. This for me is definitely a big applause.

Nick: Well, thank you Chad.

Joel: Way to go Nick.

Chad: Alright.

Nick: Thanks guys. I mean, I guess I, you know, and I know you, don't get me wrong. Like saying phone interview technology makes me cringe a little bit, right. Because it does sound archaic, but I think we're more excited about the interview data and interview intelligence that happens in these conversations and, you know, we originally built the system to work for both phone and video, but we ultimately pulled down that video aspect because we realized just conversations are that much more convenient. So, you know, we've not lost touch of video and we're very excited about what we can start to do with all of this data now that we have it. I think one of the big things with AI and [inaudible 00:29:10] learning and natural numbers processing is that people talk about it, yet they haven't been collecting all of the data.

Joel: Nick, show's over man. You won. If our audience wants to learn more about you or maybe a special Chad and Cheese coupon code, where would they do that?

Nick: We can talk about that., you know, just submit a demo request, happy to chat. Do a live conversation trough the system and share my screen. We actually use our technology for our demo so you can experience how easy it is use it as a candidate, and we can talk about a discount for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel: Alright. So call Honeit,, mention the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Chad: Not Boneit

Joel: And Nick and his team will sling you a major discount, cool?

Joel: Alright, thanks Chad, thanks Nick, thanks to Jobs2Careers.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Our newest and only sponsor for this show. Big ups to them. We appreciate it. And we out.

Chad: We out.

Nick: Thanks guys.

Announcer: This has been the firing squad. Be sure to subscribe to the Chad and Cheese podcast so you don't miss and episode. And if you're a start-up who wants to face the firing squad, contact the boys and today. That's

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