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DEATH MATCH: Talkpush's Max Armbruster

Talkpush recently faced a panel of four judges at TAtech in New Orleans for Chad & Cheese's Death Match competition pitting four start-ups against each other.

Listen now to see how it went down for them.


Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, rash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Announcer: Welcome to Chad and Cheese Death Match, part two of four. This Chad and Cheese Death Match episode features Max Armbruster, CEO of Talkpush. Death Match took place at TAtech on September 27th in New Orleans at 9:00 A.M. in the morning with a room full of TAtech practitioners loaded with mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer, and Chad and Cheese snark. Enjoy, after a word from our sponsor.

Chad: Hey Joel?

Joel: What up?

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

Joel: Well Jobs2Careers thought so.

Chad: Jobs2Careers? You mean Talroo.

Joel: Talroo?

Chad: Yeah, Talroo. T-A-L-R-O-O.

Joel: What is that, like, a cross between talent and a kangaroo?

Chad: No. It's a cross between talent and recruiting,

Joel: But -

Joel: Aha, okay. So, it's totally a data driven talent attraction, which means the Talroo platform enables recruiters to reach the right talent at the right time and at the right price.

Chad: Okay, so that was weirdly intuitive, but yes, guess what the best part is?

Joel: Let me take a shot here, you only pay for the candidates Talroo delivers.

Chad: Holy shit. Okay so, you've heard this before.

Chad: So, if you're out there listening in podcast land, and you are attracting the wrong candidates, and we know you are, or you feel like you're in a recruiting hamster wheel and there's just nowhere to go right? You can go to Again, that's and learn how Talroo can get you better candidates for less cash.

Joel: Or, just go to and click on the Talroo logo. I'm all about the simple.

Chad: You are a simple man.

Chad: Alright, make sure you've got that drink in hand. Anybody who wants a beer, if you would rather have a beer, we have beer up here at the Georgia stage so ...

Peter: Good morning everyone.

Joel: Good morning

Peter: You can tell there's very few things that would bring a crowd like this out at 9:00 A.M. after a night on the town in New Orleans, so props to our good friends Chad and Cheese without further ado here's Chad and the Death Match.

Chad: Hello.

Joel: Good morning.

Chad: Good morning. So, today we're going to do our very first Death Match, okay? So, hopefully everything goes off without a hitch. If you've listened to the podcast, we do firing squad, this is kind of like an iteration. What's gonna happen is we have four contestants. They're going to have two minutes to pitch. No PowerPoint presentations. They're going free falling, okay? So, no PowerPoint presentations, they're going to do a two minute pitch and then after that the balance of their time, their fifteen minutes, is going to be Q&A by our American Idol judging panel.

Chad: Alright. Next we have the CEO Max Armbruster of Talkpush. Bring it. Push it real good. All this ...

Chad: Alright Max, so two down. You ready?

Max: Ready, ready.

Joel: Love it.

Chad: A little anxious?

Max: A little bit, yeah.

Chad: Would you like me to get off the stage so you can do this shit?

Max: No, I can -

Chad: We can switch.

Joel: Fight!

Chad: Let's do this!

Max: Alright. Thank you, thank you Chad.

Max: Good morning! So,

Joel: Morning.

Max: Talkpush in two minutes. Recruiters like to have it all. On one hand, they want to us AI and big data in order to automate all the boring stuff like scheduling interviews, doing background checking, re-engaging old databases. But on the other hand, nobody wants to be hired by a robot. People want to talk to people. They want to have a personal, individual conversation.

Max: I'm a little bit out of breath from running on stage.

Max: And so, it's very hard today with an ATS and a CRM tag to get both of those experiences. The automation and the personal touch. Until Talkpush. So what we do is, we work at the front of the marketing, of the recruitment funnel, and we automate the initial engagement with the candidate with conversational agents that optimize conversion rates. So, that translates into a seventy percent reduction in marketing cost per hire because those conversational agents, a.k.a chat bots, were talking on Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, in career sites, they're really good at getting that candidate to the next step.

Max: Once you're at the next step, then you want to talk to a recruiter. And, with our experience, the handover is seamless. So, you go from talking to a bot if you're a candidate, to a recruiter seamlessly. And the recruiter can then take over from their mobile app and talking to the candidate. So, we use the word "augmented recruiter" to talk about what the recruiters can do. They can do so much more with our system. This is why millions of candidates are already being processed on Talkpush with big brands like Adecco, Excenture, AIA, Starwood. Using our system, they come to us because they realize the way you talk to candidates is a very core part of your employer brand, and they use to level up the recruitment experience.

Chad: Excellent.

Joel: Thank you.

Chad: Deb, you get to go first.

Deb: I'll go first.

Chad: Okay.

Deb: Okay, I have so many questions for you. Love the technology, I am just curious from a legal perspective, I mean I almost broke out in hives when I was looking at it just thinking about financial services in particular. Can you address, have you vetted whether or not that's something a really risk-averse client could do?

Max: So, the risk for banks, insurance companies-

Deb: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Max: I'm not a lawyer, but I would say, every interaction is opted in because we, one of our first channel has been Facebook. And Facebook they've got very strict terms about how you play in that platform. You really do have to opt in, they do not allow for spam. With Whatsapp, it's the same concept. And we've applied these same rules to every interfaces. So, everyone is opted in and everybody can opt out. And, if you've ever been on the phone with an IVR and you know, start swearing at it, you know, swearing, then nobody's listening to you. But, in our case, if a candidate starts saying things that indicate that they're, you know, dissatisfied, absolutely we will stop the bot. And we will send a notification for the recruiter so that they can step in and do some damage control. So, I know I'm not exactly answering your question, but-

Deb: It's okay.

Max: Yeah.

Chad: It's not okay, Deb.

Chad: So we start talking about chatbots-

Deb: See, this is why!

Chad: Not okay!

Deb: This is why, I'm nicer than you. This is why.

Chad: This is why.

Chad: We just talked about end-to-end. So, define where you pick up-

Max: Yup.

Chad: And where you leave off.

Max: So, I like the expression click-to-hire. From the first click to the moment they are hired. But, because messaging is such a sticky platform, so unless you do something terrible like, in the example I said where you opt out because you say, you know, you're upset. If the candidate is upset, you opt them out but if not, you can really keep them through the whole journey. So, the way every candidate who is talking to an employer needs to be viewed as a subscriber. They subscribe to a feed of information. And then they can subscribe to subfeeds within that feed. So they can say, "We're going to move him to onboarding, we're going to move him to exit interviews..." So, some clients use us for the exit interviews actually, because sometimes it's easier to talk to a robot than to a person.

Joel: Nice apron, by the way. I love that it says God on the belt.

Max: Oh!

Joel: That's not humble at all.

Max: Yeah, that's a brand.

Max: I can go inside.

Joel: Oh, nice! Can we get a picture of that, right there?

Joel: It seems to me like, your company is-

Max: Thank you.

Joel: What else is in there?

Max: It's cold today.

Joel: Your product seems to be a jack of all trades, if you will. And historically companies that try to do it all tend to not do anything very well.

Max: Uh-uh (negative)

Joel: Do you worry about that? Is that an issue? You know, selling your product to a market that probably has trouble digesting one product, you're throwing a ton of products at them. Talk about that and how you tackle that challenge.

Max: Yeah, thanks. Well first, we're focused on the high volume space. So, if I've got a customer coming to me saying, "I'm having a really hard time finding this profile, this profile..." and it's not a high volume game, I usually tell them, you know, work with your existing tools. So, we're really focused on how you go from 10 thousand views to one hire in like a few hours. That keeps us very focused. So, I think that's one way to look at it.

Max: Also, the fact that we are integrated and seamless is core to our service. Yes, I would love to have like, just one layer of the text tag but for the candidate it would be a shitty experience because they'd go from "I'm applying on this surface, now I have to go to this assessment, and now I have to talk to the candidate on this platform..." And it's not what we want to do. We really want to make it so effortlessly that in five minutes they know whether they're going to be shortlisted for the role, they're already scheduled for an interview, and to get that kind of seamlessness it's easier to do if you try to do, you know, try to do it all.

Faith: So, you just said that with 10 thousand views you can get them to a hire.

Max: Yeah.

Faith: -Just a few hours.

Max: Yeah.

Faith: Can you explain how that happens?

Max: Yeah. So, it was in the title of one of my presentations. 10 thousand to one. And typically the process is someone sees an ad, they click on it, it immediately opens up their SMS or their Facebook messenger, or Whatsapp. They get asked to opt in, and then they'd be asked a couple of open-ended question using an LP, you can say, so we can build bots that are different for different environments.

Max: So, if you're a company that is very spread out geographically, you would first want to make sure you got location right. If you're a company that is concentrated on a couple of sites but you got two or three job types, then you focus on that. So, you put your questions in an order so that within two questions you can basically sort out the traffic for 98% of the traffic. That's the first customization you do on the bot.

Max: And then you can decide whether you want to do deep screening or not, depending on how difficult it is to get candidates in your environment. So, we work in, I think 12 countries today, and one of the hardest places is actually the U.S. because candidates, they're very angry with their bots for some reason. So, you have to be extremely light. We advise our customers to keep it to like three or four questions and then let's end it there, let's move to the interview and let's quick as possible put them on the phone with someone.

Max: And so that's what our system does. If someone is shortlisted the recruiter would get a notification on his app, native app - iPhone, Android - and would have the chance to immediately call the candidate from there. The conversation can be recorded, and they can also chat if necessary, so as the previous people on stage were saying, we communicate through text all the time. If a candidate comes to your office for an interview and they're going to be late by five minutes, that's how they should be communicating back to you. What else are they going to do? Call the switchboard? Who's got a switchboard today?

Deb: Okay, so my question is around the marketing percentage that you mentioned early in your presentation. You had said that 17%, there was a 17% drop in marketing costs, and I was just curious-

Max: I meant 70.

Deb: Seventy.

Max: Sorry.

Deb: Can you, I was like "Wow, oh, that's not so great."

Deb: Can you tell me was this marketing for recruitment marketing only or did this encompass other costs?

Max: So when I said the marketing cost per hire is reduced, it's because we have to change the metric from pay-per-click to pay-per-hire, right? And the only way to do that is to have a whole view on how much money you're spending on each media, if you're the employer, and then dividing that by number of hires. And we can come in and say, you know, your 10 thousand people, 10 thousand clicks, how many of them are you gonna get actually through the door? So, that's the calculation we do.

Max: And we can reduce, so the 70 reduction in cost per hire, was done through two methods. One of them was by changing the channel mix a little bit, so instead of advertising in channels and job boards that are super specific and super active job seekers, to go a little bit broader. To use things like Facebook and Instagram to actually generate a lot of quote-unquote "bad traffic." But now that you got the AI that's working for you, bad traffic can convert into good traffic much better. So you can change your channel mix that way and we've helped a number of customer move in that direction. And reduce the amount of spending they do on active job boards and spend more on passive domains like Instagram and Facebook.

Chad: So, in the high volume space, and, but more than likely not all your clients, are using you end-to-end. So what segment is the most popular segment that your clients are starting to go after first, and then probably broadening up with?

Max: As any start-up CEO, I talk to other CEOs any chance I get. And I try to get them to say, "Yeah, I will push this to my team." But actually, 90% of our deals we end up doing them with a sourcing manager and a recruitment manager. And anybody who has worked in this world knows that nobody cares what's happening six months from now. They just want their numbers, next month, two months from now. So we focus on that. And in order to hit those numbers, well, we have to show them, we have to focus on the sourcing bit. So that's my answer.

Max: We focus on the sourcing bit and when people initially looked at chatbots and this kind of technology three years ago, everybody was asking me, "So, you're a screening engine?" And yeah, but not really. You know, screening and sourcing when we're talking about this initial engagements, they're kind of intertwined and mixed and I can't tell you which one we are. But I think the main thing is just getting people through the door so in that sense I would say, we are more focused on sourcing.

Max: And then of course, for the deep screening, you know, the personality assessments and all that, it's better to be in a controlled environment. So, bring the people in and then do the deep screening, and the profile analysis. So that's a different, you know, different approach than the tradi-, the leaders in video interviewing, for example.

Joel: You're very focused on voice which is sort of unique in the industry. Can you expand upon that, like, can you transcribe conversations, are they searchable, et cetera? And where are you going to be taking voice? Will one of your customers one day be able to say, "Hey Alexa, find me a chef in Arkansas" or something?

Max: You mean, the recruiter talking and-

Joel: Correct

Max: Then passing a command?

Joel: Right.

Max: Yeah, so we are definitely going to add voice command. And I think that every company in tech over the next six months will do that, just so they can do a voice press release, and we will too. That's okay.

Max: The beauty of voice for me is when you listen to somebody like Chad and Cheese on the podcast, you immediately get a sense for personality. And when you listen to a candidate, you also get that. But you can do that without having to ask people to stand in front of a webcam or download an app on their phone today. That's what's cool. Like, it's so easy, it takes a minute, they use their phone.

Max: So, obviously you build a stronger connections with voice. You feel like there's personality. If I ask you a technical question and you give me a three paragraph answer, perfectly scripted, I know you copied and pasted it from someone. But if I ask you the same question in voice and I can hear you shaking your boots, then that's good, that's valuable information. So that's why I'm long on voice.

Max: But to answer your question, transcripts we do it and you can use them for screening and for short-listing candidates, of course. But actually in the U.S. we do much more text because people assume that everyone speaks perfect English. But in other markets where we are hiring multi-linguals, it is useful to have a one, two minute recording of having someone speaking in Japanese or in Chinese.

Joel: And where can our audience find out more about you?

Max: Go on Facebook, look at Talkpush, or

Joel: Thank you.

Max: Thank you.

Announcer: This has been the Chad and Cheese podcast. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss a single show. And be sure to check out our sponsors because they make it all possible. For more, visit Oh yeah, you're welcome.

Announcer: Thanks to our partners at TAtech, the Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. Remember to visit

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