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DEATH MATCH: Assess First's David Bernard

Welcome to Death Match North America 2019 - part two of four. This Chad and Cheese Death Match episode features a contestant all the way from France - David Bernard, CEO, and Founder of Assess First.

Death Match took place at TA Tech on September 26th, 2019 in Austin Texas with a room full of TA Tech practitioners.

The bar was open, as usual, Chad and Cheese snark was flying and the judges were ready to light contestants up!

Death Match is brought to you by Alexander Mann Solutions.


AMS: Death Match is brought to you by Alexander Mann Solutions. Hiring great people is no easy feat. There are new obstacles around every corner, and your competition for talent is intense. Together, we need to be bold in our approach to tackling these challenges. Alexander Mann Solutions can be your bold next step. With a team of nearly 5,000 people around the globe delivering a market-leading recruitment, outsourcing, and talent consulting services. And, in early 2020, Alexander Mann Solutions will unveil an exciting new digital solution that will disrupt how you connect to job seekers and hire the best fit candidates.

AMS: Now's the time to create purpose-built solutions focused on solving your unique challenges when it comes to engaging and hiring the people your business depends on. To learn more about how Alexander Mann Solutions is working with talent acquisition professionals around the globe, visit

Intro: 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 hurts, complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for the Chad & Cheese Podcast.

Chad: Welcome to Death Match North America 2019, part two of four. This Chad & Cheese Death Match episode features a contestant all the way from France, David Bernard, CEO and founder of Assess First. Death Match took place at TAtech on September 26th 2019, in Austin, Texas with a room full of TAtech practitioners. The bar was open. As usual, Chad & Cheese snark was flying, and the judges were ready to light contestants up. Enjoy.

Peter: If you've not been to a TAtech event before, you are in for a memorable treat. You're not here to see me, so without further ado, let me introduce podcasters extraordinaire Chad & Cheese.

Chad: Raise that drink, everybody.

Chad: So, thanks, first and foremost, thanks Peter and TAtech for making sure that we had alcohol in the morning, because a lot of us got in late. We need that? Yeah, keep the party going.

Chad: So, Death Match, who's seen a Death Match before? This is our third Death Match. There we go. So you know ... that's why you're here, right? Death Match, really a variation of Firing Squad. This is more the onstage live version. So, obviously for listeners of the podcast, check out Firing Squad of every single one of these pitches today.

Chad: Without further ado, today we have four startups. They will have two minutes to pitch, after those two minutes, we have a stunning panel of judges who includes Cindy Songne from Talroo, Quincy Valencia from Alexander Mann Solutions. Woohoo. Give it up. And Robert Ruff Sovren, Sovern Technologies, everybody. All amazing sponsors and we love them.

Chad: All ready. Oh wait a minute. We got to let this music start.

Chad: There we go. We have David Bernard from AssessFirst. There he is. There it is. Work it. Work it.

Chad: All right. Yes. No, I just picked the music for him. Are you ready?

David Bernard: Yeah, I am.

David Bernard: Okay. We will agree on the fact that using assessment for hiring, it's a good idea, because it helps you see who your candidates really are as a human being, far beyond their resume of their past experiences. But the problem is that most recruiters use it the wrong way. They use it just as a descriptive tool. It means that, usually they ask the candidate to fill in their questionnaires, and after that they just end up with a description, simple description of their behaviors, or their motivations, their personalities, things like that.

David Bernard: But in the end does it really help them take better decisions? Not really. That's precisely the reason why we created Assess First. Once they use our AI-powered predictive platform, what they can do is that they can start by identifying, by discovering the type of profile they have to look after, and for that they just have to invite a current employee. They fill in the Assess First profile, and after that, very important, they rate them on two key factors: the performance they deliver on the job, but also the quality of their attitude.

David Bernard: Doing that, we create predictive models, so our algorithm take care of everything. And it has been demonstrated numerous time that every time our candidate, our clients, as they use those predictive model to hire their new employee, they recruit people who are going to perform better, faster, but also who can stay longer on the job, all while being happy and fully engaged.

David Bernard: And to be sure that we propose an extraordinary experience for the candidate, we give them, even if you do not select them for the job, we give them an access to their full report with awesome information concerning who they are, what are their talents, and also a few advices on how they could be more effective.

David Bernard: And today in the world there are 3500 clients who use it.

Quincy: All right, here we go. First of all, good entrance, it was very nice.

David Bernard: Thank you.

Quincy: So, David, a couple of questions for you. First, what model is your assessment built off of?

David Bernard: For example, we have four personalities based on the big five, because it's cross cultural, and we use for aptitude the Carol model, which analyze the mental agility of people, and also PE Fit, the person-environment fit model for motivation, which analyzes the capacity of people to do the job at three different level, level of the job, level of the team, and the level of the organization with the culture.

Quincy: Okay good, and what is the delivery mechanism of the assessment? Is it verbal? Is it just written questions? Is it visual? How does it work?

David Bernard: It's a mix of that. Basically it's a questionnaire. So you know you have to pick up the right behavior, we propose you two statement, you have to select the one you prefer. And we also have a more gamified version for everything that revolves around aptitudes.

Quincy: Okay, great. And approximately on average, how long does it take to complete the assessment in your format?

David Bernard: It's aiming at eight to 10 minutes per questionnaire. So we have brain for attitudes, drive for motivation and shape for personality. But to be sure that the candidate completes all the assessment, we give them a feedback. Every time they finish a part we give them access to more information. The other, more information, and once they finish every things they can even compare them to more than 400 different function and roles.

Quincy: And so, final question from me that you'll probably get from everyone, which is what is the differentiator from Assess First and something else? There are many assessments that are built in the big five model out there.

David Bernard: We made it very candidate centric. That's the first thing, because most of the time it's like a pain in the ass for the candidate when they have to complete that, and we made sure that they can take their profile with them and they can, for example, share it to whoever they like. 36% of the candidate of our clients will share it on LinkedIn.

David Bernard: But I think the better differentiator, it's really the capacity to predict success, because lots of companies are saying, "Okay, we have psychometrics, we can do that." But the thing is that we allow our clients to directly measure the return on investment that they can have using Assess First. For example, you hire people using AssessFirst, and after six months, one year, one year and a half or two years, you can rate them, your new employees, on performance quality or attitude, and after that you can compare that with the employee you had before and we show an increase.

Quincy: That's great. I lied when I said that was the last question.

What is your completion rate overall of people-

David Bernard: What is what?

Quincy: What is the completion rate? If you have three separate models-

David Bernard: The completion rate is 86%.

Robert: Where do you see this in the funnel? Do you see this on the front end of every part of the process, or do you see that this is for a select group of preselected candidates?

David Bernard: Our clients, they can use it both ways. Some do that at the very end of the process with only the shortlisted candidate, but we absolutely do not recommend to do it like that, because you lose all the value. We recommend to use it at the very beginning of the process, because doing that, you can pre-select your people. Imagine you have a people, you pre-select them on resume, or you ask them to complete the questionnaire, but if there is no pre-selection, if it's the first step, you can even get rid of the resume for certain function like sales people or people who have to manage other people, and doing that you can discover people you wouldn't have a look on their resume. But you can bring more diversity in the workplace using it that way.

Robert: I'm a big believer in this kind of thing, using subjective information that's somewhat objective, in other words, attribute oriented information. But what confuses me is that it's always seemed to me that attributes are something that you can't really change. These are things that you're born with, aptitudes, excuse me, I shouldn't say attributes, but you were saying that you will give people recommendations on how they can improve. So if I'm an introvert, or I'm an extrovert, I don't really want to change. I want to continue to be me. What I want your thing to do is slot me in the most appropriate job in that company, and not view it as pass / fail. So I'm making a big leap here that you are in the pass / fail realm. Tell me I'm wrong.

David Bernard: The fact is actually all, our personality, and it evolves from zero to approximately 30 years old. After that it stay quite stable. But the fact is that lots of people are not happy in the work they are doing. I think it's something like 91% of people are not fully engaged in their work. They are not happy. And most of the time it's because people try to mimic the perfect person in the position. And the type of advice we give them is that, "Okay, you have some strong points for that role. You have a potential areas for development. We advise you to work on your areas of development just a little bit for it to stop those areas to preventing you or to work well with others," but we recommend them to work on what is already a strong point.

Joel: You're a pretty well established brand in Europe, particularly in France. By your accent, I'm sure everyone could have guessed that. But US is a much different market. It's the largest market in the world. What is your plan to conquer America?

David Bernard: Our plan, first it was to make small cultural adaptation, because human beings are all the same across the planet. Of course there are cultural differences, but we all want the same thing. We all want to be in a job that is fulfilling for us, in which we can perform, we can express our talents, express who we are, because we just have one life. So it would be dumb not to do that. And so the product is basically the same, but for example, we saw that US customer, they are more attentive to the ROI part, because in France for example, most of the clients they use it just as another tool, thing like that, just to add some more information. But here we have to be very concise when we were in present the product and everything.

Joel: Talk to me about sales, marketing and partnership strategy.

David Bernard: We have a lots of integration. For example, we are already integrated with Smart Recruiters, with Greenhouse, with SAP, and we are working through our API to make it available to customers who already use those platform.

Cindy: Quick question, same vein. Aside from assessment companies, where do you go after that budget? Who are your competitors?

David Bernard: Who are our competitor? We can see that for example, lots of the time, when clients come to us, they think that our competitors are like a company like a SHL, like [Organ 00:14:12], like [inaudible 00:14:12], but for us, really, it was like if the road splitted, you have assessment providers who continue to make it like the old way, very descriptive, and assessment providers like AssessFirst who decided to take the predictive way, but most of the time when a client, when they want something that is predictive of future performance, it can be like they have AssessFirst on one side and other solutions that analyze resume. Sometimes it can be lots of companies. But for example, we already identify a company like, we do a great job in Canada.

Quincy: Do you see yourself as strictly obviously beyond just an assessment company when you're involving predictive analytics in your words, but do you see the value of AssessFirst as being, like you talked about in France, another data point to evaluate a candidate. Are you seeing yourself as also adding efficiency to a process and if so, where is that efficiency added and what are you taking the place of?

David Bernard: I think it's a value we add today is that it helps companies to identify people who have the good mindset to integrate in the cultures, things like that. But I think the best value we can add, it's the turn, a little pivot we are doing right now, we have five minutes people who completed the AssessFirst profile on one side, 3500 different companies. At one point we said, "Okay people, they do not want tests. They want predictive solution." But no, they do not want predictive solution. What they want is people who are going to perform and stay longer on the job. And so we are planning to move from a strictly pre-selection solution to more of a platform to help companies meet the people they need to have to be successful there.

Chad: What types of assessments do you do? Do you have coding assessments? Is it pretty much the gambit? What types of assessments?

David Bernard: We're on the soft skills part on the potential. So for us, every human being has a combination of three key factors, the way in which they think, mental agility, what motivate them, their drivers and motivation, and how they're going to behave on a daily basis. And the thing that is very interesting is that you can predict the capacity of people to succeed on a specific role inside a certain culture, but you can also predict what you call the affinity, professional affinity, between two people. For example. It can be between one person and their future manager or between different members of the team, because we think that is the three basic question we have to ask ourselves when we hire somebody is can the person do that job within that team in the broader context of that company culture?

Chad: So in that vein, in many cases that doesn't lend itself to diversity, because you have a lot of the same types of people and the same types of teams. So what do you do to ensure that you're not creating more bias?

David Bernard: Yeah. The bias come when you, when you utilize the data that are not really related to future performance. For example, we all know about the Amazon case and everything, but the fact is that when you look at personality, the different factors are very well distributed across the population, regardless of age or gender or ethnicity, origins or things like that. So yeah. And every time we create a predictive model, you analyze your people, automatically we create a predictive model. And after we test it, the prediction model, against all our database to be sure that there are no bias. And if we identify, for example, one specific criteria as a teaser that could lead to a biased decisions, we get rid of that criteria. Sometimes it can lead us to have a bit less predictive model, but we are sure it's fair for everybody. So we took that decision.

Joel: In a world that's becoming more automated, there's less how people's behavior and who they are as a person. It's more about let's get the skills assessment, let's get what they are on terms of their resume. Whereas you guys go beyond the resume. So my question is, in a world that's getting more automated, do you guys get squeezed out of that future, or do you see yourself as part of the automated future of recruiting?

David Bernard: No, I think we will not get squeezed out of that, because what will remain when everything will be automated or almost everything, every task? The human factor. And we strongly believe that the way we can continue to create a real difference in the world we are going to live in is by reaffirming our humanity. There are some things that a robot can do, for example, to create a connection, a bond with somebody, to influence somebody, there are lots of things. And our role is to automate the maximum of task that we can automate and also to let the time for the recruiter for example, to spend more time, more quality time with their candidate, not just a formal discussion like that, but to spend more quality time with them, with less candidate, but more quality oriented.

Joel: And can you break down the pricing model of the product?

David Bernard: Yeah. It's based on the number of users you have so far as a user, a recruiter, basically, or someone who manage internal mobility, and it starts at 15,000 per year for three users. If you add the AI component, it's 10,000 more. So yeah, that's range of price. But we also have an offer you can buy directly online, starting at $430 per month with no engagement. And you can assess as many candidates as you want.

Chad: So in that assessment process, what is the process? Can it be a gamification model? Can it be taken by text? Can it be chat bot? Or is it just plain forms, the usual form?

David Bernard: To invite a candidate, you just enter the email address or you send them a link, they click on the link, they create a profile in 20 seconds approximately, and after that they enter a funnel, and they have the two first, they have different propositions, you just have to click on it. And for other one, the last one brain, concerning mental agility, it's more games and they can do it on a tablet, on a mobile, on their computer, whatever.

Chad: All right. David Bernard, everybody.

David Bernard: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Chad: Big applause!

Tristen: Hi. I'm Tristen. Thanks for listening to my stepdad, Chad, and his goofy friend Cheese. You've been listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. Make sure you subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss out on all the knowledge dropping that's happening up in here. They made me say that.

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