The hiring of new staff is one of those moments in a company’s development where one really wants to put the human-to-human interaction front and center.
Sometimes, however, the more administrative fuss invested in setting up an interview can detract from that more crucial meeting of the minds.
Digital assistant, Clara (by Clara Labs) takes care of all the pre-meeting details for you. By coordinating and scheduling phone, video, and face-to-face interviews, Clara spares you the admin and lets you focus on the true human act of looking for great compatibility and connection to grow your team.
Cc Clara and sit back
Clara belongs to the category of "invisible apps"—meaning you never actually have to open it to use it. It exists (not unlike an extension), inside your email, whether you use G Suite or Microsoft Office 365.
Clara’s background functionality is designed to serve you as you work, without interrupting your flow. The app is attuned to recognize when it is “mentioned” in an email, which then cues Clara to serve its scheduling support function.
How Clara works
Basically, it works like this: You’re in HR, or an independent recruiter, going through a stack of resumes. You pick out an applicant and send them an email letting them know you’d be interested in talking further.
In that email, you mention that you’ll be CC’ing Clara. Clara gets wind of the mention, proceeds to gather everyone’s information, and then sends out an email to all parties involved—the candidate and the interviewers—to offer time slot options.
Clara continues to coordinate between all parties and sends confirmations only once a time has been agreed to. The response time for Clara is no longer than a half an hour, though on average it’s around 15 minutes.
If it’s an IRL meet, Clara can take care of reserving meeting rooms. If it’s a video-conference, Clara makes sure everyone has the right link to log on.
The sequence effect
Clara can also handle “sequence interviews.” This is for when a candidate must meet with several interviewers in a row (say, for high-profile finalists who need to meet with department heads, HR and the big boss). You can set the duration for each interview, the preferred order, and Clara will handle the more complicated details of coordinating schedules.
Change it up
At any point, if someone needs to change their schedule, and says so in the email thread which includes Clara, then Clara can begin asking for new time slots and will re-confirm the updated meeting time.
Aside from living inside email, Clara updates meeting details in one’s Zoom or Google Meets calendar. Clara also syncs with Greenhouse and Lever, two major applicant tracking software platforms (ATS).
These integrations help make sure everyone—candidate and interviewer—have access to all the necessary details before going into the meeting.
Finally, Clara can provide useful insights and real-time reporting on the status of a hiring process. It shows you how many interviews are taking place at a given time, and how fast the booking process is going for each individual candidate.
More than machine
Clara might be an invisible app, but that doesn’t mean you interact using impersonal code-speak. Clara recognizes human communication styles, and is able to understand and compose emails in casual conversational tones.
It uses natural language processing to sound human, as well as machine learning to constantly improve its understanding of human ambiguity in written communications.
However, since the most difficult and important variable of Clara is the scheduling process, the team at Clara Labs have constructed their machine learning data to work with humans rather than replace them—a process known as human-in-the-loop.
While it would be too time-consuming to have a human worker check every scheduling thread, Clara Labs implements a semi-supervised machine learning model, determining which NLP predictions are most likely to need checking and then assigning the appropriate human-power.
By combining machine learning AI with human assistants, Clara Labs ensures the quality of its product and cuts down on wasted time due to technical misunderstandings, all the while improving its own capacity to understand.
A tale of two innovators
Clara launched out of tech Mecca, San Francisco back in February 2014.
The co-founders, Maran Nelson and Michael Akilian, have been besties since they were in the tenth grade. They’re both alumni of the University of Texas at Austin, renowned for its business, engineering and communications departments. Nelson, a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, studied psychology and neuroscience, while Akilian studied electrical engineering.
Nelson and Akilian’s education background is a showcase in itself of the right mix of science and technology along with considerations of how people think and feel—all necessary fields when focusing on expanding teams to remain competitive in today’s very human workforce.
For them, the idea of Clara was a way out of the “tyranny of the inbox.” While in university, Nelson decided enough was enough when it came to missed networking opportunities due to lengthy email chains and unreliable back-and-forth communications. So she partnered with her old friend and Clara was born.
Today, the digital assistant is backed by several big-name investors, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and banks some high-profile customers such as Sequoia Capital, Stripe, and Hipmunk.
In recent news—August 2019—Clara Labs has been acquired by TopFunnel, the recruitment platform used by hundreds of companies like Coinbase and Discord.
Now, TopFunnel can find and deliver applicants, while Clara can help automate the interview scheduling. That’s a pretty handy pairing.
For previous subscribers to either platform, here’s what’s good to know: TopFunnel users can add Clara as an option to their package. For those using Clara, nothing will change, though one assumes it’s that much easier for Clara users to take advantage of TopFunnel’s services.
The duo of Clara and TopFunnel make a good team not only in the concrete realm of actual hiring but also because of the loftier abstract values both companies share. As Justin Palmer, CEO of TopFunnel, says:
“When people and technology come together in a complementary way, we can create an experience that’s more than the sum of the parts.”
Hire for growth
Our economic system depends upon a level of healthy competition, and this is doubly true of the New Economy of information and communication technologies and other immaterial services.
Unlike the old industrial days, where property, machinery, and huge standing reserves of labor kept all but the biggest firms from having a chance at grabbing market share, entry into today’s playing field has been greatly expanded to allow for sprightly and upstarting newcomers of all sizes.
All that competition means one thing: growth. Firms must grow, and keep growing. And growth is inevitably reliant on new recruits, hiring, and job interviews.
To get the most out of each potential hire, it’s helpful to let an automated tool like Clara handle all the pre-meeting emails and admin. This way, you can focus on the quality of your search to expand your team and step confidently into the future.