Exclusive Interview with Sujatha Kumaraswamy, CEO of MeritTrac Services



AI-enabled systems are becoming increasingly significant in the recruitment and hiring procedures of businesses. For businesses to gain the benefits of technological advancements, they must have the right talent. As a result, recruiters are using automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools for hiring operations now more than ever to keep up with the requirements. Established in 2000, MeritTrac is India’s leading pure-play Testing & Assessment provider that offers assessment services and examination management services to corporate organizations, educational institutes, and government agencies. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Sujatha Kumaraswamy, CEO of MeritTrac Services.

AI-enabled systems are becoming increasingly significant in the recruitment and hiring procedures of businesses. For businesses to gain the benefits of technological advancements, they must have the right talent. As a result, recruiters are using automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools for hiring operations now more than ever to keep up with the requirements. Artificial intelligence has emerged in a lot of recent dialogues with business leaders about their technology plans for the coming year in the HR and recruiting space. It is safe to assume that AI has a wide range of expectations. While many people are drawn to AI, a growing number of business leaders are interested in how AI-powered capabilities improve the efficiency and outcomes of their hiring operations. As recruiters prepare for a candidate’s market in 2022, here are a few emerging AI hiring trends:

i) AI-based hiring will make breakthroughs in objectively pre-screening candidates and shortlisting the top candidates for the job. It is also convenient for HR professionals to proctor a candidate’s activity and calculate competency and trust scores remotely. As systems become more advanced, this will continue to be an emerging field.

ii) Businesses will also leverage AI to mitigate prejudice and increase diversity and inclusion. To improve candidate engagement and fully utilise the power of AI, they will direct their attention to developing more ethical AI. HR departments will determine the need for various evaluations. They will consciously remove redundant practices and questions. Questions with the most relevance will be given more weightage. AI will also facilitate assessment-based interventions by detecting people’s strengths, limitations, and learning preferences. This, in turn, will help businesses to plan their hiring processes more efficiently and fine-tune talent, while minimising the impact of bias and human error.

iii) Recruiting through AI will help minimise biases by using machine learning algorithms and insights to make decisions, resulting in a more objective and fair hiring process. AI-based recruiting is making progress toward objective pre-screening of candidates that eliminates similarity and confirmation bias. AI can also be applied at different levels during interventions, determine the most effective learning medium for a person, and suggest learning modules that ensure optimum retention.

iv) Recruiters can now receive extensive insights on the company’s growth objectives and hiring needs with AI-assisted technologies. This will allow them to determine the skills and expertise needed from candidates to boost revenue. Organisations can also discover more about other firms’ private hiring and growth plans and broader industry trends using massive data sets – many of which are free and publicly accessible. This data can then be used to start recruiting projects to find the ideal individual in a timely and competitive manner.

v) AI-powered systems generate data for the recruitment process as well as internal HR operations. Objectivity goes a long way when it comes to making decisions for hiring. Businesses can now count on algorithm-based forecasts to reduce bias and produce more consistent results. Harnessing automation will benefit organisations in determining the right talent and cross-functional movement on a holistic level.

To stay current, attract, and retain top candidates, HR teams must incorporate new technologies for HR operations and applications. Decisions should be taken to determine what will best benefit the organisation and its employees. To keep the process humanised, we must be vigilant to maintain the personal touch in whatever form is available. It will be a win-win situation for both the HR department and the people as long as the results are realised.

2) Where do you see MeritTrac in the future? What does your technology and business roadmap look like for the rest of the year?

Learners and institutions have adopted a flexible learning path as a result of rapid technological advances, internet penetration, and increased demand for a skill-based workforce. It’s gone from being a “good to have” option for educational institutions and corporations to becoming mission-critical. By 2024, India’s online education market is expected to grow sevenfold in just five years. For educators, this is a USD 5 billion potential.

MeritTrac’s current focus is to achieve the large growth and transformation goals for MeritTrac over the next 3 to 5 years. Recently, we have introduced the next generation digital assessment revolution through TalentNext. TalentNext is a unified modular assessment ecosystem that combines the power of extensive content and a futuristic platform, set to redefine end-to-end recruitment intelligence and campus onboarding. We are very excited for the world to see, experience, and benefit from this new product.

3) The industry is seeing a rising importance of business and technology enablers like virtualisation and AI. How do you see these emerging technologies impact your business sector?

The goal is to mimic the in-person hiring experience in an online setting while also upgrading tools and assessment processes to ensure that the best candidates are hired. Remote hiring has necessitated the use of technology due to the nature of the tools and platforms employed, which is one of the best ways to decrease hiring stereotypes. As HR functions move online, we must track and analyse competencies and candidate-to-role matches with the utmost accuracy. AI-enabled technology has allowed for this advancement in assessment. On the assessment-backed learning front, it can identify an individual’s most effective learning medium and ensure that learning modules are altered in such a way that the student retains the most knowledge. Internal tests may become totally adaptive based on applicant capabilities as technology progresses, with explicit recommendations on growth areas, ensuring that candidates graduate with holistic skills that are linked and relevant to the business. AI-assisted HR boosts employee satisfaction while also saving time and money. It communicates with employees in the same way that seasoned HR professionals do, and it gives them access to trustworthy data before they make any strategic decision.

4) What are some of the challenges faced by the HR industry today?

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the talent acquisition business are currently being felt by professionals. Several sectors were displaced and decimated due to the global health crisis, forcing many to either burn out or innovate in order to adapt. The recruitment sector is one of the few that has embraced modern technology to improve hiring processes and overall functioning. However, there are still obstacles to overcome in order to make this transfer as smooth as possible. As the number of applications increases, the demand for greater resources arises, which can be met by improving the efficiency of individual departments. Recruiters and employers are under tremendous pressure to respond promptly to the new virtual system’s issues. Companies are increasingly concerned with documenting and processing on a wide scale as well as manually filtering quality applicants. In addition to these challenges, organising an efficient and well-structured recruitment procedure in today’s environment is more difficult. Not to mention platform flaws like a lack of centralised visibility and cross-departmental collaboration when it comes to handling evaluation processes. All of these issues must be handled by using unbiased technology solutions.

5) How has the adoption of end-to-end assessment solutions in India evolved over the last few years?

An end-to-end assessment solution is a “full cycle” solution, that caters to a multi-stage recruiting process in which the best candidate is chosen based on their talents, attributes, and other pertinent characteristics that are most suitable and compatible for the role. There are six stages to an end-to-end assessment:

1. Preparing

2. Sourcing

3. Screening

4. Selecting

5. Hiring

6. Onboarding

Though the concept of end-to-end assessment has been existing for years, its adoption has seen significant growth following the pandemic. Since every other organisation is sailing smoothly and rapidly on the competitive currents of the ever-evolving digital landscape, the end-to-end recruitment process is now inevitable for companies across sectors. The growing demand for hiring activities as well as greater candidate expectations has necessitated the development of an end-to-end recruitment strategy. The assessment industry expects further demands for a sophisticated end-to-end recruitment platform to cope with the transforming business scenario.

6) Do you also feel that the right kind of talent is a challenge in the industry?

Yes, it is a challenge with sundry solutions. An effective recruitment and selection strategy determines the quality of employees hired. For firms, recruitment and selection are primary human resource activities. Recruiting the proper type of people is critical for organisational fit, and it continues to be a significant barrier for employers seeking to attain guaranteed success in their business operations. The importance of hiring the right candidates for the job is critical for a organisational turnover, company culture, production, and profit. The enormous demand for and short supply of trained workers required in these tech-enabled, knowledge-intensive businesses poses a hiring dilemma. As employed workers are less inclined to retrain, reskill, or change industries, the talent shortage difficulties are worsened in countries with low unemployment rates. Organisations that wish to flourish and close the talent gap must adapt to the changing landscape. Younger generations not only expect more from their employers, but they are also likely to abandon if these expectations aren’t met. Therefore, talent aquisition and development strategies need to be cautious to maintain a personal touch in whatever form possible to ensure that the process remains humanised.

7)  Why do you think End-to-End assessment as a feature is a need and not a choice gave the evolving digital transformation in the industry? Will it change the recruitment game in the coming years?     

End-to-end recruitment is now a must for businesses of all sizes as they navigate the competitive currents of the ever-evolving digital world. Increased demand for hiring operations, as well as higher candidate expectations, necessitated the formation of an end-to-end recruitment strategy. Building a good workforce and improving recruitment processes are no longer optional in today’s competitive environment. The goal of an end-to-end recruitment process is to hire people who will add value to the company in the future. Participating in the next-generation digital assessment revolution will help firms grow by speeding decision-making processes and supporting the formation of new businesses.

8) Do we need an All-in-One assessment platform to address the big picture – HR challenges and to bring together the fragmented pieces of the hiring system?

A comprehensive All-in-One assessment platform that brings together the scattered pieces involved in the hiring process has been absent so far. Thus, captivating in a next-generation technology-led end-to-end assessment revolution will allow organisations to develop a rigid workforce, improve the quality of decision-making processes, and play a crucial role in the formation of new businesses or ideas. The approach that end-to-end assessments hold is futuristic and can be used to optimise the talent pool and boost hiring processes to maintain success.

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