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Edify Collabs: Great Minds Think Alike IV: An Interview with Darrian Mikell of Qualifi

Austin Epon

Automations in onboarding software engineers and recruiting are helping hiring teams streamline the onerous process of making every new hire a productive team member, fast. 

Qualifi is changing the way high-volume recruiters screen their candidates. Their platform gives recruiters a week's worth of time back while maintaining a human touch for candidates. Interviews with Qualifi happen within minutes by eliminating scheduling and coordination efforts that slow down a recruiter’s process. Earlier this year, Edify had the chance to get to know more about how Qualifi makes recruitment and phone interviews better for busy recruiters.

Quick background about you and Qualifi:

Hi, I am Darrian Mikell. Me and most of my team are in the Indianapolis area, but we work remotely. Our company is Qualifi (read as qualify), an interviewing platform that helps recruiters and mainly high volume recruiters streamline their phone interviews. A lot of people don't realize that phone interviews are the biggest bottleneck in the whole recruiting process, so we've developed a platform that helps them make it convenient for their candidates, and make their lives a lot easier as well. 

I've been at it for a couple of years now, and like Edify, completed Techstars earlier this year and we’re now off to the races. It's been quite a journey so far and I'm looking forward to knowing what we have next!

Why did you start Qualifi? What was the impetus for solving this particular problem?

It started from a pain point that me and my brother (who was also my original co-founder at Qualifi) experienced back then. I never held the title of ‘recruiter’ but held the responsibility from my last job in an early-stage startup. We bootstrapped and grew fast, and I was even awarded employee number one. My role focused mainly on internal operations which included my background on the finances side, as well as HR and recruiting that was new to me. 

Just having a lot of different responsibilities led to me thinking of ways to make myself more efficient in a lot of phone interviews that are adding up (which generally should be quick get-to-know conversations). So I thought we need to figure out a way to solve it. 

My brother had the same experience in a different industry, so it resonated with both of us - ideas and conversations became sketches, sketches turned into finding people to help us build something. And now we've built a pretty cool platform that's used by recruiters today.

You mentioned high volume recruiters (I would guess people hiring in sales and call centers), is that your customer set?

Yes, that's one aspect as we're still early and learning more. We've also found solid traction in the healthcare space and others where there’s a lot of hourly roles prone to turnover. That combination of high turnover and high volume recruiting leads to this problem where recruiters are constantly recruiting for similar positions. getting tons of resumes for applications as the result of company growth or just the nature of jobs turning over at a predictable rate.

It's difficult for them to make good decisions based on paperwork alone. So they do these phone interviews to go beyond the resume. But at the same time, it gets worse when the numbers start to add up.

How should one be doing a phone screen? How does Qualifi help with that onerous process?

Even if you're not a recruiter, it's a big challenge to bring people into the team at every single stage of the process where there’s a need to create a consistent way to evaluate candidates. 

Having a standard, or set of questions (which are embedded into our product) can make sure every candidate is going to get the same experience, with recruiters able to compare candidate to candidate based on the same sort of baseline in that interview. I think this is one way to make recruitment a fair process while helping the recruiter review and compare candidate to candidate.

Live conversations can sometimes go down different paths and it can make it really difficult for you to make a clear judgment call based on the number of different conversations you had.

What have you learned from your customers over time? What's something you wish your customers knew about phone screens or doing interviews in general?

The first things that come to mind - navigating and learning, where the pain point resides the most. When we first got started, we had a tougher time finding people. Across the board, it's pretty new for most of the recruiters that we talked to, like a process change in their organization. We tried to go after people that looked more like my persona when I had the problem (which is common). 

Our customers have helped us make solid tweaks to our product and make it more usable and a lot more powerful for them along the way. What I wished my customers knew? They can free up their time to be more productive on important things on their lists that they haven't been able to get to yet. Our existing customers have already experienced the freedom they can have in their schedules and being able to add more value to their organizations in different ways beyond just being on the phone all day.

Being Edify is in the engineering onboarding and developer enablement space, we are curious if you've ever used Qualifi for engineering?

Yes! We have used our product in hiring a junior developer. Different organizations will look different, different roles will look different. Sometimes there are cases where you don't get a lot of inbound applications and that's where we fit best. We're continuing to look at different ways to adapt it to different recruiting styles of different roles.

Tell us what’s in store!

We have a lot of exciting features coming! We are making our product usable for larger organizations, and continuing to go down the enterprise path. I'm excited for the grander vision coming to play.

Growing companies need to constantly innovate to keep up with a competitive talent market. Tools such as Qualifi and Edify help hire and retain talent, significantly increasing time-to-productivity and lowering overall costs of adding new team members.

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