Traitify raises $12 million to assess job candidates’ personalities with AI


Traitify’s (previously Woofound), which taps AI and machine learning to perform job candidate assessments, today announced it raised $12 million. The bulk of the funds will be put toward product R&D, the company says,

Personality assessments often inform hiring decisions — according to a Human Resource Management survey, 22% of corporate respondents require would-be employees to complete them. The motivations are obvious — workers who identify with a workplace culture tend to be happier, experience greater job satisfaction, and stick around longer. But not all tests are created equal. Some, like word association tests, measure a person’s state as opposed to enduring traits, which can change depending on mood and environment.

Traitify purports to provide a superior solution in its visual tests, which serve up pairs of images and questions that collect hundreds of data points in 90 seconds. They’re designed to be delivered via email, social media, or a website and taken on a smartphone, and they personalize to swarms of candidates with customized fit scores.

It’s something of a pivot for the company, which initially developed a product to help guide college students to courses and clubs relevant to their career interests. It also built a movie recommender internally and considered launching an app in the social space, but after working with local governments to connect the unemployed with jobs, it decided to rebrand and pursue staffing and recruitment use cases.

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Using Traitify’s platform tools, customers can focus on traits supposedly without socioeconomic bias like education level, language, and device access. The machine learning algorithm that underpins the testing combines performance with personality data, prioritizing applicants who match top performances and adapting matching with new batches of data.

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Why images? Traitify says they enable test-takers not only to answer quickly, but more honestly — its tests have a 95% completion rate and ostensibly avoid the Hawthorne Effect, which is when test-takers answer questions the way they “think” they should answer them. The startup also asserts that images are accessible for imperfect readers and that they largely eliminate the need for language translation.

They’re lofty claims to be sure, but Traitify says it runs dozens of studies with thousands of participants to validate the stability of its tests, which build off of the Holland’s interest inventory, a model for categorizing and understanding people’s interests within the “big five” personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism). The company has also compared its tests’ precisions with career interest inventories like BFI and IPIP-NEO, finding that their validity for “big five” traits ranges from 0.52 to 0.75, which is comparable to other questionnaires.

Traitify’s platform extends beyond talent acquisition into recruitment marketing and employment branding. It’s able to give candidates personality insights before they apply to opportunities and use trait and career interest data to personalize their experiences. For example, Traitify offers a recommendation engine that maps traits to jobs and drives various applications. And on the onboarding side, the platform provides new hires suggestions for growth while allowing managers to build project teams based on those hires’ traits.

Traitify says that with its tests, brands like Coles Supermarkets, McDonald’s Canada, Coca Cola, Marco’s Pizza, and over 200 others have doubled their respective talent networks year-over-year and cut cost per apply in half on average. “In the current business climate, HR teams are receiving an influx of applications, requiring them to sort through hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants, and sometimes causing systems to crash. This leads to stress for both the organization and the candidate,” said CEO Dan Sines. “Traitify is helping teams navigate through this influx and providing them with necessary data at scale to find the best candidate for their needs.”

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Traitify’s competitors include Plum, which has job candidates fill out problem-solving and personality tests that award points for “talents” like adaptation, communication, embracing diversity, and innovation. Another rival, Vervoe, offers AI tools that test would-be employees on-the-job skills with a mix of general assessments, coding challenges, and personality quizzes that recruiters can swap out and customize as needed.

Baltimore-based Traitify, which was founded in 2011 by Sines and Joshua Spears, has raised over $20 million to date. JMI Holdings led this latest round (a series B), which follows a $1.3 million venture round in August 2015 and a $4 million series A in July 2014.

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