CEO INTERVIEW : Talent Games - Bringing Science & Fun to the Art of Recruitment
New Success Stories - The Talent Games
Paul Keijzer, CEO and Shail Niazi, Managing Director
Please share with us briefly what you do.
Paul Keijzer is the CEO and Shail Niazi is the Managing Director of The Talent Games, a Singapore-based HR Tech company that pioneers in AI-driven gamified assessments. Our cutting-edge assessment technology combines gamification and artificial intelligence with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience to allow companies to engage top millennial talent at scale, resulting in better matches and improved employee performance.
More than just a video game, our gamified candidate assessments are scientifically proven to accurately evaluate each candidate’s personality, cognitive ability, aptitude and behavior, all while they play our recruitment game.
What were you doing before this?
Paul: Over the past 25 years, I have designed and delivered transformational interventions for 100+ blue-chip organizations in countries across Asia, Middle-East and Africa. I have been a part of Unilever for over 12 years as their VP Human Resources in China, Vietnam and then Pakistan. Engage Consulting is another venture of mine which I’m heading simultaneously along with The Talent Games. I have also been associated with RBL as a Principal consultant for over 7 years.
Shail: From spending a decade in the corporate world with some exciting companies to starting a smartwatch brand and another consulting firm and now The Talent Games. I have been constantly pushing my boundaries as I believe that our life is a product of our experiences and hence one should make conscious efforts to make these experiences count.
Describe your product. How does it work?
Paul & Shail: We provide customized pre-screening assessments that help organizations revolutionize their recruitment processes while transforming their candidate experience.
We also have our flagship product “C-Factor” that is a gamified assessment platform. C-Factor is a game-engine where multiple organizations can set up their recruitment campaigns and assess unlimited candidates while building an employer brand that millennials attract to.
Companies make candidates take our gamified assessments which assess their cognitive abilities, behavioral skills, aptitude, and personality. Once the candidates are done with the assessment, they are then provided with constructive feedback and some development suggestions.
Using our gamified assessments, companies tend to screen large candidates pools, while making the whole process much faster, cheaper and more effective as compared to the conventional recruitment methods. Using the power of AI with gamification, we make candidate screening free of bias. This ensures that companies can hire only – the top millennial talent.
What are the key benefits?
Shail: At The Talent Games, we offer gamified recruitment solutions that not only help organizations to identify and shortlist the best talent from a much larger pool of applicants but also engage candidates better while making up for a delightful candidate experience.
Who are your closest competitors?
Paul: Some of our closest competitors are:
Pymertics, Hirevue, Arctic Shores, Revelian and Aon
But none of them offers real-life work scenarios that holistically cover all areas of assessment such as personality, aptitude, cognitive ability, and behavior.
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Paul: Local manufacturing company who had the title of being the “Top Employer” for many years but found their recruitment process a bit too conventional because of which they were facing trouble in attracting the best millennial talent.
We helped them transform their processes from conventional recruitment to a much more engaging and effective AI-based recruitment process which is free of bias. They leveraged our customized recruitment game to bring innovation in their recruitment process and select the right fit for their organization.
What motivated you to start this business?
Shail: For me, it's about pushing my own boundaries to see where it takes me. When we started “The Talent Games”, the main motivation was to experiment with emerging technologies and improve the mundane HR processes.
We started with a few ideas and along the way, gamified recruitment got the most amount of traction and that's when we thought, "Hey wait a second, we might actually be onto something here”.
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Paul: Love every minute of it.
How did you get funded?
Paul: Self-funded so far. We are looking for investors that can help us grow in our journey to transform the recruitment processes for organizations across the industry.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Paul: We tend to leverage Inbound Marketing, Personal Relations (Word of Mouth), Influencer Marketing, and other means to promote our product/services.
With all these marketing tactics, we rely more on our product since it precedes its own reputation and hence – sells itself.
Describe a typical workday
Shail: Other than the fact that it starts really early, there's nothing typical about my workday. Paul and I have our first discussion of the day around 6:30 and from there onwards starts an action-packed ride that lasts the whole day - sometimes well into the night also. And the best part is that I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a time where people set to strike a work-life balance, I am a firm believer in work-life integration. I believe that it enables me to balance my responsibilities towards work as well as my family.
Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
Shail: I would say that my co-founder Paul Keijzer is someone I really admire. I am convinced that it is our chemistry together that has enabled us to achieve considerable success in a short span of time and I consider my self lucky to have had the opportunity to work along with someone who complements my energy so much.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
Paul: I would say that I felt the proudest when people with amazing fast track careers in huge multinational organizations quit working for those companies to join The Talent Games. They showed faith in our vision and brought in great value with them.
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
Paul: Probably how with time we realized that we should have invested as much time in finding good investors as we did in looking for clients.
If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
Paul: Enjoy the ride!
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Paul: I can’t live without these two:
Weekly reflections and My to-do-list
More about Paul and Shail:
First job: Unilever (Paul) | Call center agent, I was just 16 (Shail)
Someone you admire: Neil Armstrong (Paul) | My Wife (Shail)
Favorite book: Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari (Paul) | Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R Martin (Shail)
Favorite Film: Deer Hunter (Paul) | Too many to name (Shail)
Favorite Music: U2 (Paul) | House & Techno (Shail)
Favorite author: Simon Sinek (Paul) | Anne Rice, P.G. Wodehouse (Shail)
Favorite Gadget: Airpods (Paul) | All of them & I want more (Shail)
Last holiday: Castros, Spain (Paul) | What’s that? (Shail)
When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you? :
With my kids (Paul) | Home with my family (Shail)
1Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?