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Q&A: American Express banks on mobile to recruit top-notch digital talent

American Express is working diligently to offer a slew of mobile features for anyone applying for an open position, including the ability to refer a friend via LinkedIn, to conduct an interview with prewritten questions on mobile and the use of gamification modules for some interviews.

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, an American Express executive discussed the growing role of mobile in human resources duties, highlighting how the convenience of conducting interviews digitally and applying for positions on smartphones can augment the experience for hiring leaders and candidates alike.

As on-the-go consumers look for pockets of time to dedicate to the job search and application process, more companies are likely to tap mobile?s offerings to provide a quicker experience. 

Below, Oriana Vogel, vice president of global recruitment and HR operations at American Express, discusses the company?s efforts to fulfill both candidates? and hiring leaders? demands for a seamless recruitment process on mobile.

How does American Express use mobile to begin the recruiting process?
We have tried to approach recruiting differently, in a way that attracts digital talent. When we target candidates, we want to signal to them that the way we interact during the process is on digital and mobile.

Our career site receives 10 million unique visitors every year, and from that we gain about 1.2 million applicants. At every point in the life cycle, we reach out to the candidate in a digital and mobile way. There is the ability to apply on the career site right when you see the listing.

How does American Express leverage mobile for conducting interviews?
It?s similar to Skype or FaceTiming. We?ve seen really amazing feedback both from candidates and interviewers.

It can be done on-demand. If you?re a candidate, the interviewer can send four or five preprogrammed questions. You can tape your responses and send them in.

For hiring leaders, it?s fantastic because once they receive a video, they can pass it around to the rest of the team.

Another way we use that tool is for coding. We?re hiring thousands of software developers. We can watch the whiteboard while hiring managers give problems and candidates talk through the code as it?s being done.

What are some of the benefits of applying via a smartphone or tablet device?
From a recruitment perspective, the assumption from candidates is that [mobile applications] are there. ?We want the people that have the right technological skills for us.

[Other benefits include] the ability to swipe in information from LinkedIn and prepopulate information. It cuts down on the number of repeats. We are aiming to make the application process as frictionless as possible.

Can you offer more insight on the social media referral product that candidates can use?
When you?re on a mobile device, you can either read the description and apply, or hit a button to get referred. That drives you to your own LinkedIn network and it will pull anyone in your network?s information who works at AmEx.

You receive a prepopulated text which you can modify, and the resume and referral goes to the recruiting team. We see candidate behavior adopting to that, with several thousand referrals coming in that way.

What role does gamification play in the process?
My biggest question as a leader is how we get the right talent. Historically, recruiters have relied on testing or competency-based interviews.

We are experimenting everywhere we can, and gamification is a great example of this. We have everyone applying for our service centers play a game, and the outcome predicts how candidates may respond in this environment.

It shows where a candidate scores highly and poorly. We?re able to go back and back-test how that game tests with current service center employees. If candidates play the game how top performers play the game, it?s a good indication.

We?re still in pilot mode. I?m enthusiastic about the ability to get our arms around some data. Senior hiring leaders love the idea of doing this, but don?t want to lose the human touchpoint. This is only one part of the interview funnel that helps us select candidates.

What tips would you offer a candidate preparing for an interview on mobile?
Really feel free to be yourself. We want to find a fit and we want you to be authentic. You don?t need to be stilted or extra formal just because you?re on camera.

Don?t be intimidated that the camera is on you; we really strive to make it a conversation and make it a real experience.  Also, if there is an open role and you want to push it into your network, you can do that through your mobile device.

Which mobile offerings have resonated most positively with candidates and employees?
We survey all hiring leaders and all candidates who receive an offer, as well as those who did not get an offer. We have real advocates of the interview technology. With mobile apply, what?s interesting is that people don?t call it out because they assume it is a capability that exists. The reality is that building that capability within a Fortune 500 company is really difficult.

Our career site is also responsively designed. The goal is to have as few clicks as possible for a candidate and deliver content when it?s relevant to them.

What role will mobile play in the future of human resources?
I think it is the future. Across all human resources, when candidates join us, the first question is ?Where is the app for that??

Even for choosing a benefits package, they expect that to be on mobile. Any type of HR transaction I expect will be moved onto mobile in the near future.

Do you have any other mobile features you are able to discuss?
We?re looking at job descriptions. With a company like AmEx with 50,000 employees, we have lots of descriptions, and hiring leaders do not always write descriptions in the best way.

They forget that it is marketing. The job descriptions need to be crisp and innovative. We are working on developing a product that catalogs and streamlines available descriptions.

We?ll have them prewritten for hiring leaders, which will eventually be available to them on mobile so they can post it whenever they would like.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York