DEEP DIVE – Abhijit Kashyape on first-of-its-kind digital video assessment platform for talent acquisition, Monjin


Monjin– MOnline Job Interview describes itself as India’s leading on-demand interview platform that uses digital and video assessment to let candidates showcase their skills and personality, and helps organizations find the right hire. To be fair, this is such a sharply focused offering in ever challenging and growing space of right-talent acquisition, that no other similarly scaled and HR Tech-intensive service offering  that matches what Monjin offers, comes to mind. For MediaBrief-DeepDivePavan R Chawla caught up with Abhijit Kashyape, Co-Founder & CEO – Monjin

The 2018 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report revealed that the adoption of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) is significantly growing. Fusing the power of the contemporary technology with the traditional HR practices will help create a sublime hiring experience. AI tools and technologies are empowering recruitment and talent acquisition efforts by culling through data and gathering insights about a potential candidate for designated roles.

We are aware how remarkably Artificial Intelligence is creating a disruption in the HR sector in India,  and to understand this and more, Pavan R Chawla caught up with Abhijit Kashyape, Co-Founder & CEO – Monjin.

To set up Monjin, Kashyape gave up a strong corporate career with Accenture and IBM, where he led talent demand supply, contracting and recruiting and was responsible for growth in India, the US and UK. Kashyape has also established a SAP start-up in the UK which was later acquired by a Fortune 500 enterprise.

As CEO at Monjin, Kashyape is responsible for driving all facets of the the futuristic talent acquisition corporation’s business through a mission to recognize the world’s leading professionals and create a skills standardization platform by democratising assessments.

Kashyape holds advanced capabilities and expertise in artificial intelligence as well as human resources. Having secured an engineering degree in computer science from Pune University, Abhijit also went on to acquire an MBA in Marketing, HR and Sales.

The strong and not-easily-ignored expert and salient service from Monjin that brings respite to corporations struggling with recruitment, is something that deserves a deep dive into its offerings, to make HR professionals aware of and understand its offerings. In this MediaBrief-DeepDive, Kashyape speaks at length about the Monjin offering, which is constructed on a bedrock of robust HR Tech and to offer intuitive salience thanks to its  tech-led system of indexing, rating and tagging of skills to match the requirements of recruiters.

Come, dive in.

Tell us about Monjin. From idea to entity, what’s the journey been like?

Monjin stands for My Online Job Interview. It has a database with structured video interviews and digital profiles. It has been assessed by a network of experts of respective domains in India and Overseas. Monjin started in 2015 is currently present in India, UK, USA and Europe.

Building of Technology: 2015 took 9 months. We started with IT/ ITES and expanding to retail, Finance, telecom, Banking, shopping and Hospitality.

Monjin is a next-gen, transformational platform for Talent Acquisition processes and outcomes. There is no other company globally which offers a combination of an interviewer’s network and ‘ready-to-view’ videos evaluated by experts along with the video interview platform.

Monjin is a first-of-its-kind, digital, video assessment platform based out of India, Malta and the US. We are called LinkedIn plus plus by our clients. The way it works is, an individual registers with us online. Based on the individual’s registered skill/ sub-skill, he or she would be interviewed by an expert  — one of our expert empanelled interviewers.

The interviewer-rated video is then available to enterprises, eliminating their need to source CVs, schedule interviews, find interviewers and take interviews. The client can then accept or reject the candidate, or further interview the candidate and roll out the offer.

The benefits are three-fold. For the enterprise, it reduces time — up to 70% — as also management bandwidth and cost (agency recruitment fee, recruitment team size) by almost 80%

For the candidate, his / her single video interview is broadcast to multiple hiring companies, at once. And for the interviewer, the benefit is in earning for each interview they take, while at the same time showcasing their expertise within their community while building a brand for themselves.

You must have had enormous faith in the Monjin idea, for you to have given up a leadership positing in a Top 3 entity in the sector, to found Monjin.  Has that confidence been borne out?

Monjin is a transformational platform, which has the potential to disrupt all the current recruitment models. So far, we have seen good client traction (75+) across multiple geographies. We have also been witnessing good traction with the investors and have raised more than $7 million. Transforming clients’ recruitment practices and talent value chains and making a transformational impact gives us an immense sense of satisfaction and achievement in a function where further impactful innovation is sorely required.

What are the services Monjin offers? Please answer in some detail.

There are four major Monjin offerings. Let me list and walk you through each.

We call the first, ‘Our Candidates Our Interviewers’or OCOI. This is the leanest and fastest interviewing process you could possibly have. A complete end-to-end solution where you just have to pick up already assessed candidates that fit your criteria. It gives you access to a huge repository of active candidates vetted by professional interviewers. You get thorough, and also skill-wise rating for easy comparison and short-listing. It helps speed up your process with better candidates reducing the risk of losing them.

The second is what we call Your Candidates Our Interviewers, or YCOI. It helps you as the client to utilize the expertise, domain knowledge and experience of Monjin’s empanelled experts to interview your candidates. This is a thorough and neutral professional assessment that helps your panel save tremendous time and hassle. You can have our candidates interviewed for new requirements beyond your area of expertise. For a specific JD, we help you with standard and uniform assessment. You have the facility of easy bulk-upload of candidate profiles, and there is auto matching and scheduling.

And what is the client wants you to help them set up a system to more efficiently interview their candidates through their own interviewers?

For that we have our third offering, which is  Your Candidates Your Interviewers or YCYI. With it, we design and automate your organization’s interviewing workflow on Monjin’s system. Monjin does the matching and scheduling. Unbound of time and location, the interviews are preceded, rated, recorded and shared with other stakeholders.

This is a lean, a faster process that ensures a smooth candidate experience and provides timely feedback.  It helps the client create impact with targeted post video message, and, of course, there’s a standard and uniform assessment against a specific JD.

And which is your fourth offering?

That’s the One-way Interviews for smarter screening and snap assessments. You can widen your geographies and speed up your initial screening process. Specific questions are designed, time limits are set, and candidates can be invited to take the interviews from their own premises. Candidates see pre-configured questions and record their responses on video, and each response is automatically shared with the concerned stake holder.

This saves logistics costs and expands your reach, enabling you to assess the basic critical skills and quickly and easily short-list good candidates from large volumes of applicants.

What is the kind of technology platform and back-end that Monjin uses?

Monjin is built on the Microsoft technology stack and is hosted on Microsoft Azure to supplement it’s computing and storage capabilities. Monjin leverages cutting edge technologies such as Microsoft Search, Azure Redis Cache, Cosmos DB and Azure Functions. Monjin API’s are RESTful and authenticated using OAUTH 2.0 protocol.

Anyone who steps into a market with a new setup must, it is believed, have something to offer that nobody else does. What was – and is — your biggest USP? Has that evolved over time?

There have been multiple video interviewing players in the market since when Monjin started, but Monjin has a unique USP- “Monjin Interviewers”.

Monjin also enjoys a self-aggregating, ever-growing global army of domain experts with even decades-long experience, and who are passionately associated with us as Interview panellists. Tapping this exclusive intellectual resource immediately uplifts an organization’s interviewing process for good.  Best part — these mid-to-senior level managers working in a different  organization, not only bring their own technical know-how, but are also trained to perform extensive evaluation and pick the right candidates.

These interviewers mentor and assess the budding professionals within their domains and get paid for each interview they take.

How does Monjin make the life of an HR-  and a business or vertical head better?

There are various factors that contribute to the overall hiring problems, like high logistic costs, geographical limitations, loss of valuable time, surface-level candidate assessment, and most importantly, lower hit rate.

Monjin’s keen focus is always on rendering the right technology to the experts’ panel and candidates through its platform. There is no assessment available today on any of the portals – Monjin creates a profession, it brings in to the world for the first time an ISO or a CMM on talent.

The HR and vertical head can save up to 70% on cost-per-hire and time-per-hire. Like when they are looking for candidates with specific skill-sets, Monjin’s dashboard analytics shares profiles available for each skill-set.  Sort candidates by skill, location, experience, rating, and more. Speed up the next-level process with the right candidate. It works as if multiple experienced vendors are working together for the client for each position, substantially reducing their man hours and time  spent.

HR Heads can customise their hiring. Every job is as unique as the person working on it. So, it doesn’t make sense to have common JDs. With Monjin, the HR head has the option of creating their own unique JD by entering a range of skills they’re looking for. This could be a creative expert with basic experience in WordPress plugins or a Data architect who’s proficient with Python.

HR heads can receive detailed candidate assessment: Each Monjin interview is backed by a thorough analysis of the candidate. This includes an Interview summary provided by the interviewer, their personal opinion of the candidate, the kind of questions that were asked, etcetera. HR heads will also find comparative ratings provided by the candidate on their skills versus ratings provided by the interviewer, and further details that provide a 360-degree analysis.

This is the same formula with which Monjin has helped organizations.

What is your view of the HR Tech industry today?

HR Tech is booming with fast-paced activities, and there are many niche players vying for customer attention. This makes HR Tech decisions extremely challenging and complex for HR leaders. Things get even more difficult when one needs to be absolutely sure that the one new piece of tech works with at least a dozen other pieces for it all to make sense.

In the years to come, the HR technology solutions landscape is likely to evolve further, and is ripe for consolidation. We can expect HR technology buyers to create innovative solutions working with their chosen solution providers. We can also expect solution providers to form alliances to stitch together unique solutions to solve customer business challenges.

In a nutshell, the days and years ahead signal for a lot of exciting action in the HR technology space.

What are the factors that augur well for the HR space in India, for growths in the career prospects?

India will add more than 200 million jobs till 2030. Monjin’s focus industries of information technology, hospitality, education, construction, retail, healthcare and financial services will see large worker additions. Though IT will see low growth, but the large base / attrition backfills will mean good volumes.

How have HR heads responded to the Monjin offerings?

More than 90 percent of the people spoken to are enthused about Monjin. The benefits are quite apparent. Monjin has good client traction, including many Fortune 500 and Tier 1 companies.

However, as Monjin advocates, we have to work to educate people to move to different pricing models than the current incumbents, many of which are success-based.

After you set up Monjin, what are the kind of clients you have worked with?

Monjin is a skill-, geography- and industry-agnostic model where the focus is only to deliver quality. This model has been working extremely well for us and we intend to use the learnings along with a strong digital marketing strategy to scale it up. We have over 57 happy clients associated with us, globally.

Monjin could make a great contribution to help and educate candidates crack interviews, because you study them closely across a robust and solid, tangible, face to face interview process. How does Monjin help candidates?

The Monjin platform allows the candidates to harness the power of digital interviewing to reach hiring companies faster, showcase themselves better while multiplying their efforts, which would never be otherwise possible with a paper resume.

By signing-up with Monjin, candidates can opt for a one-way video interview in their area of expertise. Once completed, the interview will be analysed by industry experts who serve on Monjin’s board of panellists. Following their interview, candidates receive a thorough report of their performance that covers many factors including body language, soft skills, technical expertise, and more.

Three-pronged benefits for Candidates: The benefits of signing-up with Monjin are three-pronged and go beyond creating a video-resume.

First, the candidates will have full ownership of their video-asset, which will be maintained and enlisted in Monjin’s talent pool, hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Second, the thorough feedback from industry veterans enables them to tweak their videos and to work on their weak points.

Third, the assessment of these video-profiles amplifies the candidates’ chances of being noticed, thus enabling better career prospects outside the university campus.

What are the three most important pieces of advice you would share with any candidate being interviewed by or through Monjin?

Be prepared, be confident, and make your one-minute video introduction with Monjin stand out from the crowd.

The use of AI in HR can be fraught with problems. What are the most common problems that AI in HR can suffer from. We saw Amazon reportedly, quietly shut down its AI Hiring tool because it was sexist and hired more men than women. How do you think that must have happened? Can the AI get more logical and ‘realize’ that ‘if 90% (our guesstimate number, not a fact) of hires are males, go ahead and develop yourself a predilection to select male candidates’? 

Yes we agree with the above.

With technology changing the way how business processes are running, the recruitment industry is currently undergoing a big transformation in the core on how to recruit correct people and retain good talent.

As technology continues to evolve, it plays an increasingly important role in the way companies approach talent search and the hiring process. Usage of various standalone products and automation of sub-processes: Tools and technologies to predict, analyse and predict outcomes (in terms of fit of candidates to an organisation) are being developed and experimented with. Multiple tools are being sought to predict and psychometrically analyse job seekers using AI and Machine learning.

However, most of the current AI tools fall far short of achieving the required outcomes.

100% of our clients, while using some of these AI tools, still have not forsaken the ‘interview’ by a live individual. Humans are good at specifying what’s needed for a position, eliciting information from candidates in a free-flowing format which needs deep probing of the candidate’s experience.

That’s where Monjin comes into the picture. Monjin has a team of industry veterans who serve as our interview panels. We’re talking about individuals who are experts in their fields with over 10 years of experience depending on the domain. As mid-to-senior level managers who still serve the industry, they possess the ‘current’ technical know-how to assess a candidate’s skills. They have an eye for high-performers. And given their experience with conducting interviews, they know the exact questions to ask and can take informed calls on assessing candidates on their work experience/ performance.

So AI tools can at most be a starting point. These need to be supplemented with expert interviewing of candidates.

Today, there are companies that provide a specialised service of tracking down the ‘skippers’ – those derelict professionals who jump notice periods and go on to another job without serving or paying for the notice period.  Does Monjin also use software and tech to do deep dives into candidates’ past iterations of CVs and resumes for inconsistencies?

In most of our models in most of our services, the client sources the candidates, so these activities are conducted by them. However, for our ‘database-as-a-service’ model (OCOI i.e. Our Candidates Our Interviewers), our expert interviewers will check this basis their experience.

How is Monjin doing at present?

With more than 75 clients globally and with good investment traction, we are expanding into different geographies and verticals to attract both Interviewers and candidates and getting their interviews done. 

One of your specific, stated objectives is that Monjin gets to a $4mn valuation by 2020… 

Monjin’s valuation is far higher and is a multiple of this number, but is currently confidential. However, our sales target for the coming financial year is between $2- $4 million.

Your thoughts, please