The Best Way to Communicate With Individual Candidates? Crystal Knows

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Crystal founder Drew D’Agostino discusses how technology can help recruiters tailor messages and build better connections with individual candidates:


Crystal founder Drew D’Agostino

“How do we raise the standard of professional communications above the canned messages people now expect?”

“How do we figure out people’s personalities so we can interact with them with empathy, build better relationships and be more productive?”

If you’re passionate about recruiting, these questions matter to you. They also happen to be the questions that drove Drew D’Agostino to develop Crystal, a new web app that claims to be “the biggest improvement to email since spell-check.”

What does Crystal do? It tells you the best way to communicate with an individual by scanning their online presence and building a unique personality profile. Features include real-time email suggestions, relationship predictions, and team analysis.

Sounds like it could be pretty useful in recruiting. Could Crystal change how you select potential candidates? Initiate conversations? Negotiate terms of employment? Build teams? Could it forebode a future where software replaces recruiters altogether?

Drew kindly agreed to a little Q&A …

“People are fundamentally different. Conflict happens when two people don’t understand those differences, and each person expects the other to think like themselves.”

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Why would someone in recruiting or HR want to use technology like this?

Recruiters are doing lots of talking with people they don’t know very well. So they see Crystal’s web communication tools as being really helpful for those situations: it definitely helps to have a better understanding of someone before you reach out to them. You have a better conversation.

Recruiters are also building teams. And if you can look up multiple people’s personalities, you can figure out how they’re going to work together as a team. That’s the bigger opportunity here, for HR or team managers, because ultimately an organization is just a living, breathing mass of people. And those relationships dictate the life of the organization. So if Crystal can help somebody put together stronger, healthier teams, then we have a tremendous opportunity.

Could it replace the recruiter? For example, might it eventually be able to assess a job candidate and send them a targeted pitch—all on its own?

I don’t think so. Who knows where we’ll be at in ten years, but Crystal is coming at communication from a completely different angle. We’re not trying to automate communication, because that goes against our fundamental philosophy. Our purpose is to make relationships healthier and more productive. And we do that by making communication healthier and more productive. So to me a computer software talking to a person is not nearly as healthy as a person talking to a person. If we can provide more information to that conversation to make it more effective, that’s the sweet spot. But the minute technology takes the place of a human in the conversation is the minute that they’re going to want to talk to a human anyway.

“… An organization is just a living, breathing mass of people. And those people’s relationships dictate the life of the organization.”

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How does a person’s public data translate into guidelines for how to communicate with that specific individual?

We’re aggregating information that people put online, and then we’re matching that to one of four personality types. When we make an assertion that somebody likes spreadsheets, it’s not because they’ve said somewhere that they like spreadsheets. We’re finding information in the style that they write and the words that they use that imply that they’re a specific personality type which correlates to liking spreadsheets. So there’s a lot of these probabilities and correlations that go into it.

Was there an ‘aha’ moment where you figured this would be a good thing to pursue?

For the last couple of years I’ve really been trying to communicate this way myself. Reading up on a lot of personality theory. A lot of it seemed really fluffy. But when you actually start using it in practice, especially in written communication, you realize this stuff is really powerful. People are fundamentally different. Conflict happens when two people don’t understand those differences, and each person expects the other to think like themselves. Really, I built the product to give myself a hand when communicating with people. Crystal has really automated the practice I’ve been trying to produce for the past couple of years.

Any tips or advice for recruiters on how they might test Crystal out?

Start using Crystal with skepticism. It will only be as valuable to you as the amount you trust it. The best way to start using it is to try it with people you know: your boss, your colleagues, your family and friends. Validate if the answers are right.

Once you have that confidence in it, that’s when you can start using it practically in real conversations. And the first place you can try it is in cold conversations. People you don’t know, and have never really met. Try it in a few emails and a few conversations on the phone and see: “Hey if I adjust my communication style in this email and then see how receptive they are to it, how quickly does it takes for them to seem to like me? Or to respond?”

Once you’ve done that you start to understand how this works on a deeper level and start to use it to help make important decisions, like how you might build teams that function well together.

“… If you can look up multiple people’s personalities, you can figure out how they’re going to work together as a team.”

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Request an invite to try Crystal.

From an interview with Christian De Pape.