Tinder for HR: swipe yourself a job

Source: Management Team (17/03/2018)

Ordering food or a taxi, or finding a date – they're all possible with an app. So how about applying for a job? Steve Muylle, Professor of Marketing & Digital Strategy at Vlerick Business School in Ghent, joined forces with the temping agency Accent Jobs to develop a vacancy app.

How can we use digital technologies to match candidates with jobs? This is what the Belgian temping agency Accent Jobs found itself wondering quite a few years ago. They turned to Vlerick Business School, where they were able to give free rein to their creativity. ‘In a kind of hackathon, we worked with them and our students to come up with the idea for the app and created an initial and rather minimal version,’ says Steve Muylle. The underlying thought was that finding a job should be just as easy as getting a ride on Uber. The dating app Tinder also served as inspiration because of its handy interface.


The finished app, Swop a job, indeed borrows from both sources. You enter your name, telephone number and email address or upload your details via LinkedIn. For the profile photo, it's enough to take a quick selfie and then you can start looking for suitable vacancies. You can also introduce yourself in a video. Like Tinder, you swipe left if you don't like the look of something and swipe right if you are interested.

‘The app uses geolocation,’ explains Muylle, ‘so you can find jobs which are near you, just like Uber. If you swipe right on a job, you will be shown the nearest office. You will be contacted within 24 hours, and preferably even sooner.’ If you wish, you can also get in touch yourself.

Muylle feels that it's high time for a different approach to recruitment. ‘The conventional approach to recruitment and selection is hugely time-consuming and isn't always effective.’ He sums it up as follows: ‘The candidate needs to put together a CV, write an appropriate covering letter for each application and then wait for a response. This app, Swop a job, turns the process completely on its head. It removes the barriers, speeds things up and makes job applications much more appealing. Not to mention effective,’ he says. After ten months of development, Accent Jobs saw three times more matches with candidates than via the conventional route.

The app naturally works well with temporary staff because of the nature of the work and the recruitment method. ‘However, there is certainly no need to limit the principle to part-time workers. The underlying thought ties in very well with the modern age and the digital natives we are increasingly seeing on the labour market.’

According to Muylle, Swop a job is also an interesting model to take to employers who are looking for a more appealing way to attract talents, for example with a private label version. The app does not yet work the other way round, i.e. employers cannot Tinder their candidates. But it could be a good idea, thinks Muylle.

‘Accent Jobs has the data which comes in via the app. They can use this to develop prediction models which help employers to draw up vacancies that attract candidates,’ says Muylle.


Muylle feels there are not yet many apps like Swop a job, although HR departments are already adopting a more digital approach these days. For example, Unilever has completely overhauled its recruitment methods. These days, candidates are mainly assessed by means of games: special ‘neuroscientific games’ which collect objective behavioural data for the candidates. A recruiter only gets involved later in the process.

The reactions of companies and interviewees to the idea of algorithm-based recruitment and selection vary greatly: ‘Not everyone feels it is a good thing, even though everyone knows that this kind of recruitment is more honest as it leaves no room for prejudices.’

Another example which Muylle gives is HireVue, software which candidates can use to record a video in which they say why they want the job and are suitable for the position in question. ‘Once the video has been uploaded, it is analysed by an algorithm which also determines whether or not the candidate will go through to the next round.’

Not hungry

La Trobe University has developed an even more radical form of video interviewing: candidates are interviewed by Matilda, a 30-cm robot with a friendly face. ‘Matilda puts the candidate at ease, continuously analyses his or her facial expressions and conducts each job interview in an entirely consistent way. She doesn't get hungry at 12.30 and never loses her focus,’ says Muylle, whereas studies have shown that this is the case with human recruiters.

Muylle: ‘The role of HR is changing completely as a result. In digital recruitment, HR no longer plays a recruiting role. After all, this takes place digitally. The person who ultimately ends up sitting opposite them is already the ideal candidate to whom HR should be selling the job.’

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