Written by Andrew Seale

The unconscious cognitive biases that affect how we interpret people and situations have been a trendy topic as of late, and the world of hiring is an apt test-bed. It’s plausible to think that employers are missing out on potential superstar candidates through snap judgement and unconscious decision-making.

But Toronto’s Nugget is aiming to change that.

The startup has designed what it calls a fairer assessment tool to streamline the recruitment process using artificial intelligence.“We wanted to provide a platform for universities and employers to assess students and candidates through bite-sized learning opportunities,” explains Mariam Walaa, who co-founded the platform alongside Ali El-Shayeb, while both undergrads at the Schulich School of Business.

With Nugget, employers or recruiters looking to hire for a role create an assessment campaign – like a job posting but with a specific challenge or problem to solve.

“It could be as simple as a project coordinator role, delegating tasks to the team based on their skill set,” she says. The candidate then explains how they’d tackle the particular challenge and based on their performance in the simulation, Nugget assesses their cognitive ability.

“We’re able to pick up different bite-sized content pieces that the employer would actually be inputting at this stage of onboarding,” says Walaa. “And those nuggets are opportunities for the candidate to learn about their role in the company and actually be able to perform tasks.”

She likens it to a digital escape room.

“We're testing candidates,” she says. “We're putting them in this small scenario and seeing how they behave based on the unexpected obstacles we're throwing at them.”

Walaa says the goal of Nugget isn’t to replace the recruitment process altogether but to streamline the process after they have the initial screening. “Where they have their qualifications down, the right experience, the right education, and now they want to go from 250 candidates to 75 who can actually perform in the job based on three to five must-have skills they’re assessing for in the game.”

The startup, which won $1,000 and the “Taking Off” category at Schulich Startup Night in April, was built within the university’s LaunchYU AccelerateUP program. Through the event, they met the team at TD, which was interested in running a pilot with Nugget. The startup was also a part of New York University Steinhardt’s Edtech accelerator, and the Next 36 in Toronto.

“We've been exposed to the market in New York and Vancouver and there's a lot of excitement there… things happening in the space, especially within the talent management and acquisition sphere,” says Walaa. “(But) this a very unique type of product that we're trying to build and none of our competitors exist in Canada”

With access to some of North America’s top talent in AI and key relationships built through their affiliations with York, Nugget has set its sight on growing in Toronto. “We definitely want to build the product and that community here.”

Photos by Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)