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Interview published on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Liz Van Zyl from SmartAI

What is your main idea?

We saw that there were three (3) key overarching use cases that the recruitment industry needed to resolve, so we set out to develop a platform to specifically address these.  

The problems we identified were; 

  1. How to engage with applicants ensuring that everyone is heard whilst relieving the recruiter of all the ‘heavy lifting’ during the screening and shortlisting process. 
  2. How to reach out to your passive database at scale ensuring that it becomes a functioning part of your candidate sourcing rather than a graveyard of past contacts. 
  3. How do we provide a highly personalised support service to a working contractor database which is available when needed and not just when it’s convenient for the agency? 

Each of these three problems highlights the same issue – how can an agency engage candidates at scale in a manner that is embraced by the candidates, and then perform a series of time consuming tasks whilst still providing a personalised interaction, all with limited resources? 

smartAI’s platform assists in resolving all three problems. The platform’s primary function is to augment the services provided by the recruitment agency by improving the scope, scale, and reliability of the agency’s services.    

To resolve these issues three key modules were created; 

‘Engage’ – which assists during the recruitment process by engaging candidates, asking a series of relevant questions (via chat) and determining which candidates should be shortlisted based on the criteria provided. The chatbot then coordinates interviews with the recruiters.  

‘ReConnect’ – which provides an outreach service, contacting candidates (via chat) within the database refreshing their profiles and providing them updates on relevant jobs. 

‘Admin’ – which acts as a highly personalised FAQ solution, providing access to backend systems so candidates can proactively engage the agency (via chat) at their convenience.  They can obtain updates on things like salary payments, availability updates, new shift allocations and password reset support. 

How did you get making and selling your own software?

smartAI (co-founders Peter Stackpole & Raj Soni) was born from the convergence of several core technologies that opened up new possibilities for the recruitment industry. Conversational AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the proliferation of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and cloud based ATS/CRM solutions all combined to allow the development of smartAI’s highly functioning chatbot platform. 

The core technology of the platform centres around providing a conversational based user interface (chat) that interacts with candidates, collecting/providing specific data, completing set tasks with that data using RPA and then updating appropriate databases via APIs.  

The fundamental need for such a solution was to resolve the problem facing recruiters.  They were drowning under the administrative requirements of their roles and therefore other key duties such as relationship building with candidates and clients, things that they could do well which technology couldn’t, were just being neglected. 

The industry challenge was that the efficacy of current methods used to engage candidates was on the decline, the complexity of HR technology was on the incline and age old issues such as updating databases and generally managing them appropriately, was just not happening. 

Having come from a Recruitment, HR tech and AI background, we could see the value of an automated solution that could reach out to candidates, interact with them (via chat) gathering relevant data and then make appropriate decisions as they’re guided along the recruitment journey. 

We had worked with recruitment agencies for nearly 20 years, so agencies were our obvious starting point and we have not veered from this path.  

We were supported by some very generous agencies that shared our vision and worked with us to develop various parts of the solution. Initially, we developed a chatbot that provided support services to a large working contractor database. Other clients saw the need to manage their databases better as candidates were scarce and advertising costs started to rise, so they began working with us on a database cleansing chatbot. Finally, the screening and shortlisting functionality was developed to handle large projects such as the Melbourne F1 and WA election which has now morphed to also handle the day to day management of jobs that make up the volume of activity conducted by the average recruitment agency. 

We continue to develop the solution, refining the client dashboard and various other features based on client feedback. We have always tried to democratise the use of our platform and have since completed our ‘self-service’ module opening up our solution to even one person agencies. 

Who are you building your software for?

Recruiters, recruitment agencies (both blue- and white-collar) and ultimately for candidates. There is return on investment and a strong business case, regardless of how miniscule or massing your hiring efforts.

Can you offer an example of how it works?

The Melbourne F1 is a great example of how the platform can assist at scale during the recruitment process.  

One of smartAI’s first customers, National Workforce (NWF) were faced with the challenge of turning an extremely labour-intensive recruitment process for a high-profile, high-volume event like the Melbourne 2020 F1 into a well-oiled workflow process that was not only time and cost efficient but also well received by candidates.  

The smartAI Engage solution was tasked with taking candidates from the application stage where it assisted with data collection and the initial screening of the candidate, to shortlisting candidates whilst ensuring every applicant was responded to, and then coordinated further onboarding requirements and interviews for the successful applicants with the recruitment team. It is interesting to note three key statistics;  over 49% of all engagements happened outside of core business hours, over 67% were on a mobile device and the average time taken to complete the recruitment journey, (that is to go from the initial application on a jobs board to having an interview booked) took 67 minutes. The feedback from candidates at the face-to-face interview stage (pre covid) was overwhelmingly positive with people sighting convenience and ease of use as standouts.  

The feedback from the recruitment team was similar. The first time they spoke to the candidate was during the interview.  This saved them over 2,500 hours’ worth of their time which meant they could allocate more time with the candidates face to face. It really was a win win for everyone involved. Unfortunately, due to Covid, the event was called off at the last minute. 

For 2021, the technology developments continue at full throttle (excuse the pun). Due to the new post Covid environment, video interviews will now be organised by the chatbot through Calendly in conjunction with references via Referoo. 

Melbourne 2020 F1 summary: 

What we are really excited about is how we have now deployed this same technology into the day to day functioning of NWF. In 2020 alone, National Workforce’s chatbot sent over 643,000 messages to some 34,300 applicants, automating the scheduling of over 5,700 interviews across 228 job roles

Do you have any key metrics that show traction?

A great example is one of our clients, Labourpower, achieves 91% cost saving per annum with smartAI recruitment chatbots

The Automated AI Recruitment Platform for the HR and Recruitment Industry

Leveraging you with the power of artificial intelligence, the Smart AI solutions brings you its intelligence-driven BOTs that offers great conversational experience. These smart BOTs can chat with customers colloquially and are customized to seamlessly manage business-specific applications. These BOTs can help you enhance the performance of your business processes in an automated manner.


smartAI designs SaaS software that helps modernize HR workflows. SmartAI_Admin writes all of the articles. The articles treat subjects like Case Study. The company has 4 employees. smartAI was founded in 2017.

Software features

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

Recruitment and talent acquisition can make or break an organization. If you hire the best and keep them for long enough, the company will prosper. Otherwise, you know the story.

smartAI recruitment software can help you manage every element of your recruitment process, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding candidates. This recruitment software streamlines the entire recruiting process and makes it less overwhelming for the recruiter and the candidate.

smartAI eliminates many of the monotonous tasks in talent acquisition, integrates well with your existing systems, and, more importantly, is simple to use. smartAI talent acquisition software is also primed to offer the best candidate experience possible, thereby making your company one step closer to becoming the ultimate destination employer. Give it a try and see the positive differences it brings to your recruitment process.

Workforce Planning and Management

smartAI is a workforce management software that enables organizations to effectively forecast labor requirements and optimize the productivity of their employees. It helps in creating meaningful shift schedules that effectively manage employee time.

smartAI comes with an intuitive and simplistic user interface, making it easier to onboard new users. It also offers prompt customer support and can help automate several staff scheduling tasks.


Pricing for smartAI depends on your company's needs. This will factor in the number of software users and the size of your organization.


You want your valuable data to be in good hands. smartAI is very aware that security is a key aspect of HR sofware. You might want to take a look at the smartAI privacy policy to get a better understanding on their internal security processes. The terms and conditions page outlines all the details.


If you are ready to choose smartAI as your HR solution or need additional information, you can reach their sales team by phone or email.



How many people work at smartAI?

4 employees.

Where can I follow smartAI on social media?

What is workforce management?

Workforce management is a process of coordinating various tasks to be done by an employee or group of employees. It aims to increase the productivity of both individuals and the organization.

How does workforce management work?

Employees inputs their availability for work shifts, preferred shifts, and any other information that will allow them to achieve maximum efficiency in their tasks. The workforce management software then creates the best schedule where all employees can have time for their personal lives as well as attend to other business-related activities.

What are the benefits of workforce management?

The main benefit of workforce management solutions is that it helps increase the productivity of employees. This ultimately results in an organization maximizing its production output.

What are the drawbacks of workforce management?

The major drawback to using workforce management software is that it may not be applicable for companies with small workforce sizes.

What are the different applications of workforce management?

Workforce management software has many different applications in various industries. Some of these include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Discrete manufacturing
  • Service application
  • Retail
  • Healthcare

What is the difference between workforce management and human resources?

Workforce management is a system that supports the needs of an organization’s production process with regard to its personnel. HR, on the other hand, is a department tasked to help employees in different aspects of their lives while they work for an organization.

Why should I consider customer support when buying a workforce management tool?

Customer support covers all the issues, inquiries, and problems that organizations will encounter while using workforce management software. It also includes how these problems will be addressed and resolved.

What is a mobile-friendly workforce management solution?

A mobile-friendly workforce management platform can be accessed by employees through their mobile phones or tablets. This allows them to create time cards, request time offs, and access other confidential information without having to sit in front of their computer screens.

What is the difference between workforce management and employee scheduling software?

Workforce management is a more advanced system as it employs advanced algorithms that take into consideration various factors like an employee’s availability, skills, and the company’s workload during the planning of work shifts. Employee scheduling software makes work shifts according to human input and information such as available equipment and employees’ skills.

How will workforce management impact my business?

A workforce management system can help minimize costs by reducing the number of employees that are required to complete a certain task. It is also able to assign various tasks to the right person for better efficiency.

Who needs workforce management software?

Every business needs workforce management at some point. The problem is that not all companies know the importance of having a workforce management system to maximize their production output.

What are the main features of workforce management solutions?

Common features of workforce management systems include employee scheduling, shift swapping, scheduling conflicts, customization, shift reports, real-time notifications, time clock connectivity, time tracking software integration, and online employee scheduling.

How do you track employee engagement?

How employee engagement is tracked varies among organizations. That’s because the KPIs used to measure employee engagement and the motives behind doing so differs.
Here are some things to consider when tracking employee engagement:
Determine the outcomes of engagement

  • Understand what’s important to employees
  • Make it a continuous process of listening to employees
  • Find the drivers that have the most significant impact on employee engagement and the organization
  • Don’t stick to just quantitative results

What are employee engagement strategies?

Employee engagement strategies can increase the chances that employees will establish a healthy and positive emotional connection with an organization. As emotional connections can rarely be forced to form, employee engagement strategies will involve setting the workplace environment to foster such relationships.

What companies have great employee engagement?

Here are some of the companies that are successful with employee engagement:

  • Southwest Airlines
  • Full Contact
  • Screwfix
  • Dreamworks
  • Legal Monkeys

What are the key drivers of employee engagement?

Some of the critical drivers of employee engagement are:

  • Co-worker relationships
  • Continuous feedback
  • Leader integrity
  • Professional development
  • Goal support
  • Job role clarification
  • Sense of belonging
  • Relationship with manager
  • Workplace safety
  • Job satisfaction

What are the types of employee engagement?

The most vital types of employee engagement are:

  1. Cognitive engagement: It refers to the need for employees to be profoundly aligned with and aware of the organizational strategies and know what they need to deliver at work.
  2. Physical engagement: It refers to employees fully utilizing their physical and mental strengths to perform their job better.
  3. Emotional engagement: It refers to the level of trust, confidence, and connection employees have with the organization and co-workers.

Why do we measure employee engagement?

Measuring employee engagement enables organizations to understand how an optimally engaged employee will perform like. This information can be used to frame strategies to enhance levels of engagement and elevate employee engagement throughout the organization. This will ultimately result in better service to customers, higher profits, and happier shareholders.

How is employee satisfaction KPI measured?

The employee satisfaction KPI is measured using employee surveys, informal conversations, and net promoter scores.

What are the benefits of employee engagement?

Here are some of the top benefits of employee engagement:

  • Happier employees
  • Better employee health and wellness
  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Higher profitability
  • Better employee satisfaction and safety

What are good employee engagement questions?

Here are some employee engagement survey questions worth including:

  • I would recommend [Company] as an excellent place to work.
  • My manager is a great person to work with.
  • I receive the needed recognition when I perform well at work.
  • I’m proud to work for [Company]
  • What are the things [Company] do rightly?

Is there free employee engagement software to try out?

The majority of employee engagement applications offer a free trial. This will empower you to try out the tool before making a serious investment in it.


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Page last updated on Saturday, October 16, 2021, 12:59 AM GMT+2
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