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Talent Innovation Summit Countdown: Hear how Hot Topic Brings Machine Learning to Recruiting

At our Talent Innovation Talent Innovation Summit, we’ll hear from teams who understand that diving into data isn’t scary. It isn’t time-consuming. In fact, if you know which tools to use and which metrics to look at, it can be seriously game-changing.

One speaker who knows this better than most? Hot Topic and BoxLunch Head of Recruiting Johnny Sanchez (yes, he runs recruiting at both the parent and subsidiary company). In his breakout session on September 19th, he’ll not only reveal how analyzing your recruiting data can help you scale more efficiently – he’ll share how his own teams have integrated machine learning into their strategies.  

With less than 25 days until the Summit, we asked Johnny to give us a glimpse at how he’s mastering data-driven recruiting at scale. Take a look at what he revealed:

1. What initially sparked your interest in using data to drive your recruiting processes at Hot Topic and BoxLunch?

I’ve always been attracted to data; it’s a concrete way to validate ROI. With larger datasets, there’s an opportunity to find a narrative and call to action, and I walked into the perfect environment for that at Hot Topic and BoxLunch. We’re in high-growth mode, and there was room to optimize existing processes. Data was and is critical in order to validate and build buy-in, which we were able to use in identifying strategies that had the greatest opportunity to add value.

2. We hear you use machine learning to improve your hiring success. We’re excited to learn more in your presentation. Can you explain at a high level the benefits that machine learning delivers for you?

Our dive into data painted a really clear picture; we can hire more efficiently at scale by automating stages in our recruiting process. By integrating machine learning into Lever, we’re leveraging probability algorithms that screen and rank all applicants based off of unbiased performance indicators. The ROI here is an ability to screen every single resume we receive instantly, and invest our time in the most qualified candidates.

3. To what extent do you think AI, bots and machine learning will replace human beings in the recruitment process?

Significantly over the next five to seven years. As humans, we’re naturally biased, prone to error and have limitations on our ability to process data. By incorporating machine learning, we’ll be able to minimize our bias in hiring (driving diversity and inclusion initiatives). With bots, we can automate sourcing along with other task-driven processes. What this means is that the need for coordinators and admins will diminish, along with certain sourcing roles. But at the core, recruiting is about authentic human connections. The need for recruiting teams will continue to be a constant.

4. Last year, your recruiting team of four managed nearly 300,000 applicants. What’s your secret?

I have an amazing team! We took a step back looked at the (exciting) challenges at hand through a data lens, then went to work building a new recruiting tech stack and optimizing processes across our org (HQ and retail). With data telling a clear narrative, we were able to make the right moves that drove efficiency at scale.

5. Can you walk us through one of your most memorable hiring stories?

I’ve had a hand in hundreds of hires since I joined Hot Topic and BoxLunch, but the most memorable is the building of my team. I had the opportunity to hire the two recruiters that would ultimately partner with me to achieve very ambitious targets. I had worked with one of the two in the past, and we both knew we’d work together again. The second initially declined interest, but I asked for a coffee meetup, which led to a visit to our HQ, and ultimately she joined the team. Coincidentally, her one year anniversary will be during the Talent Innovation Summit!

6. Has leading the talent function at Hot Topic influenced your fashion choices at all?

Yes! I’ve definitely added to my concert tee collection: Zeppelin, Bowie and the Stones, to name a few.

7. We can’t wait for September 18-19. What are you most excited for? And who are you most excited to hear from?

I can’t wait either! I’m excited network with fellow recruiting innovators; Charney and Lou Adler are always on point!

Charney and Lou Adler are always fantastic, aren’t they? Well, it’s clear that you will be too, Johnny. Thank you for giving us a peek at what our audience can expect from you in only 24 days.

Last week, Jer Langhans of Paired Sourcing told us more about how they’ll source side-by-side with Summit attendees to help them unearth new candidate pools. We’re really enjoying this whole get-a-taste-of-what-speakers-will-share trend. We may have to keep it going.