Transcript of the interview between Nicola Palumbo & Pasquale De Martino (Cio Club Italy)

26 February 2021

Pasquale De Martino: So a good evening to all our friends of Cio Club Italia. Here we are again with our monthly column "A chat with..." Tonight we're meeting Nicola Palumbo of talent4gig. Good evening Nicola.

Nicola Palumbo (NP): Good evening to all of you and thank you for inviting me to this column.

PDM : We also have Guiliano Liquori (GL) and Eduardo De Crescenzo (EDC) with us.

EDC: Good Evening.

GL: Good evening

NP: Good evening everyone

PDM: So Nicola, we've already met previously at the SMAU, with such an interesting name, if you will, my first question has to be this one: What is talent4gig?

NP: Before getting into it, if you allow me, I'd like to tell you why our business was born. And then, I'll tell you what talent4gig is. Sure. During my career, usually, I was the IT so the technical person who was called in to evaluate the technical skills of candidates during the interview stage and I often found candidates not up to par because they had been chosen just through the CV, which wasn't able to show the candidate's real skills. So in 2018 we started this company to help developers and businesses to find each other. Here, this is the reason why talent4gig was born. Now I can answer your question straight away by telling you what talent4gig is. It's a web platform, based on artificial intelligence that has the aim of measuring technical skills through coding challenges build on real business situations. There, this is talent4gig.

PDM: And could you just give us an example just to..

NP: Sure. Some companies, for example, need to hire developers. So instead of posting the job ad on a job search portal, they come to us and we build a challenge specific to them to ensure they get the best candidate in the simplest way possible. This is our goal as a company. A coding challenge is just a piece of code that the candidate.. a mini solution that they have to develop in order to get to the next stage of the interview which is the face-to-face technical interview.

EDC: I prepared what I wanted to ask you because I was quite intrigued by this coding challenge, but what intrigued me is how you use the AI algorithms to analyse this code that, I suppose will then also be part of the candidate selection process.

NP: Yes, starting from an analysis, as I mentioned before, an analysis of the customer's needs from the point of view of what they actually have to go on to develop, we build an ad hoc challenge to test the skills, so the challenge is published on the various social media channels or even on the classic job search portals and it's also disclosed in our community, so what do the candidates do? They see the coding challenge they send their solution and as soon as the solution is received by our platform, the process of verifying the skills starts with the analysis of the source code that the candidates sent us. So the AI has the purpose of providing an empirical assessment and not conditioned by human factors and this is the aspect through which we intend to completely remove the biases that exist during the recruitment process and not only.

PDM: Very interesting

EDC: Nice, Nicola. I wanted to ask you to give me three reasons, let's say benefits why companies should choose talent4gig?

NP: Yes. So the company was born the help companies obviously, but also for candidates so before going into the benefits for companies, I'd like to stress that our empirical verification tool is a tool that is also beneficial for candidates because we know very well that it's very difficult to write a perfect CV and to show your skills from the CV, so the first benefit goes to the candidates, this is clear, but at the same time the platform gives companies three main benefits. The first is the assessment of the skills and therefore it tries to save companies time by selecting only the candidates who are up to par and avoiding interviews with candidates who are not on the brief. This is one of the first benefits. So there's a time saving by using a pre-screening process through our platform. But this process, since it's also free of bias, so without prejudice it also gives the possibility to build more diversified teams, compared to selecting people directly from a CV, so we also aim at a strong diversification factor within the team both for technical skills but also in a later phase of the so-called soft skills. The third but not least advantages for companies is that the coding challenge can also be used as a gathering time with the aim of increasing the visibility of client companies to clearly carry out a complete skill assessment of internal teams within the company. so there's a possibility clearly in the hiring to make yourself known within these worlds, and when I say words I am talking about communities among developers via these coding challenges but at the same time to use these coding challenges to carry out an internal skill assessment of the teams and to create growth paths for the company. So the last advantage, this one I am talking about should give the company an idea of how to actually go about selecting internal staff for projects, but also how to access communities external to the company.

EDC: Thank you

PDM: I'd like to better understand how is the candidate selected. Meaning, once the challenge has launched, does the candidate go directly to the challenge or is there also an interview to check the soft skills and more?

NP: Clearly the... Thank you for this question, I care to clarify this aspect which in my opinion is very important. The platform was created mainly to verify technical skills. OK? So our core competence are mainly technical skills. Also, because they're perfectly measurable as an activity. What we do is a benchmark compared to the many other solutions we receive and so it's an element that can be measured. As for the soft skills, we're currently working on a solution that can facilitate those on the other side, so in the company, we get an idea of the soft skills that the candidate may have. However, we leave this very important element to companies. Also, because in addition to the soft skills the so-called culture fit should also be verified. So whether the candidate actually fits in within the environment. This is an aspect that's very subjective and that for now, we leave to the companies. What we do is a very solid screening from a technical point of view.

PDM: Nicola, another question. Once a candidate participates in a challenge

NP: Yes

PDM: He's then classified according to his skills, when other companies require, let's say, staff can you automatically contact them again? Or once the challenge is finished there's no database of the best, of the first, the second, the third placements in the challenge?

NP: We obviously have a verified database, of verified talents...

PDM: Even with the placement

NP: Exactly. I don't want to clarify that we don't do contact people once we've hired for a company. Clearly, we don't contact these people again to take them back to allocate them to another company this would be not very competitive. It's the candidate who must always express the will to change jobs and then we offer the possibility. I want to clarify this because it's a very, very important element of our process of managing this talent pool.

PDM: Great, great.

NP: It must be said that the coding challenges are usually tailored to the customer's needs, so it's often difficult for us to actually understand in quotation marks if that person can be used, excuse the expression, for other types of projects. So if a project is more or less similar, yes it's possible but when they're different companies we tend to create ad hoc challenges so the company can hire exactly what they need.

PDM: OK, I'll take advantage of having you here with us to ask if you could reserve special promotions for members of the Cio Club Italia.

NP: This is for sure a promotion that we can do and that I do it with pleasure, so for the members of Cio Club we offer a 25% discount for a subscription to our Focus Plan. In addition, a reduction in the minimum subscription term to our platform from 12 to 4 months, so an item for you and definitely to help the Cio Club community.

PDM: So all the rest of the information we need we'll find on your site?

NP: Yes, we have a specific pricing section, our prices are public so from that price there once they indicate that they've been introduced to us from you we'll apply this promotion. It's not a discount we give to everyone, however, to our acquaintance, partnership and mutual collaboration for your community, we're willing to give this kind of discount.

PDM: Regarding this, we've organized ourselves this year with the blockchain that reserves for premium subscribers, a verifiable pennant, so a certificate to demonstrate that they're indeed members of Cio Club so we've specifically organized ourselves for this.

NP: So using this technology, there's no way that... We're 100% sure.. That it's a member.

PDM: OK, I don't know if there are other question from Giuliano or Edo.

GL: I wanted to congratulate you because in this short interview I've got to know talent4gig and I'm truly impressed by what they've created and I think it's something really innovative. We talk a lot of startup innovation, but few actually do things and I can say that we're proud that Nicola did it, who comes from our country, even though he now works in Switzerland, but he's from the South of Italy so really congratulations, Nicola.

NP: Than you, thank you very much for the compliments, and it's always nice to receive compliments. Last year we closed and I want to stress that we've received the compliments so in English is a Seal of Excellence so a seal of quality from the European Union that certified us an extremely innovative project. So it was a great way to end the year and thank you now for allowing me to start this 2021, even though it started a while ago in the best way. So I thank you for inviting me to this column.

PDM: Great, So we can move to the closing remarks. I take this opportunity to greet all our members. A special thank you to Nicola for his availability. OK. Thank you everyone.

GL: Good evening. Bye Nicola

NP: Thanks, thanks.

EDC: Good evening, thanks