This Female-Led Startup Says It Knows How to Take the Bias Out of Hiring

Courtesy of Pymetrics

Unless you’ve never heard of BuzzFeed, chances are you’ve taken a personality test (or ten) at some point in your life. There’s something deeply satisfying about answering a few questions and being told that Chandler is the Friends character you most resemble or that if you were a pizza, you would be pepperoni.

Still, those aren’t exactly life-changing insights. But what if there were a quiz that could help set you—à la the Hogwarts sorting hat—on the career path that best suits your personality and abilities?

That’s the idea behind Pymetrics, a startup founded by two neuroscientists. Employers use the company’s technology to “quiz” candidates and employees to help identify their strengths (and weak spots) and match them with certain types of jobs. Or, as Frida Polli, the company’s co-founder and CEO, described it in an exclusive interview with Fortune: “We set about making a platform that improved the quality of data that people are using when making hiring decisions.”

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On Wednesday, the three-year-old company announced a Series A funding round of $6.13 million from notable venture capital firms Khosla Ventures and woman-focused BBG Ventures, among others.

The company, which currently has 20 employees, is already serving a number of global Fortune 500 employers, says Polli. The goal of this new round is to expand Pymetrics’ headcount and improve its ability to serve its clients, for which it provides three types of services:

  1. Predictive hiring: Helping them sort through existing applicant pools
  2. Internal mobility: Identifying employees within their ranks who would be well-suited for certain positions
  3. Sourcing platform: Widening their talent search


Pymetrics’ services begin with its assessment tool, which is essentially a series of games that job applicants (or employees) play. These games—which are based on scientific research—identify players’ cognitive traits, such as attention duration and flexibility in multitasking, as well as emotional and social traits (e.g. levels of trust and altruism preferences).

For applicants, the platform offers insight into the kinds of careers that fit their character profiles. On the company side, Pymetrics works to create profiles for specific roles or of high-performing employees, and then connects the business with candidates who match the profiles that it’s looking for.

“There are two real issues here that every company faces,” says BBG Ventures president and managing partner Susan Lyne. “It’s not just about recruiting people, but it’s also about retention. If you can get someone into a job that they’re well-suited for you’re more likely to retain them for longer.”

As an added bonus, the technology claims to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process from both the company’s and the applicant’s side. For example, says Polli, “We find that as many women as men fit the profile for finance careers.”

Barb Marder, a senior partner in HR consulting firm Mercer’s talent business, says that diversity is becoming increasingly important to her clients. “It works like a blind audition because you see the results first,” she says. Mercer is an investor, client, and partner of Pymetrics, offering many of its clients a sales employee-focused platform powered by the startup, under the name Mercer Match.

Pymetrics is one of a number of startups trying to disrupt the typically slow-moving space of recruitment technology. “It’s a big market that hasn’t really been impacted by new technology,” says Lyne. “Most companies are still operating under a 1.0 tech platform.”

IBM’s Kenexa and Hogan Assessments are among Pymetrics older, more established competitors, while the field of startups in the space is growing rapidly and includes players like hiring platforms Unitive and WayUp, and millennial career site The Muse.

Interestingly, like Pymetrics, these other new entrants are female-led, something that Lyne says is not surprising to her as an investor. “We see over and over again female entrepreneurs who are consumer problem solvers,” she says. “They go after work life, home life, leisure, and say, ‘I can make this better, faster.'”

Here’s hoping that finding the right job can one day be as quick and easy as a BuzzFeed quiz.

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