IBM Watson builds a game winning artificial intelligence team with HireVue

Better assess for coding and cultural fit
Remove resume bias and promote diversity
Team Acceleration improved offer rate by 30%
Easily distinguish top 2% of 4K Candidate Pool

Technology giant IBM needs no introduction. For decades the company has been wowing businesses and consumers alike with innovations that have disrupted the way business is conducted and people interact with technology. And now, their latest innovation - Watson - the artificial intelligent computer system - is taking the world by storm.
You might know Watson from defeating human competitors on “Jeopardy!” - the suspense-filled tournament that was watched by millions; or maybe you’ve read Watson’s published cookbook, Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. When Watson isn’t winning game shows or creating recipes, Watson is training to be a cancer specialist. Watson’s learning capabilities allow it to function as a clinical support system by medical professionals. Watson’s sophisticated artificial intelligence can find personalized treatments for cancer patients by comparing treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against thousands of medical journals in mere minutes. The way in which Watson can ingest material and make reasonable conclusions is transforming other industries as well, including financial planning and customer service.
IBM thinks so much of Watson’s innovation that in January 2014, the company created a business unit around Watson, with a division dedicated to grow the business. Healthcare is one of Watson’s top priorities and with a team of 2,000 developers and researchers, Watson is ready to revolutionize how doctors research and advise on cancer treatment options.

Jerome Pesenti, VP of Core Technology for IBM Watson explains the significance of Watson and the brilliant brains behind it.

“We’re first in the field developing artificial intelligence and solving real world problems. Our technology team is responsible to deliver the products we commit to, on time with the quality that IBM and our customers expect,” says Pesenti. “We are carving the path in this field and are committed to developing state of the art technology.”

“We move very fast and even have what we call ‘Watson Time’ where a day is like a week, a week is like a month and so on. We launch new initiatives quickly, and when we have a vacancy on our team, it impacts how quickly we can deliver.”

Being the leader in artificial intelligence, Watson requires some of the brightest technical minds on the planet. “We have very ambitious talent and hiring goals,” Pesenti explains. “We want the absolute best team and need them quickly. Having an opening on our team for weeks versus months makes a huge difference. We recognized that most hiring processes are antiquated and we challenged our talent team to do things differently.”

Pesenti partnered with Obed Louissaint, Vice President of HR for IBM Watson, Watson Health, Research, Technical Talent & Corporate Functions to develop a strategy to secure the best talent through an exceptional process.

“The high caliber of candidates we want on our engineering team presents us with a unique challenge. These great minds are difficult to find, and their skills are the highest in demand,” explains Louissaint.

“Even when we can find candidates who are qualified 

technically, our team leaders also want to assess if they are the type of team member that we’d want to work with all day long. We want people who are empowered, big thinkers, passionate and highly collaborative in addition to their technical prowess. In understanding and appreciating that, we shifted our own talent acquisition processes to bring this to life,” shares Louissaint.

HireVue’s Team Acceleration software offered IBM Watson a new approach to attracting, engaging with and evaluating Watson’s engineering candidates, offering a way to better understand a candidate’s unique story, potential and personality beyond what a resume, profile or form would indicate.

“We want a unique approach to engage with our candidates and something that they might not expect. We recognize that people like to express themselves through video and we immediately saw the potential with HireVue. We need talent who can be social and engaging even in remote environments, so video provides us an avenue to gauge that,” says Louissaint. “HireVue is quite disruptive and innovative and it meshes well with who we are as an organization.”

Both Pesenti and Jeff Jablonowski, Core Technology Development Manager, welcomed a digital transition within their hiring process.

“Beyond someone’s technical abilities, we have core competencies we’re looking for to join our team,” comments Jablonowski. “A level of passion, communication skills and problem solving skills are all attributes we’re looking for and something we couldn’t determine until we met them face to face.”

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Jerome Pesenti

Jerome Pesenti

VP of Core Technology for IBM Watson

“One of the great benefits of HireVue is that the candidates can completely differentiate themselves without bias,” explains Jablonowski. “We’ve brought people onto our team who have been such great assets, but their resume didn’t portray their potential. Enabling these candidates to tell their own story has given them the opportunity to differentiate themselves to us. Regardless of what school they went to or previous job experience, they can stand out through HireVue.”


“HireVue’s technology empowers IBM to have more diversified recruitment,” Jablonowski continues. “Regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, you’re able to look at true abilities, hard skills like coding and soft skills like passion."

These are the things that matter and enable us to look beyond their name or some bullets on a profile.”

Busy Tech Teams Make Hiring Decisions Quickly with Team Acceleration Software


With deliverables and deadlines, Pesenti and Jablonowski don’t have extra time to spend scheduling interviews.

“Trying to find and schedule a synchronous time for the candidate and screening manager is so challenging,” says Jablonowski. “HireVue offers a way to easily assess their technical chops and core competencies earlier in the process before we’ve invested too much time.”

“It’s also broadened our reach,” explains Pesenti. “We can connect with more candidates faster. We’re screening more people on the front end enabling us to make better hiring decisions.””

Advice from IBM

“HireVue has allowed us to be more nimble and make smarter and faster hiring decisions. Develop a solid partnership with your talent acquisition team, work with them and align on your goals. Take the time to develop question sets that give you the insight you need to empower your hiring team. Finally, if your process is too easy, then you probably aren’t hiring the best talent,” concludes Jablonowski.