Pymetrics aims to help students determine strengths

by Daniel Kim | 11/1/15 8:46pm

The first thing that one encounters upon making an account for pymetrics is a series of games. One of them, called “Keypresses,” is — as the name suggests — all about pressing a key as fast as you can for a few seconds. This game, it turns out, is a measure of one’s processing speed, as well as one’s impulsiveness or deliberateness when reacting to new information.

Co-founded by Frida Polli ’94, pymetrics is a career search platform that uses 12 of these short games, which take between one and five minutes to complete, to assess one’s cognitive, social and emotional traits. These traits are then used to match recruiting companies with job seekers.

Polli studied English at Dartmouth and went on to receive a Ph.D. in neuropsychology at Suffolk University, then a master’s of business of administration from Harvard Business School. Although this education path may seem atypical or even random, she said every step of her education is connected by her fascination with neuroscience, which she was first exposed to as a senior at the College.

“It is possible that if I hadn’t been exposed [at Dartmouth], I would not have even ended up getting a Ph.D. in neuroscience and going down that path,” Polli said.

Polli said she noticed at Harvard that neuroscience could be used in an innovative way in corporate recruiting when observing how people at the business school attempted to find their careers. Traditional methods of attempting to find a career, she said, could cause undue stress. As a result, she decided to apply her years of development in neuroscience to corporate recruiting, and that led to pymetrics’ inception in 2012.

“The ways that careers are assessed generally is a lot of questionnaires, focus groups, conversations with people and presentations, and there wasn’t anything that was looking at what your cognitive and emotional strengths were,” Polli said. “That’s what neuroscience is basically about — examining people’s cognitive and emotional abilities and predicting something about them.”

Polli said that an important aspect of pymetrics is that it does not take into account demographic variables such as gender, ethnicity or one’s education. Anyone, she said, can become an entrepreneur — while men currently dominate the field, what matters is innate skills and cognitive preferences, not demographics. The company can help broaden people’s perspectives, she said.

Software engineer Fedor Garin, who has worked at pymetrics since April 2014, said that being surrounded by smart, capable people makes working at pymetrics exciting.

“[Polli] can think about a hundred different things at the same time, and she is handling this company at a thousand miles per hour,” Garin said. “If you talk with her, you can see how smart she is and how quick she is on her feet. She has to make a lot of decisions and make them quickly, and she’s very capable for holding up the company.”

Feyaad Allie ’16, who will be working in management consulting, said that he generally does not believe career search platforms like pymetrics are useful to find jobs.

“I’m skeptical that even though pymetrics is different from traditional career fit questionnaires, it won’t be very helpful,” Allie said. “I doubt that playing games that are not very relevant to specific career paths will be as helpful as actually talking to people in those fields.”

Polli noted an analogy between online dating and pymetrics. She said both provide a method for people to meet — just as eHarmony links potential dating partners, pymetrics can connect career searchers and potential recruiters.

“The introduction of online dating doesn’t mean that everyone meets online, but it’s another way of meeting people other than through friends or getting set up,” Polli said. “It just added a channel that was not there before.”

Pymetrics might not replace resume drops or referrals from real-life connections altogether, she said, but the firm can help introduce people to new networks.