Take the Interview?

January 18, 2012

When you’re tasked with recruiting for a venture capital firm and its portfolio of almost 20 companies, things can get hectic. There are days when I have nothing scheduled except phone screens. Some interviewees are worthy of being moved forward to the next round, while many others are passed on. When a phone screen doesn’t go too well because the candidate didn’t answer the basic questions properly, didn’t seem like a good cultural fit, etc, I always feel as though I could have made better use of those wasted 30 minutes.

I came across an article in Inc. Magazine that piqued my interest. A startup called Take the Interview claims that “screening job candidates is a huge waste of time. Recruiters often know after just a few minutes whether a candidate is worth an in-person interview, but they go on interviewing anyway!”

You can imagine where the inefficiencies begin. Take the Interview is a video interviewing platform that allows hiring managers and recruiters to ask 3-5 key questions to numerous candidates and receive video responses. These responses can be viewed during your train commute into work, when you’re bored at home or basically whenever you have time that doesn’t fall under crucial normal business hours. I figured it was worth learning more about and was soon given a live demo by CEO and Founder, Danielle Weinblatt.

This is basically how it works:

You, the person in charge of interviewing, can create a list of questions to ask a candidate or you could select some from a robust bank of commonly asked questions which are categorized appropriately by profession. Then you confirm an interview time with the candidate, who only needs a computer and a webcam. Once the candidate is ready to go, he/she is then given 30 seconds to prepare for each question before answering live in a video recording. Each answer is limited to 2 minutes, which makes sense since increased productivity and efficiency is the point of the program. If the interview requires presenting certain materials like a portfolio or PowerPoint slides, there is a file-sharing feature that allows the candidate to speak to each item as if he/she was in the same room as the interviewer.

After the 3-5 questions are answered by the candidate, the video file is submitted and reviewed by the hiring team which then makes a decision on next steps. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to realize who the duds and worthy contenders are. This beats the 20-30 minutes that are normally spent purely out of politeness when the phone screen is a bust. With Take the Interview, screening costs are apparently reduced by as much as 90%. With 600 companies currently registered with the program, including expansion stage technology startups and venture capital firms, I’m wondering if this just might be the way to go.

I do, however, have one concern.

A vital component of a phone screen is missing in this video interviewing alternative. At the end of a phone screen, I always leave time for the candidate to ask me a few questions. This is valuable because through the candidate’s questions I can get a further sense of how smart or interested they are in the position. On top of that, by immediately answering these questions, I’m enabled to sell them even harder on the role and company. However, because the interaction between the interviewee and interviewer is not live, this critical element goes missing.

I understand no system is perfect, and this is why I’ll be sharing my thoughts soon on how my free trials go with Take the Interview. With a monthly fee of $99 allowing you to post 2 jobs and view 50 individual video responses, I’m curious to see what the ROI is like.

If anyone’s had any experience with this program or others like it, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Director of Recruiting

Victor Mahillon is the Director of Recruiting at <a href="http://kamcord.com">Kamcord</a>. Previously he was a Talent manager at OpenView.