More dispatches from the "Future of Hiring"

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on October 2, 2013

From The News Desk

The issues companies face when looking for talented new hires are not new. Hiring has always been a pain in the ass, even before the advent of the Internet (although, how could someone as young as I remember such a time?) For example, why are interviews so goddamned awkward and time consuming?

In the 21st Century, answers to this problem have popped up all over the place, what with easy video chatting solutions like Skype and less ubiquitous video interview platforms like Apploi and Spark Hire. I've written about a few already.

One in particular has been around for a while, slowly building a national clientele of employers. HireVue, which was founded in 2004, has built a video interviewing platform that attempts to easily vet and interview candidates in the most painless way possible. HireVue's platform allows applicants to record interviews online on their own time. The employers can either pre-record questions or write them into the platform, and then the interviewees answer each question at their own leisure.

HireVue's CEO Mark Newman told me that the initial idea for the platform came from wondering, "What if we could TiVo applicants?" Since that early idea, the company has continued on the path of video interviews.

Today, the Utah-based company is announcing a $25 million round of funding led by Sequoia Capital, with the intent of launching new platform features and expanding its services internationally. With this funding, the company plans to increase its 140 person staff to up to 240, as well as further expand its platform's features.

HireVue's CEO Mark Newman described their video interview service as "completely asynchronous and on-demand," in that people can perform the interview whenever and employers can re-watch it as many times as they want. These aspects supposedly alleviate jitters for the interviewee and save companies loads of cash. Companies have been taking notice; HireVue claims to have over 300 enterprise customers, including Red Bull, Bike, and JP Morgan.

Newman told me that the platform has interviewed hundreds of thousands of people, and it "will reach the million mark soon." He wouldn't, however, give me exact numbers.

According to Newman, the company will expand its platform to include a new "Talent Interaction Platform." He says that this helps streamline the process for numerous recruiting methods (i.e. social media, an recruiting agency, etc.). It claims to "deliver high-definition clarity into people's character, cultural fit, personality, and potential." As I read this description, it just seemed like a bunch of bells and whistles for a pretty simple platform concept. In addition, the platform's description is wrought with words like "turbocharged" and "hi-def," neither of which I would expect to be descriptors of a recruiting software.

I've written about a few companies that claim to "disrupt" the hiring process and am generally dubious of this concept. As someone who has been interviewed for a lot of jobs, I think that pain might just be intrinsic to the hiring process. No matter what app you tout or what feature your recruiting platform claims to possess, employers are not going to find the right candidate unless they get up close and personal with potential hires.

But I will say that HireVue does offer a service that seems quite useful. While it doesn't completely change the "hiring process," it does add some value in some much-needed areas, such as pre-interviewing. It allows clients to more easily vet candidates for jobs that have high application rates and require a more basic skill set.

During our conversation, Newman brought up an interesting point: For some positions, there are just so many people with the same resumes that it is impossible to pick one from another. "MBA candidates are the same as hourly workers," he said. This doesn't mean that they have the same credentials -- far from it -- it is just that viable candidates for both entry-level MBA positions and hourly waged jobs generally have similar experience. Given that employers receive so many applications for these positions, it's almost impossible to deem which candidates should go on to the next stage of the process.

Newman explained that HireVue's platform enables employers to sift through these candidates and find those who seem the most likely to fit. This is an improvement from just reading numerous pieces of paper that list various achievements. So while HireVue doesn't really "disrupt" the entire hiring process, it does make sifting through a million resumes a little bit easier and more systematic. And that's definitely an improvement.

And while the company continues to unroll new versions of its platform, I hope future product iterations will ditch the word "turbocharged."

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]