"Do You Believe In Aliens?" GetHired Lets You Ask Applicants Anything

Well-chosen questions and video pre-screening can save you massive amounts of time hiring, says Suki Shah, founder of GetHired.

Suki Shah is the founder of GetHired, a hiring platform that should help you avoid job interviews like these. We caught up with Shah to learn about how video pre-screening and the occasional oddball question can have a helpful winnowing effect for your hiring process.

FAST COMPANY: You got the idea for your startup while founding another startup.

SUKI SHAH: I started my first company in 2009, a disease management company. We were growing quickly. I was 24, and I had never hired anyone before. It was taking me four to five weeks just to make one hire, and I thought, "Gosh, there’s got to be another way." We created a solution that we started using in-house, that took down our time-to-hire by over 90%. Then I gave that tech to my healthcare clients, their HR departments, and they loved it. I said, "Gosh, I’m onto something here. If we’re gonna do this, let’s do it right." My brother took over the disease management company and I moved to Silicon Valley with GetHired.com. We raised $1.75 million in seed funding and now we’re rocking and rolling.

How does GetHired work?

It’s a complete hiring solution for businesses. We allow you not only to post jobs but to ask very specific pre-interview questions. You can ask them to answer brain teasers, or to answer questions via audio and video. Then you can quickly distill which candidates are best for the job. To do that through our platform only costs $25. On CareerBuilder, to post one job costs $417. The whole idea is to focus and provide this as a solution for small businesses.

Why is video pre-screening so helpful?

It’s especially helpful for client-facing, customer-facing jobs, like sales.

Do you find anyone submitting Elle Woods-style, overproduced application videos?

We haven’t seen that. Most of our employers are limiting video responses to less than one minute. They want to quickly gauge, did they take the time, how polished they are. It’s cool: You’ll see people who’ve recorded videos at 1:30 a.m., and they put full suits on. That really says a lot about a person.

So they’ll be bleary-eyed, but in a three-piece suit?

Oh, it’s been incredible! We’ve had many employers say, we would have passed on this person if we had just seen a resume, but because they did a video, we connected with that candidate. When I was hiring for a sales job at the other company, we’d have 500 people apply for a job. All we cared about was, is this person reasonably intelligent, and how do they sound over the phone? So we had them do two questions: a simple math brainteaser, and then we asked them to dial an 800 number and read a script. Out of 500 people that applied, guess how many both got the right math questions and read the script? Thirty. I was able to go through those 30 people in 15 minutes, pick the two best, and they’ve been with the company for the last two years.

It sounds a bit like something the Joker would have Batman do, "Solve this puzzle and then call this number..." What are the weirdest questions that have cropped up on your site?

Last week, one employer asked, "If you were an insect, which insect would you be, and why?" Another asked, "Tell us about our life from kindergarten till today in 60 seconds." Another was, "Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?"

This interview has been condensed and edited.

For more from the Fast Talk interview series, click here. Know someone who'd make a good Fast Talk subject? Mention it to David Zax.

[Image: Flickr user Brian Bennett]

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  • Guest

    This is absolutely ridiculous. GetHired encourages BUSINESSES to ask the kind of questions 14-year-olds ask on Yahoo! Answers? Since when does "do you believe in aliens" have anything to do with sales? Is there no end to this Facebook culture of banal stupidity? This sounds like the kind of crap you get on security questions when signing up for an email account. "What's your favorite food? Who's your favorite celeb? Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?"

    Give. Me. A. Break. Or as the people who founded these fly-by-night startups are eventually going to say, "you deserve a break today." Sheesh.

    "We’ve had many employers say, we would have passed on this person if we
    had just seen a resume, but because they did a video, we connected with
    that candidate."

    What if the reverse happens, if a company passes on a candidate because their video sucks even though their resume clearly demonstrates s/he would be a stellar employee? Sounds like the kind of people who think your social marketing staff should only hire high school interns, as one (ahem) high school intern infamously said:


    Only in an Obama-nation (read: abomination) would "personality" be more important than actual experience. These idiot hipsters with their lattes and their smartphones and their glittery Tumblr pages (and their worthless "liberal arts" degrees) have no idea whatsoever about how to run a business. A Kindergarten class, maybe. But not a Fortune 500 company.

    Vote Romney '12. He'll weed out the chaff, and probably 99% of the antisocial Zuckertards in Silicon Valley like this moron at GetHired, who don't know how to relate to people in context and brand their quirky, Comic-Con, Assburger's "derpitude" as "the next wave of innovation" will be facing the sales crowd at McDonalds. "I can has cheeseburger"? Yup, that's about all you're going to have. Idiots.

  • Kitalanya Celeste

    First, what does this have to do with politics? And since when has the president's job been to close small businesses?

    Secondly, you are assuming that this is geared towards CEOs and Fortune 500 companies. In those positions, yes, experience is critical. However, there are a lot of other levels of hiring that are done online. A cheaper way to screen inexperienced applicants is ideal for a lot of jobs out there that take online applications. I worked in HR for a retail establishment when I was younger, and we would literally get over a hundred applications for each position. It would often be a position where you didn't really need a lot of experience, so we would be more interested in quick, bright people who could think on their feet and relate to the customers than how long someone had been working in retail. A recent college grad who is well spoken, cheerful, and has good work ethic is going to do better than someone who's operated a cash register for 4 years, but is taciturn and rude.

    On top of that, even in the upper ends of business, personality matters. Managers and Executives who can relate to their customers/clients, and their staff are going to do better than people who lack social skills in most industries. I don't think the goal of this is to ignore what is on the resume; it's more a matter of supplementing it and making it so that instead of interviewing 100 people, you only have to interview the best 20.

  • JaneDoe99

    "What if the reverse happens, if a company passes on a candidate because
    their video sucks even though their resume clearly demonstrates s/he
    would be a stellar employee?"

    Since you couldn't figure that one out on your own (an need it explained) that would be due to the candidate hiring a competent writer to polish the resume, then subsequently displaying an obvious lack of skills.

    Next time you decide to post, I hope you have the forethought to edit (READ: delete) the irrelevant, off-topic portions.

  • Tim

    The question "Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?" could be very revealing. It really would bring to light how knowledgeable a person is on basic science and reveal their ability to apply their reasoning skills to an abstract problem. It might also reveal how imaginative they are. This is a question that I would ask any for any technical or creative position. I don't think that it has much to do with sales, so I don't understand why the previous commentator would imply as much.

    Someone with a good understanding of biology would probably say "yes", but I'll leave you wondering why if you don't already know.


  • Jambu Shambu

    I was at an in face interview when I got a "what kind of insect would you be" type question. I said thanks for your time and walked out. I wouldn't want to work for a company that cares what kind of insect I'd be.

  • Kitalanya Celeste

    They don't care what type of insect you would be, or if you believe in Aliens, or whatever else they ask that is weird. They care what you do when faced with unexpected questions, your creativity, and how you explain things. It's like when you get writing tests in school and they ask what you want to be when you grow up. They don't care what you want to be; they are testing your writing. Same idea.

  • Guest

    It's probably not about the actual substance of the answer (unless it were truly horrific) but rather if someone can take a confusing topic and give an articulate and thoughtful answer.

  • Guest

    “If you were an insect, which insect would you be, and why?”  helps how?  How do you weed out illegal questions?  This just sounds like a normal job board.  An employer can post a job on monster and ask users to submit a question form also...

  • NedK

     The one asking the question need not be intelligent but is assumed to be in this scenario.

  • Daniel D

    Agreed. I'm sure there's some sort of clue to a persons personality if one person says Slug and the other says Butterfly... but certainly nothing that would influence my decision on who I hire. I get the concept here, but that's a piss-poor example.