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.
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[Image: Flickr user Brian Bennett]