HireArt, a newly launched Y Combinator-backed company, is working to solve a major problem that all employers face today: resumes are bullshit. Job candidates often like to fluff up their experience, and sometimes they even outright lie about their abilities. Other times, potentially great employees are overlooked because they have unorthodox backgrounds that don’t match up with what an employer thinks they need in terms of experience. Sometimes these kinds of things are realized during the in-person interview. Unfortunately for many employers, they often don’t discover how much a particular candidate may have oversold themselves until they’ve been hired and can’t perform to expectations.
With its new applicant screening system, HireArt thinks it may have a solution: have the employees actually do the work first.
Here’s HireArt’s pitch in a nutshell: “You really can’t bullshit anymore.”
That’s per co-founder Elli Sharef, in explaining why the traditional resume system is broken.
Instead of asking applicants to talk about their experience, HireArt has them actually perform a series of tasks. For example, if an interview candidate claims to be an expert in Excel, an employer on HireArt might ask them to create an Excel model using a dataset they provide, then have them upload the completed file. Another employer may instead want to hear a creative’s pitch for a new product.
The idea for the company, founded by Sharef, Dain Lewis and Nicholas Sedlet, three college friends from Yale, was inspired by their own experience in the corporate world, working at large corporations like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and a real estate company.
“We had varied experiences running interviews – some very good, some not so good,” explains Sharef. “We realized there was a need for a better way to interview, and a better way to make sure the candidates we were bringing on board were really the best candidates we could find,” she says. After doing research, the team realized that work samples were the best way to find the right people for the job.
Using HireArt, employers in need of filling a position can choose from HireArt’s online library of predefined templates, or can optionally create their own. Typically around four or five questions are chosen, specific to the job. For example, “create a marketing pitch” or “write out a business plan.” Basically, anything that requires the candidate to actually demonstrate, not just talk about, their skills is a good pick.
Candidates are then sent a link to the questions which they can fill out in their own time. The responses to the questions can include videos, file uploads and text responses, depending on the task. When complete, the employer has the option to review the responses on their own, or they can outsource that task to HireArt instead.
Using the company’s team of graders, which includes college professors and other industry experts working part-time to curate the responses, employers are given a set of top candidates who they could then choose to call in for the in-person interview.
Currently, HireArt has over a dozen clients testing the service to fill positions which include a head of marketing at a Silicon Valley startup, a junior operations manager at a London startup, a Fortune 500 company looking for summer interns, and more.
For the less technically savvy (like Baby Boomers and up), HireArt also provides technical support in using the system. Surprisingly, the company says that they’ve found these candidates are not all that intimidated by the technology, but are grateful for a chance to demonstrate their experience.
“There’s a distortion in the labor market in which some really qualified middle-career people are not employed or are under-employed right now,” Sharef says. These people see HireArt as an opportunity to actually prove their worth and their skills versus their younger counterparts, she explains.
But more importantly, a system like this encourages responses that don’t just involve taking a paper resume and turning it into a video version where a candidate repeats their work history and skill set out loud. This gives employers a chance to really understand the personalities of the candidates, how their minds work, and whether they’re up to the job at hand.
Sharef also notes that another problem with the traditional system is that it’s screening out a lot of the diamonds in the rough. Hiring “A players” is all that should really matter, but it’s often hard to do when you’re focused so much on a candidate’s pedigree (e.g. attended a top university, their previous position titles, etc.).
In the near future, HireArt also plans to further refine their predefined questions based on employer feedback as to how the candidate ended up performing on the job. In the long-term, the data generated by HireArt could even help universities better craft their curriculum to better reflect the real-world needs of employers.
The HireArt system is somewhat similar to another new startup called TakeTheInterview, which allows candidates to answer interview questions on video. While perhaps simpler for the candidates, there’s more work on the employers’ part to actually view all the responses they receive. Plus, candidates are only responding to questions on video - which is just one aspect of HireArt’s service.
Pricing for HireArt is still being handled on a case-by-case basis. Employers can sign up for access here.