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Expanding the Online Application Process

Chicago-based Rivs is among a growing field of businesses offering voice and video interviewing technology that is far ahead of what many traditional recruiting systems provide.

October 4, 2012

After taking in hundreds of applications for some positions at his fast-growing startup company, David Wieland was overwhelmed by how time-consuming and cumbersome the recruiting process could be. For some jobs he'd get 1,000 applications, and he has only 12 employees to narrow down the pile.

Once Wieland found the best candidates, many wouldn't even call in for scheduled phone interviews at Innflux, a Chicago-based company that operates public-use Wi-Fi networks for hotels. Frustrated, Wieland asked his software designers to come up with a better solution, and his new business—Rivs—was born. After recently selling Innflux, Wieland turned his attention to Chicago-based Rivs, which he officially launched in May 2011.

Rivs allows employers to quickly narrow down candidates for positions that can generate hundreds or even thousands of applicants. Job seekers can fill out a simple questionnaire online, helping to screen out unqualified applicants. From there, a team of interviewers can access an online interface to manage all the top applicants in one place. The system schedules live voice and video interviews of applicants that can be reviewed at any time that's convenient for the hiring managers. Within weeks, the candidates with the best scores can be invited back to the final phase of interviewing.

Wieland's company is among a growing field of businesses offering similar voice and video interviewing technology that is far ahead of what many traditional recruiting systems provide.

"Video is probably the most dynamic new tool in recruiting," agrees Neal Bruce, vice president of product management for Peoplefluent, a software design firm based in Massachusetts. "Video is a way to get at the human elements that are hard to pick up in other ways. Often, you'll hear a manager say, 'I need to listen to them and see how they interact with the questions,' " which is why he believes video "is one of the hottest new techniques."

Wieland figures the field of companies offering video and voice automation options will grow tremendously in the next several years. "I know this is going to be commonplace, especially for positions that really garner several hundred to thousands of applicants. The companies are going to have to do something like this to stay competitive," he says.

Still, even some of automation's biggest fans say it has some limitations as a screening tool. Mike Grabenstein, the new co-CEO at Innflux, is a big fan of Rivs as a major screening tool for jobs with lots of applicants. He says the other features of Rivs have also been helpful, such as the automated screening and rating system his employees use to share feedback on candidates, and the ability to schedule and record live voice, video and in-person interviews through the system.

But for senior-level positions, Grabenstein says he limits the screening questions and prior phone and video interviews, fearing that some sought-after candidates might be turned off by the process and even shy away from applying for a position because of it.

"I just see the efficiency gains being greatest with the high volume positions," Grabenstein says. "It's just great for the organization and collaboration it provides."

Meg McSherry Breslin is a writer based in the Chicago area. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

Workforce Management, October 2012, p. 36 -- Subscribe Now!