Why We Need a New Way to Interview
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Going "freelance" is a rapidly growing employment status, representing $1.35 trillion in annual earnings in 2022.
I'd hire writers, editors, producers, woodworkers, painters, cinematographers, production assistants, coordinators, directors, animators, and so on. For two years, I too was a freelancer. It’s a tough way to work, constantly seeking new work, always something more one can be doing weekday, weekend, night—networking, updating a portfolio, online classes, managing personal finances and accounting. It’s also a difficult way to hire. Most projects require a new set of job listings, dozens of interviews, and when the role still doesn’t get filled, reaching out to colleagues from your rolodex for recommendations.
I primarily know the film and advertising industry, but as far as I can tell, there are only a few databases (of varying quality and inclusion) offering listings of potential candidates for your needs, whether a creative or skilled labor role. Beyond the systems in place for short-term, one-off work (Upwork, Fiverr, Task Rabbit), there doesn’t seem to be a central driver for connecting short-term employers with short-term employees. With a bit of machine learning, integrated portfolios, and regularly updated schedules from employers and employees, the hiring process could be vastly expedited.
But the more innovative idea is audio.
When I was a hiring manager, I would have a phone call with every prospective employee, often taking calls with both experienced and inexperienced candidates as a way to give more people at least first-round opportunity. The next step would be a Zoom call with a couple other people from my team—a more formal conversational interview. For most roles, this was enough to decide. For bigger roles, like directors, I would typically send a prompt for a brief "pitch proposal" from top candidates, encouraging them to spend just a little bit of time on the write-up. This was our way to gauge their ideas given more time than a brief 30 minute conversation.
My concept would cut out at least the first stage here, and also open the door to many more candidates. Instead of asking candidates to upload a resume and portfolio, a job listing on this app would provide a description of the job, some prerequisites, and ask for a verbal response to two principal questions:
(1) Please describe your most recent relevant work experience and why you think you would be a good fit for this role.
(2) [Any follow-up question the hiring manager chooses.]
In addition to their recorded answers, they can feel free to share up to three relevant portfolio examples, and verified quotes of recommendation.
Lastly, it would be anonymous, removing demographic information such as name, gender, education level, and zip code.
So, why audio?
(1) Audio is easy for the candidate. It can be recorded on-the-go, directly on a phone, without requiring any external paperwork to submit to a role.
(2) Audio is easy for the hiring manager. I can listen to 20 candidates' answers in the time it takes to interview one, and get approximately the same preliminary information.
(3) The hiring manager gets an immediate sense of the candidates technical knowledge, communication style, and interest in a role.
(4) Audio must be completed by the candidate. Anyone can fake a resume or portfolio, but (most) people can't fake a voice.
Hiring for part-time, high turnover, creative, and seasonal work is more common than ever. I think we can find efficiencies for all parties, which would help broaden and anonymize the candidate pool, as well as encourage candidates to be more thoughtful in which jobs they apply to, thus resulting in more interviews, less hiring fatigue, and ideally less machine learning involved in the applicant review process.