Tech startups are changing the way workers are screened and hired

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Tech startups are changing the way workers are screened and hired:

Recruiters, who have transformed the corporate hiring landscape for the past 20 years, are touted for their ability to sift through candidates. But as more jobs require sitting in front of a screen, many recruiters are in a technology fog, which alienates gifted candidates. While they can ask potential hires whether they know certain programs, recruiters in the technology space often can’t assess what the applicants know. “They can’t tell the difference between the competent ones and the stars,” said Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, an early stage venture firm in Mountain View, Calif.
In a hiring climate in which companies find talented workers by seeing how they already perform, the RethinkDB founders turned to sites like and, where programmers collaborate and work on special projects. “You can see the code being written and how technically accurate they are,” said Glukhovsky, who inhabits a world where 95 percent of coders can’t complete basic computer-science tasks. Now, a few months from releasing their first product, RethinkDB is up to six people, a mix of full-timers and interns, both senior and junior.
Video is another underused tool. Screening candidates between the resume and the interview can help solve the “looks good on paper” problem, in which someone appears for an interview and it is clear that the candidate isn’t right for the job. A handful of Bay Area startups, such as Airbnb, a person-to-person site for finding a place to stay while traveling, have started using HireHive, a Y Combinator-funded company that offers monthly plans to pre-screen applicants on video. Another startup, RoundPegg, funded by TechStars, a seed-stage investment firm, assesses how a candidate will fit into the culture of a workplace. A series of short surveys and analysis by an organizational psychologist can tell the hirer whether an applicant will have a problem with the manager or team.


  1. David Foster says:

    Why is this new? “Technology” and “software” are not synonyms: there are complex bodies of knowledge in electrical and mechanical engineering, in manufacturing, etc, and not too many recruiters have great depth of knowledge in these fields either.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I don’t think the need is new; I think the ability to find and evaluate software engineers by their handiwork online is what’s new.

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