A few columns ago I discussed the use of new technologies that could extend the reach of recruiters, lessen the need for staff focused on administrative tasks, and provide candidates with richer and more useful information. Even though we have a brief lull in the talent war, when the battles resume we will once again be faced with the complex process of setting up interviews and scheduling candidates to meet with many managers. One of the most time consuming and clumsy processes in recruiting is scheduling interviews with multiple people. Generally this requires the recruiter or his assistant to make numerous phone calls to see if managers are free at particular times on specific days and then to coordinate this with the candidate. In my experience, as much as a week may be lost simply in scheduling the interviews. And even though candidates are used to a clumsy and time consuming scheduling process, a way to gain a competitive advantage and break away from the pack is to find a way to automate it. Blake Mann, an ex-engineer turned software developer, has created a company and a product that has the potential to change the whole process. His company, Schedulebynet, is not alone in this space (see below), but Blake clearly recognizes that the recruiting process could benefit from automated scheduling. His product would allow a recruiter to publish his schedule for interviews on the Internet. A candidate could access the calendar after being given a password that would enable her to find and set up a mutually suitable meeting time. It would send confirmations to both parties and could also send reminders at intervals that each person sets up. The software would also allow the recruiter to create a web-based survey to be sent to the candidate after an interview to determine how satisfied they were with the process and with the interview itself. The best way to use this scheduling capability is to integrate it into the recruiting website. I imagine a candidate going through an upfront screening process where they have answered questions or taken a test that determines base capabilities and interest in moving forward. Ideally a candidate has learned about the positions available and has been taken through a well-designed “tour” of a particular position, complete with day-in-the-life scenarios and other marketing material. They have also been asked to answer questions about themselves, their experience, their skills, and their availability. Some sites may have asked people to take skills or aptitude tests before moving on in the process. Up to this point, the candidate has been interacting only with the website and the material that is available there. In a well-designed site, there would be a feedback stream to the candidate letting them know how they are doing and whether or not they will move on with the process. This feedback can be both passive and active. Passive feedback occurs when they are asked if they would like to move to the next step in the process, the assumption being that if they were not suitable they would not be asked. It is more productive, however, to provide active feedback where you give them specific information about their progress through the steps in the website. For example, you might have the website ask a series of questions, and at the end of the series let the candidate know that they have done well and that you would like them to consider providing more information or answer more questions. At some point you could indicate that you would like to invite them in for an interview. If your website were this sophisticated today (and I haven’t seen any yet), you would most likely let the candidate know that you would call them to set up interviews. At this point, automation would end and everything would “go manual.” However, with a tool such as the one provided by Schedulebynet you could now automatically invite them to schedule their own interviews. You could provide the names of those with whom you would like them to interview and they could be given access to those people’s pre-established calendars. The candidate would not get a blank check to schedule any time he wanted. Rather he is limited to the dates and times that have already been set up by the hiring managers and recruiters. There are many ways to apply this scheduling application to the recruiting process, and the price is reasonable. The basic fee is around $50 per month for multiple users. As of today, Blake does not have a turnkey recruiting solution available, but he and his team are ready to customize something for an interested organization. Customization costs would be fairly small as the programming is not complex. I also see that one of the applicant tracking systems might decide to license this software and incorporate it into its offering. As I mentioned earlier, Schedulebynet is not the only player in this area. In fact, scheduling software seems to be a concept whose time has come, as there are at least three other competitors that I know of, and maybe more. Some of the other firms include:
Schedulebynet, with its flexible and simple structure and the available of plug-in applications such as survey tools make it a good choice for the recruiting function.