2020 Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs, Powered by Techstars Company
Amay Sheth knows the anxiety of job hunting. Working at a hedge fund in New York, he routinely slipped out of the office for chats with recruiters. He was already nervous about wearing a suit to work and didn’t want the process of finding a new job to jeopardize his current one.
“I’d meet with recruiters and answer the same 20 questions,” he recalled. “When I returned, my co-workers would jokingly ask why I had to go to the doctor again. It was so clear what I was doing. It was a horrible candidate experience.”
The hiring process is taxing on recruiters as well. They spend two-thirds of their days interviewing candidates and say the entire cycle — from scheduling to hiring — typically takes three to four weeks.
Sheth wondered why he couldn’t just answer common questions on video. He could record them outside his normal workday, and wouldn’t have to repeat himself. Hiring managers could save time by preloading questions, quickly cycling through candidate videos, and making faster decisions.
It led Sheth and cofounders Jacob Ley and Jimmy Zhang to launch Showcase, a platform using short-form video to give companies instant insight about a jobseeker’s personality and strengths. Showcase features public profiles and candidate video answers, empowering recruiters to see five times more applicants while eliminating scheduling headaches.
Unique Job Market Needs a Showcase
COVID-19 conditions have increased the number of job seekers. Showcase eases the bottleneck.
“With historically high unemployment, job openings will have hundreds or potentially thousands of applicants and far fewer recruiters to screen them,” said Sheth. “Our platform reduces the time-to-hire because we have the profile and the first-round interview in one place.”
The Showcase team is ready to take its platform to the next level by joining the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. For 13 weeks, they’ll receive mentorship from Comcast executives and learn from the talented Techstars network of entrepreneurs. The team will refine its business models and perfect business pitches to venture capitalists and clients.
Ley joined Showcase after a very different job interview experiences from Sheth’s. A developer by trade, he used Triplebyte, a platform that tests each candidate’s engineering skills, then matches them with tech employers.
“It was way better than sending resumes into the void,” said Jacob. “If you can showcase someone’s talents in an aggregated way, it makes the recruiting process much smoother for everyone. And that got me excited to make a difference in the space for everyone, not just developers.”
Zhang, also a software engineer, joined Showcase for the chance to build something from the ground up.
“I’ve always gravitated to smaller companies where I have more responsibility and impact on the end product,” he said. “If you’re at a bigger company, you’re likely working on something that might not see the light of day for months or years.”
Traction for Showcase has been solid. In a beta test, Showcase signed on 11 companies. Nearly 500 candidates have shared 3,200 video answers. And, that’s just the beginning.
Hiring managers simply share a link to the job opening on Showcase. Applicants create profiles and answer questions via video. Those who don’t get the position remain on the platform and are automatically candidates for other open positions.
Showcase attracts candidates to the platform one open position at a time. The growing community of qualified candidates leads to an influx of new employers eager to scroll through candidate videos. As the flywheel turns, more candidates and companies will see Showcase as the go-to place for quick, quality recruiting.
Bias, Blind Spots Begone
Recruiting can be biased — even if a company has the best of intentions. One form of bias stems from a non-diverse pipeline of talent. Showcase encourages diversity by providing companies with detailed demographic information so they can cast a wider net.
“Our candidates can self-identify gender, race, and ethnicity, allowing us to educate employers about their pipelines to ensure they are diverse,” said Ley.
Another problem is affinity bias — having a more favorable opinion of someone who looks and acts like you. A hiring manager might prefer a candidate who went to the same school, grew up in the same neighborhood, and shares other commonalities. Showcase’s video method eliminates that blind spot. Rather than starting with getting-to-know-you chit-chat, the hiring manager watches a candidate answer a specific question, creating a direct apples-to-apples comparison with other candidates.
Each answer is timed, so candidates can’t rehearse. “We don’t want just the most charismatic candidates to land jobs,” said Sheth. “By adding a time element, we help the best people rise to the top.”