This week cloud-based video screening tool Kira Talent announced that it has raised seed funding from Relay Ventures, with participation from over 10 angel investors including Wind Mobile chairman Anthony Lacavera. The company was founded in March 2012 during The Next 36′s startup incubator program, and it helps companies conduct video interviews with potential candidates.
Co-founder Konrad Listwan-Ciesielski, who formerly worked at Montreal’s Nuance and San Francisco’s Minted, said the idea for Kira Talent was inspired by the application process for The Next 36. The startup incubator asked applicants to upload a video to YouTube outlining why they wanted to join, and the program directors said they got less applicants when they added the video requirement, but they were better quality.
“Once you start adding a video component it acts like a hurdle, so it weeds out all the weak applicants and the quality improves overall,” he said in an interview. “You want to get a sneak peek about how the candidate presents themselves, their communication skills, their personality.”
Using Kira Talent, human resources staff or managers can send out a set of video questions to several interviewees, either by recording their own questions or choosing from Kira’s library. They can specify how long a candidate has to think about an answer before responding, which is meant to simulate an in-person interview, and set the length and deadlines for responses. Other customization options include requiring candidates to sign in with LinkedIn, as well as the option to require that candidates submit a resume when they return their answers. Right now employers can only view videos on Kira’s platform, but they’re planning to add the ability to download them.
Hiring managers can send the questions directly to candidates via email, or embed the video interview questions in their online application. Candidates can take a practice interview that features a few general questions, and then record their answers to the specific set of questions using their webcam and send the answers back. Hiring managers can then rank and compare candidates, and get feedback from others at the company.
The company originally wanted to target enterprise customers like large retailers, professional services, and banking companies. Once they started bringing on clients in the summer, the company found a niche with academic institutions, who are using it to screen applicants. Right now customers include the Rotman School of Management and the Richard Ivey School of Business, and the company is in talks with other post-secondary schools around the world. They’re also working with professional services and telecom companies.
Listwan-Ciesielski said Kira is meant to be used as a pre-screening tool, or in addition to existing interview processes, not to replace the full interview process, since he said the ideal video interview is just 3-6 questions. “Going in we never wanted to replace the [in-person] interview…but some of our clients have actually been using it to replace their in-person interviews,” he said, adding that sometimes candidates live hours away from an office, so virtual interviews make more sense. “It depends on the position and the industry.” The company charges per completed video interview, approximately $10-$15 per candidate, and offers volume discounts. They also provide custom branding and feature sets for companies that want to white label the interview process.
There are other companies tackling pre-screening and video interviews, from Cream.hr’s written employee assessment test, to similar video interview platforms like HireVue, which added $22 million in funding for its solution in August 2012, and UK-based enRecruit, which launched its video interview tool in May. Then there are other video-based platforms hiring managers can use to interview, from Skype to Google Hangouts.
Listwan-Ciesielski said Cream.hr’s tool is actually complementary, since hiring managers could filter thousands of candidates using their test and only send video interviews to the final choices, and while he said HireVue and enRecruit have similar platforms, he believes their solution is easier in terms of onboarding clients.
Now working out of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto, Listwan-Ciesielski said they will be building out a mobile version of the site, since employers want access to the platform’s features on the go, and will either be building an HTML5 or native app in the future. They also plan to use the funding to grow the team, adding sales and development staff to bring the team of 5 to 10 or 11 by January 2013. While there are lots of tools trying to innovate the hiring process, from finding candidates to interviewing them using online tools, Kira’s focus on educational institutions could set it apart, and make it a key part of interviewing.