OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Interviews for humans...not robots.

A platform that helps candidates and employers to humanise interviews and ensure both get the most out of the process. Everyone hates interviews - the interviewer and the interviewee. They feel like an obstacle course, full of trick questions and surprises. Nerves mean no one acts themselves and the forced questions become a rigid chore rather than a natural conversation. From the invite to interview to the interview outcome, this platform makes the process easy to manage, more personal and helps both candidate and employer to find a real match. It includes scheduling functions, profiles of interviewers, information on interview format and a "reveal" of questions so everyone is prepared and able to shine.

Photo of Sarah Owusu
39 21

Written by

Interviews don't work... I have been on both sides of the interview table and believe me, no one likes it! Interviews should not be a dark art - they should be an opportunity for both sides to have a great conversation and get a deeper understanding about the fit; they should allow both the recruiting organisation and the candidate to show their best side.

Update 20Aug: See images for a sample current interview process with some of the thoughts/feelings the candidate and interviewer are having to express some of the potential painpoints and opportunities for improvement.

This platform will:
- Remove some interview nerves by co-creating the interview questions
- Make preparation for the interview easier and more relevant
- Ensure the interview timeline and format are more transparent
- Simplify the logistics of the interview process 

From the moment a company decides it wants to interview a job applicant, they send a link to the platform and the interaction begins here.

The features of the application
- Update 15Sep: An online-dating inspired matching service that connects employers and candidates for initial screening (upload CVs and profiles, browse jobs and "wink" at employers)
- A congratulations and warm welcome from the recruiter so you already begin to put names to faces
- Information about the interview format, the full job description and company details
- Profiles of the interviewers (including more personal facts) so you get a feel for the human you are meeting
- A scheduling function that helps you organise / select the best time slots for both parties (notoriously difficult to juggle)
- A space for co-creation of interview questions allowing both sides to prep and gather really relevant answers, as well as an option to add questions you would like to answer. Update 20Sep: Could also include pre-interview assignments that emulate the job tasks, environment and activities. This would both give a candidate an understanding of the job and give them time to prepare how they would demonstrate their suitability to the work.
- Update 15Sep: a space for recruiters and candidates to share Hints & Tips on the interview process
- Feedback on the interview from both sides to ensure contiunous improvement

Update 20Aug: See images for a little drawing of what some of the features could look like if imaginary Jim at imaginary Int. Corp was interviewing imaginary Anya.

What are the next steps for implementing this idea?

1. Refinement of process (including better understanding of screening and in-interview stage) 2. Testing stages on real life interview process 3. Create matching algorithm for matching candidates and companies (needs tech support!) 4. Design and build platform 5. Spread the word Update 15Sep: INTERESTED IN HEARING FROM THE COMMUNITY: Anyone able to build a mock-up or wire-frame version of this to test out?

Briefly describe a user scenario which illustrates the specific need that your idea is trying to solve.

From the feedback, there seems to be agreement that this would be a useful tool, especially for small organisations. I have expanded my original scenario by building a use scenario for Jim, a Campaign Manager and in this case also the recruiting manager, from a small non-profit organisation. Without HR support or a company process, he uses the platform to guide him through (see uploaded visual).

Complete a User Experience Map. This will help you visualize how a potential end user will interact with your idea. Once you have completed it, upload it using the Upload File button at the end of this form. PDF files preferred.

  • Completed

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This could be used by any employer and any candidate with access to the internet. I imagine the platform is most relevant for SMEs who don't already have an online recruitment portal. It benefits both the interviewer and interviewee by helping them through the logistics and preparatory considerations needed to run a good interview. Update 20Aug: Having done recruitment for a number of SMEs, I know that these organisations rarely have a recruitment procession place, limited or no access to HR support and often hire younger / less experienced candidates. With helpful hints and tips, a more inclusive approach and clear steps to follow this platform ensures that important parts aren't missed. It also allows for a fair process, with all candidates having the same framework yet allowing for individual input. Thoughts on who might fund such a platform?

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

Although this could be used for anyone, it is youth that are most disadvantaged by the "traditional" interview process because they aren't familiar with the "etiquette" of interviews, so information about format takes out some of the fear factor. For example, knowing who you will be meeting (and a reminder that they are human) and what the company dress code is means you can relax and focus on more important preparation. Further, less experienced interviewees don't often take the opportunity to ask lots of questions about the company, it's culture and the job - this encourages them to think these through and to upload them in advance so the employer can gather a meaningful answer. Perhaps this could expand to be a job listing / job matching platform too that focuses specifically on young people - thoughts from you all? Update 15Sep: Following great feedback from a recruiter in India, and my own experience of working in Africa, a concern was raised about how to gain access to candidates and their networks. There could be an opportunity here to create an app for the platform that links to social media etc to make this more accessible and social in nature. I am also thinking that in Africa, EVERYONE has a mobile phone (but often a very basic one) and as such there has been a lot of innovation in using text messages for money transfers, knowledge exchange and campaigns. Perhaps, there is an opportunity to send text updates of job listing to remote youth once a job is posted on the platform. And also to use text to invite youth to relevant job fairs in local towns. This might gain access to a group of people that isn't often targeted or accessible. Thoughts on this welcome.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Hold a series of conversations of "mock interviews" - some where participants have had a chance to see interview topics and questions in advance (or even co-create them), and others where they don't. Objective would be to establish whether people: - Feel less nervous as a result of having time to prepare - Are able to give a fuller picture of themselves as a result - Want to add questions to those they would normally be asked Also, could do some focus groups about what the most annoying, complicated, nerve-wracking, etc aspects of the interview process are for people.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Questions for the OpenIDEO community: - What's the best format for something like this - an online platform, an app...other? - Should the platform expand to other parts of the recruitment process? - How would you improve this idea? - How do you integrate the "values" match and get more of the qualitative aspects of recruiting into this platform? - What are your experiences of good and bad interviews? - ...any other thoughts?

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to be involved in prototyping but need partners at some stage
View more

Team (3)

Sarah's profile
Christin's profile
Christin Parma

Role added on team:

"Great insight from the perspective of the candidate - how can we make the process more relevant to a candidate? what would help to take away any feelings of inadequacy? what would make it easier to match job descriptions to experience and education of candidates?"

Dave's profile
Dave Zinsman

Role added on team:

"How could you take this further? Would it benefit from including other parts of the recruitment process ie. screening CVs? What might some of the challenges be?"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aparna Bhasin

Hi Sarah,

I am really excited by your idea as I do a lot of hiring, and it would definitely improve my experience. I work in the development sector in India, and with many organizations there isn't usually an HR department available, and even if there is they often don't manage the hiring process. I thought perhaps I could highlight some quick thoughts from my experience with interviewing and hiring youth...

1) It is hard to reach out to youth here unless you have access to some of their networks, which a lot of people who hire just don't, and as a result a lot of young people who would be a good fit for the job just never hear about it. I'm not sure this is relevant to the platform, but is a big challenge that we often face.

2) I've found that tackling an assignment, something that emulates what the job would entail, really helps both in identifying good candidates, and putting them at ease during the inerview. If we send the assignment out before hand, it gives candidates a chance to see if they are interested in the type of work they will be doing; and also allows you to focus on their thought process in the interview without asking abstract questions.

Additionally, I am at the beginning stage of hiring 3-4 new people on the team, and would be happy to try out parts of your idea!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Aparna and Sarah!
I agree Sarah's idea has loads of potential!

Aparna your comment about lack of access to youth is so surprising and relevant to this challenge. Wow! What a missed opportunity. Much of the discussion during the challenge has been lack of access to networks by youth, particularly youth in low income communities. Hearing that employers do not have access to youth networks is very concerning. How do youth find out about jobs in India? Do you have any ideas on how this situation can change?

I posted an idea for this challenge that might interest you. I posted a comment below to share it with Sarah and she posted a comment on the idea as well. If you have time check it out. The PreInterview - A New Stage to the path to employment. It is an idea to create an opportunity for applicants to express themselves so that employers can "see" them in a way that current recruiting tools may not afford. It is an opportunity for employers to observe and assess applicants, to gain information on an applicant's thought process, based on an exercise of observation, collaboration, and reflection at the work site, prior to the personal interview itself.

Excited to watch as your idea evolves and develops Sarah!

Photo of Sarah Owusu

Hi Aparna (and Bettina : thanks for staying connected)

Thanks for the feedback! If you are up for it then the main thing I would like tested is the idea of a pre-planned interview questions or as in your idea, job-specific assignments that candidates can prepare for in advance. Your thoughts on this from experience, or if you want to test it out in you coming hiring process then I would love to hear how it goes.

In terms of reaching the right people and access to the right networks... I echo that. I work a lot in Africa, and a huge part of the community is inaccessible so gets overlooked. Again, like Bettina, I would like to hear how you overcome this challenge? In Africa, EVERYONE uses mobile devices, but not necessarily smartphones - as such there has been a lot of innovation in text services that can be used by very basic mobiles...perhaps there is a way to integrate this? A text service to young mobile users when jobs are posted, text message invites to recruitment style fairs in the local towns...?

Stay connected and good luck with your recruiting, Sarah :)

Photo of Sarah Owusu

You might both like to have a look at my 15 Sep update above to this question: How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?
I include my thoughts in response to your thought-provokers... S.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great discussion, guys! Sarah, regarding mobile job portals – have you seen Babajobs? Was posted to our Research phase: and seems to be finding success in mobile job listings in India. It's more focused on jobs which are traditionally in the informal sector – but there may be some learnings from their approach:

Photo of Sarah Owusu

Nice pull Meena - that needs to spread to the African continent!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

I was pointed in the direction of this author/communications expert by a friend who volunteers at a pre college program in an inner city young woman's leadership high school in NYC. She volunteers with her workplaces's community outreach program. One topic covered at a recent event looked at some tools in this book - "Brag..." - by Peggy Klaus. I was curious so went to her website. I found this post on her blog which has many tips on interview prep for "millenials." Do you plan to include tips for youth as they prepare for the interview process in general?

Photo of Aparna Bhasin

Hi Sarah (and Bettina & Meena)

I'm sorry it took me a while to respond to the various comments....

I am conducting phone interviews for candidates next week as they are scattered all over the country (which I often find even more daunting than in person interviews) and will send out pre-planned questions and let you know how it goes.

Thanks for sharing - I had read about babajobs in the news earlier this year - great way to integrate the much used mobile phone!

My comment about reaching youth perhaps is more specific to the development sector - a lot of small not-for-profit organizations that could do with the energy and motivation of young fresh people but are often unaware of how to reach them (because of the lack of youth employees to start with). It is a strange problem because in my experience there is interest from both sides but somehow a disconnect in between....

Will be in touch soon, post the interviews.

Photo of Meena Kadri

A challenge indeed, Aparna – which presents lots of opportunities! Feel free to add updates from your end over on our newly added Impact phase when you're ready: We're always keen to hear how folks are taking forward ideas (or parts of ideas) generated by others on OpenIDEO – and the impact they're achieving.

Is there an online forum / website in India that attracts youth interested in the development sector? If not, that seems like a great opportunity for someone right there! Possibly not what you're wanting to do personally – but could certainly invigorate the sector if someone put their mind to centralising young hearts and minds in this way.

View all comments