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Candidate screening service Take the Interview lands $775,000 in funding

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 12, 2011 11:04 AM

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Job-seekers may soon need to develop a new skill to secure their next gig: projecting confidence and competence in front of a Webcam. Cambridge-based Take the Interview, currently conducting a beta test with nearly 200 companies, wants to persuade employers to make more use of video screening as a way to find the gems amidst a pile of promising résumés. And the company has just raised $775,000 in new funds to begin marketing the service more widely.

Founder Danielle Weinblatt started working on the concept during her first year at Harvard Business School, and decided to take a leave after the spring semester to focus on Take the Interview full-time.

"We took the Eric Ries, lean start-up approach," she says. "I went and talked to customers first, and started getting letters-of-intent to use this product I hadn't built yet."

The idea is that companies post a handful questions for certain candidates to answer via video, on their own time. (The videos aren't conducted live.) The site also offers a "question bank" of questions related to job categories like sales or accounting. Two examples: "How have you established priorities to implement a new vision or directive?" and "What is the last book that you read and why did you chose to read it?" Hiring managers can then view the responses, and share them within the organization.

"You might know that someone is a 'no' within the first few minutes of an in-person interview, but you end up spending 30 or 60 minutes talking to them because that's what scheduled," Weinblatt says. "We think that asynchronous video interviewing is a great way for people to save time." Take the Interview's initial focus is on small- and mid-sized businesses who may only be looking to fill 3 or 4 positions at any given time. Pricing starts at $45, which covers filling just one job, but there are monthly plans as well.

Weinblatt participated in the Dreamit Ventures accelerator program in New York over the summer, but the company's six employees are now back in Cambridge, using space at Dogpatch Labs.

The new funding comes entirely from angel investors, though Dreamit Ventures invested alongside them. Weinblatt says she didn't pursue VC investment, since she wasn't sure she wanted to commit to the exit size and timetable that they expect.

"I promised my employees to get them on payroll in September," she says, "and I'm glad we managed to do that." The money will also go toward building a sales and marketing team, attending conferences, creating new features for the site, and developing a mobile app, Weinblatt says.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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