Dan Finnigan
CEO Filtered Follow

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 277. Today we’ll be talking to Dan from Filtered about the use case or business case for why his customers choose Filtered.

Filtered reinvents how leading brands evaluate technical talent, while empowering candidates to showcase their skills from anywhere.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.

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Show length: 31 minutes

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Announcer:

Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast. A show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better. As we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment in HR Tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

 

William Tincup:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Dan on from Filtered and we are learning about the use case or the business case, the cost benefit analysis, however you want to phrase it, of why his prospects and customers choose Filtered. So let’s just jump right in. Dan, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Filtered?

 

Dan:

Oh, sure, happy to. Nice talking to you, William.

 

William Tincup:

Sure.

 

Dan:

It’s been while. So Filtered is a company started a few years ago. I joined a year ago as the CEO. It’s kind of my second time joining a very early stage startup. I did the same thing in 2008 when I was the 10th employee at Jobvite and became the CEO. And here I was the 20th employee at Filtered on becoming the CEO. And I love startups. I like working with companies that move fast and can make big things happen and that’s what I want to share with you about. Filtered is a skills-based hiring platform. What excited me about the company is they pioneered coding simulations to automate the interview process of software engineers. But I joined a year ago, not just because of their leadership there, but also because we were working on a cloud simulation capability dramatically expanding the reach of the product. And what with Filtered, think of it as you can automate and streamline the hiring process by offering candidates customized auto scored job simulations. The benefit is it’s the qualified candidates who get moved on into the process.

Candidates, I’m sure you’ve heard over the years, you and I have both heard over the years really despise assessment tests. They don’t really learn anything about the job. Everyone thinks feels good about assessment tests in the process except the candidates themselves. They don’t feel like they learn anything about the job. It’s busy work and it doesn’t allow them to showcase their capabilities the way Filtered does. This is, to me, it really felt after being away for a year and a half, the world kind of changed. We had a pandemic, remote work became not a benefit, but the default working relationship between professionals in the company. And to me this just seemed like the natural way to evolve the candidate interview and evaluation process.

 

William Tincup:

So for the audience edification, we’re talking about technical talent. And so when you talk about putting them into a kind of coding exercises and especially cloud simulation, one of the things I love about this is they get to learn about themselves as well. They get to get with, when you mentioned the assessment earlier, you and I have the exact same take on this bit, but it’s like it’s one sided. The company learns of it, if it’s personality or behavioral or whatever the bid is, they learn about you, but you don’t learn anything as a candidate. You don’t learn anything about yourself. Whereas with a coding simulation or a cloud simulation, I get to learn what the company’s doing, their environment, whatever that may be, if it’s AWS and whatever the bid is, I get to learn what they’re using and then do an exercise inside of that. But I also get to learn a little bit about myself.

 

Dan:

That’s exactly right. And when you do surveys of candidates, and as you know at Jobvite we had an annual survey of both companies, hiring managers and recruiters on one side, but also an annual survey of candidates. And I learned a lot over the years about what is it that candidates like and don’t about the process and there’s more what they don’t like and what they like and they have to invest a lot of time filling out applications, sending out applications. We’ve always heard about the black hole of, I send an application but I never hear anything back. And when they do hear something back, then they get an assessment test that doesn’t, again teach them anything about what the job would be like. And to your point, that doesn’t really teach them anything about themselves as well. This is like sending a candidate a actual company laptop, all loaded up with the software they would use on the job.

 

William Tincup:

Right. What’s fascinating about that, Dan, is there’s no shock at all. This is, like okay, this is what you’re going to be using instead of a recruiter kind of trying to describe this, that and the other. It’s like, no, this is what you’re going to be using.

 

Dan:

Yeah. And you know what, if you think about it, maybe one of the things candidates really, really took seriously in any job interview was when they would drive to an interview, they get a sense of what the commute would be like. They walk up to the building and they get a sense, start immediately getting a sense of the culture of the company because of the receptionist and where they’re asked to sit and wait for the candidate shows up for the interview. And is the interview on time or not on time? And does the person interviewing them know what coding is like? Are they just someone from HR who’s trying to figure out whose worth passing on for the next round of technical interviews? And this is different. This actually gets you a sense of what the work would be like because you’re going to be doing it in all likelihood from your home office.

You’re not going to be in a building with the other employees. Instead, you’re going to be talking to them over Zoom or Microsoft Teams or what have you. And so being able to simulate the actual job and simulate the actual work that you would have on the first day in the job it’s like the best thing you could do for a candidate. They will self-select themselves in or out based on their experience, which means then that your hiring managers are interviewing people who truly are qualified to do the job and also have self qualified themselves that they want to do the job.

 

William Tincup:

Well, you know it seems like a better experience for everybody involved, for the sources that are finding this talent, for the recruiters that are talking this talent, for hiring managers, it seems like you just said they’re going to love this because again, they don’t have to describe the job. They can just put you into a simulation and then you see, you filter in and filter out if you like that job, and the candidate, everybody wins with this.

 

Dan:

Yeah, I mean job descriptions, let’s be honest they’re marketing documents that are say very little about what the job would really be. They can’t convey what the job would be. Just like recruiters sometimes feel that resumes aren’t really convey what a candidate is like. That’s why we see this as a move towards performance over pedigree, actual job simulations instead of bad interviews or horrible tests. And we all know that skills-based hiring really is the right thing to do. There’s a study a few years back by North Carolina State that took a sample of engineers, software engineers, and randomly assigned one half the group to an interview process where they would get a take home exam, a take home challenge, where they would do a real programming challenge that would be evaluated later and the other half would go through the traditional interview process with technical interviews.

And in the first group, 100% of the women engineers were hired and in the second group, none of them were. And so this is taking that take home challenge and automating it and scaling it to any volume. It is skills based interviewing is the future of recruiting and we know that, and that becomes more important in a world of remote work where I believe company culture is evolving towards who can do the job, who responds on Slack, who’s available when you need them. And this gets at the ability to do those things.

 

William Tincup:

So one of the things you’re touching on that I love is the unconscious bias or conscious bias that’s in tech recruiting and tech hiring. And again, if you strip all that away and you let candidates then go through the simulation, the best talent wins.

 

Dan:

Yep, that’s exactly right. And we all know that’s the right thing to do. We’d like to think that we’re striving towards a meritocracy and this is just another step towards that. It’s, I always tell people, you got to hire slow and fire fast. And the reason is, is that keeping someone in a job who can’t do the job is actually a kind of passive aggressive form of torture.

 

William Tincup:

Right, right. Cruel and unusual. Yeah.

 

Dan:

Totally. And this actually allows you to hire people who proven they can do the job by showcasing their skills.

 

William Tincup:

Do you see a play down the road in terms of internal mobility for Filtered?

 

Dan:

Oh, for sure, for sure.

 

William Tincup:

With large organizations. Already R and D, it’s kind of worked projects, et cetera. Somebody’s doing something. I’m thinking of Lockheed right now for some reason, but somebody in the other side of the world is working on some bit and you have no idea. I could see it, but I wanted to get your take.

 

Dan:

Well, again, one benefit of that, we’ve all known for years that the instinct, the organizational instinct to first try to find someone outside your company to do a new job is the wrong answer. That there, especially if you use your point in a large company, there’s someone who’s proven their ability to work in your culture and work hard and be a great teammate and not be self-centered and all the things we look for in colleagues, but you don’t know what more they can do. And if you provide them, again, this pre configured laptop for how you’re going to do solve problems and build code in your subsidiary on a different part of the planet, they can download the packages, they can prove their ability to do API plugins, they can design firewall rules, they can prove they can do the job. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s someone outside the company or inside, except for the fact that if they’re inside the company you know a whole lot more about whether they’re a great colleague.

 

William Tincup:

So we probably should have started this, but let’s go now that people have some context, let’s go into the simulation or into a simulation for folks and give them an example of, okay, where in the process the workflow, because you know all of the sourcing and recruiting workflow and recruitment marketing workflow, so you know the whole funnel, where do they place the simulation and in what, and just a sample simulation, just let’s give the audience a little bit of a little texture.

 

Dan:

Well, the most typical process is that when someone applies for a job there is a step when resumes and applications are screened. They’re visually screened. Sometimes as we know, recruiting platforms now have algorithms that rank them based on the keywords that are in their resume, which of course we now know people are rewriting their resumes to optimize for those algorithms just like you optimize your website for Google search engine. So once they’re screened, maybe 50/50, half go into the reject and half are screened in, then there’s some sort of meeting phone call typically to review the background. After that then if they pass that phone screen, then they get a technical screen or they get a technical assessment test of some sort. And the test is typically what I, it’s kind of like an SAT, is the answer A, B, C, D, or E. And then if they pass a certain score and above on that test, then they actually get a technical interview.

Our customers have been using Filtered into either substitute for the technical screen or the first technical interview or both. It Filtered ourself. We don’t even put the word apply on our career website. We put the word interview now because we are so confident in the quality of our job simulations that this is an interview and candidates like taking interviews, they don’t like being screened, they don’t like taking tests, but they like thinking they have a shot to get a job and having an interview where they’re going to learn something. So we have some companies that are using a very high volume filter to essentially automate the screening process and then interview live. We have some customers, by the way, who then use our live interviewing capability to do that live interview. And the cool thing about that is all the work they did in the Filtered job simulation ports over into the live conference room and then the two can, the hiring manager and the candidate can actually rewrite the code in their job simulation together.

They can collaborate on it. In fact, our own engineering team uses Filtered as a collaboration coding tool. But in any event, we also have companies that essentially use Filtered in all the technical interviewing steps, the screen, the technical interview, and then the live interview. Those are the three basic areas where we can be applied and that’s why the big benefit is we just essentially increase the speed of recruiting. Customers experience four times faster time to hire, twice the interview to hire rate, half the time interviewing, because we essentially automate a big chunk of the technical screening and interviewing process. An example, where I think we were, and still are a leader in the area of data science, for example. And in that case we had a customer who not only wanted to have a job simulation for engineers to build an algorithm, but to build an algorithm with their data.

So therefore we built for them a job simulation that imported their own data around navigation, automobile navigation. And the candidates were asked to build an algorithm that produced output on navigating a vehicle, navigating a car. And what Filtered does is it scores the output from the candidate compared to the intended output given the data that’s in the data set. So essentially it’s auto scoring based on the results. Now it’s very important for me to say that you can imagine the intended result. There’s only so many ways to get the intended result. There’s a lot of ways to get the intended result, but there’s it’s the intended result pretty clear and cut and dry.

So if candidates fail to reduce the intended output, like the code doesn’t run. Nevertheless, the code is all there. And there’s a lot of signals that are tracked, kind of the way if you’ve ever seen and gone with sales interviews, it flags different parts of the interview. And we also enable candidates to, through the video interviewing capability to explain their work. So it’s like when we were kids and taking tests and the teacher would say make sure you show your work because if you get the wrong answer, you may have become very close. Essentially Filtered enables that too. So we not only auto scored the actual answer, the results of your code, but also flag all your work that you can show and explain in the video portion of the interview.

 

William Tincup:

So dumb question alert, but years ago in technical hiring, there was a lot of discussions around fraud in the sense of especially remote people that were in a different country taking test. And so I think a lot of the testing providers put up, built up all kinds of different mechanisms to detect fraud. Are they looking at Github or Stack Overflow at the same time as they’re answering these questions? Stuff like that. Do you all, I mean, for your customers, do you see any of that or is that still a concern or is it not as much of a concern because of the simulation?

 

Dan:

It’s a really good question. There’s different kinds of fraud. And the fraud that most matters to our customers and the people we talk to is, is the person who they say they are?

 

William Tincup:

Right.

 

Dan:

The person who took it, the person we’re interviewing for the job. And so for the video portion of our platform, you can turn on or off. But for those for whom that’s an important part because of the volume of people they’re hiring, the locations of where they’re hiring people, they then we verify people via their LinkedIn profile. We have the camera will flag if a different person comes into the frame, it doesn’t, we also do track where you go online while you’re doing the job simulation. But in our view, it could be just as much an example of resourcefulness than it is any kind of fraud.

Meaning you want engineers who can go to their GitHub and they’ve written code that does what the challenge is asking to be done and they cut and paste their own code into it. That’s good, that’s resourcefulness. Or they know how to research a problem online. We flag all those things so that a human being can make the judgment whether there’s an issue or not. And I do think that identity verification is continue to be an important area in remote interviewing and remote hiring, and we’re going to continue to evolve our fraud detection in that case.

 

William Tincup:

Yeah, I saw that at HR Tech, 16 different, what we used to call background screening, but they’ve all kind of become more continuous identity verification applications, which is fascinating. I know you despise software categories as much as I do, but what do your customers consider you? Where in the budget do they pull from to pay for Filtered?

 

Dan:

Well, first of all, as you’ve already noted, we’re focused on software engineering, data science, DevOps, and in a lot of companies the talent acquisition department has two groups. One for engineering and technical hiring and one for everybody else. And so typically we are talking to people, the people who have reached out to us are those from the technical recruiting side as well as leaders in engineering who are dissatisfied with the quality of interviews and the quality of candidates. The budget, what are we, it’s a good question. We’re not an applicant tracking software product. Applicant tracking, I love the category. I spent many years in it with Jobvite as well as when I was CEO of Hot Jobs, but maybe the world’s first ATS was part of our company resume. That is, that’s more what I would call hiring logistics.

And we just integrate with all the ATSs that are out there. They all modern ATSs have open APIs and their workflow software triggers Filtered, both the sending out of a Filtered invitation as well as is linking to the results of a Filtered interview. So we’re not a recruiting platform in that regard, but clearly what we are is an interviewing platform and a skills-based interviewing platform. And I would argue it’s even, it’s not really, even though video interviewing is a unique part of our experience, I think we’re a skills based job simulation platform to the point you made, internal candidates can find out whether they’re qualified for the new job in the new division on the other side of the country.

So I don’t, it’s an evolving category, it’s an important category. It’s the merger of things that have happened in the past. I mean at Jobvite we built video interviewing, probably the first ATS to ever natively build video interviewing, but this is a vertical simulation and work is moving to the cloud and the work that takes place on the cloud takes place on a computer, on a laptop. And so simulating work that’s done on a laptop, digital work that’s done on a laptop is a new thing and a new thing in recruiting. And I think it allows for the dream of skills-based hiring.

 

William Tincup:

Well, and it’s also, it gets you to fit faster because ultimately the candidate and the hiring manager can see, can I see myself in this? And for the hiring manager, can I see this person in this scenario? And again, with words and questions and all that other stuff, that’s great, but there’s nothing like a true simulation to understand what’s behind the veil. So it gets us to fit faster and probably at a higher quality level.

 

Dan:

I don’t want to stereotype candidates or kinds of work. But let’s be honest, I mean, I’ve been running tech companies now since the nineties, and I always tell people, everyone in these tech companies are super smart, super qualified, well educated, but sales people and engineers are a special breed. And engineers really, really hate bull shit. They just do, as a culture, as a profession. If you’re a CEO and you’re doing an all hands meeting and all you do is talk about how great things are, they’re going to hate you. They want you to talk about how is the company doing? Is what I’m building going to win for the company? Dilbert is built as a cartoon on the assumption that engineers despise business people who don’t connect what they’re doing every day, coding, writing code, and building product with the success of the business. And I think that Filtered is enabling companies to have a perfect first introduction to high quality, well educated, super smart engineers. This is the work we’re doing here. Show me that you want to do it.

 

William Tincup:

So let me ask you a couple buy side questions real quick. What’s your favorite part of the demo? I know you got a huge sales team and all that other stuff, but occasionally you get to show people software. What’s your favorite part in that whole bit where you feel it’s kind of like an aha moment?

 

Dan:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s good. That’s a really good question because at first I thought it was going to be, let me show you the whole, there’s an initial screen that makes it pretty obvious every step in the process. And I thought, ah, this is the money screenshot we got to show and start every demo with. And it is in terms of context, but everyone just kind of nods their head. The only, the time when I get gasps like, “Oh,” is when they see a interview. They watch an engineer code, a recorded interview of them coding, and they see the flags that have been made to highlight good things or potentially bad things. And they see the scores of one candidate versus another candidate. So it’s really the result. It’s the recorded interview that is the money section of the Disneyland tour.

 

William Tincup:

So that’s awesome. Questions that practitioners should ask you when buying Filtered. So if you could maybe wave a magic wand, what would you love for people to ask you more about in terms of Filtered, especially in the buying process?

 

Dan:

Do experienced engineers hate doing this? And because I think that is the presumption that people in talent acquisition have, the supply and demand of engineers is so great and that candidates don’t want to do this. And we lose candidates when we give them assessment tests. And if you give them a job simulation, won’t that lose more candidates? And what I want people to understand is that you got to take into account the candidate themself. They hate tests that have nothing to do with their profession. It was like, I haven’t been to college in eight years and you’re giving me some sort of-

 

William Tincup:

An HTML, you’re giving an HTML test. Really?

 

Dan:

It has nothing to do with what I’ve been doing and I know I can do this job. And it requires a certain self-confidence in a company and in a talent acquisition team to say, we know what we need. We have a strong need for engineers who can work in our code and build the kinds of things we’re now building. So don’t be shy. Create a job simulation, put it out there and let the candidates select themselves in.

 

William Tincup:

I love it. So last question, and it’s your without brand names or any of that stuff, but your latest and most favorite customer story.

 

Dan:

I can’t name the customer.

 

William Tincup:

Nor should you.

 

Dan:

It was a, let’s put it this way, an airline who was wondering if it would work for them.

 

William Tincup:

Right.

 

Dan:

And we said, why don’t you filter some of the candidates you’ve rejected already. And see if you find somebody who slipped through the cracks and they did. They sent out Filtered invitations to the people they had rejected in the last 60 days or so. And in fact, someone aced it and they hired them. And to me that’s the best evidence that our current process of hiring is imperfect. We’re letting qualified candidates slip through the crack and we’re wasting time interviewing candidates that don’t qualify for the job.

 

William Tincup:

Dan walks off stage, drops mic. Done deal. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

 

Dan:

I very much appreciate it. I love talking to you every time. It’s been too long and look forward to doing it again.

 

William Tincup:

Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast. Until next time.

 

Announcer:

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Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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