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The Case for Updating the Hiring Process

Hiring platform Smarterer wants employers to ditch the resumes and evaluate job candidates through assessment tests.
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    Résumés are so passé. Smarterer lives up to its heady name by offering employers a more intelligent approach to evaluating prospective hires: The Boston-based startup challenges job seekers to prove their mettle by completing crowdsourced assessment tests that quantify their professional skills and strengths in a matter of minutes.

    The Smarterer platform boasts more than 900 multiple-choice tests, spanning professions from software development to sales. All questions are submitted by users and validated by the Smarterer community at large, with assessments leveraging an adaptive machine-learning algorithm that recalibrates the quiz in real time depending on the test taker's performance, guaranteeing that no two tests are identical.

    Smarterer users have completed nearly 3 million test sessions and answered some 26 million questions. Each test yields a numeric score that incorporates elements of Glicko, the same system that tallies chess mastery and Xbox expertise. Users can choose whether their results are made public. Smarterer permits do-overs on certain tests, and test takers can continue answering questions to help their scores, especially if they've gained knowledge or expertise.

    "So many companies are blind to what skills matter and when," says co-founder and CEO Dave Balter. "We asked ourselves, 'How could we create assessments that only track what's important?' The only way to solve it is using the knowledge of the crowd. They'll determine what skills are important to measure, and what's important to measure in those skills."

    Dave Balter of Smarterer. Photo (C) David Salafia

    Balter and CTO Mike Kowalchik launched Smarterer in 2010, not only to help employers more effectively identify potential talent but also to enable them to conduct "skill inventories" among their existing staffs and recognize gaps and blind spots. Earlier this year, Smarterer unveiled Flock, which gives subject-matter experts within an enterprise the ability to create custom test questions that measure core competencies and define the information and experience an employee must possess to thrive within a specific role, offering decision makers deeper insights into hiring, training and compensation.

    "Companies keep saying the same thing: 'I want to understand the skills of my team, but I also want to know what's missing. What skills do other companies like mine have?'" Balter says. "We can go in there and say, 'We've done a profile of your skills; we're going to show you what 10 other companies look like; and here's the data for where the world is going.'"

    A handful of Fortune 500 companies have already implemented the premium Flock service, Balter says, without providing specifics. The firm also generates revenue through partnerships with contract marketplaces such as Elance, helping the online staffing platform improve its job matches. Smarterer has raised $4.6 million in venture funding, including contributions from Google Ventures and Rethink Education.

    "We built a system that can pinpoint someone's skill level within about 10 questions and 120 seconds," Balter says. "That's a pretty powerful tool."

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