Sonru Levels the Playing Field for Global Job Candidates

by francine Hardaway on July 21, 2011

I’m telling you, the more I travel, the more I understand that the internet has leveled the playing field for entrepreneurship.

Twenty-five years ago, Ireland was encouraging foreign companies to build facilities by providing mega tax incentives and cheap land.  That’s because a generation of highly educated Irish youth was leaving the country for jobs IBM, Intel, and a host of others opened Irish facilities and the country enjoyed a rebirt.h.
But in its latest economic crisis, the country has decided to do something completely different: encourage local companies to develop and grow in world markets. The new effort is called Enterprise Ireland, and one of its “High Potential Startups” is Sonru, the automated online video interviewing company.
Sonru’s founder, Ed Hendrick was getting a graduate degree when the Irish economy hit the skids in 2008. He realized something was wrong with the  recruiting and hiring process, and decided to do something about it.
While Hendrick set off originally to make an online video resume database, talking to recruiters soon caused him to pivot: HR people didn’t want video resumes, because there was no controlling what the candidate chose to say. For recruiters, something more structured was desirable — some kind of orchestrated video interview. And candidates wanted a fair chance to compete against other recruits.
The development of online video interviewing proved to be difficult, because the solution has to pick up the bandwidth, camera, mic, and other settings on every candidate’s computer and adapt to those conditions. But when the application launched its beta, its first  customer was Eircom, the national telecom company of Ireland. Ed quickly brought in a CTO who had been in his graduate program, and all feedback went straight into product development to create a shorter recruiting cycle for HR managers and a better experience for candidates.
Because Ed was a first time entrepreneur (only 26 when he started the company), he also brought in a CEO, choosing a tech veteran and the former head of the Irish Internet Association. Then Enterprise Ireland matched a round of venture funding and put Sonru in its High Potential Startup program. Most of the other companies in the program are biotech, but Enterprise Ireland believes in the global market for Sonru’s product, which has won several awards already and has early traction with companies that do worldwide recruiting, such as CERN, which screens 100 resumes, conducts ten Sonru interviews, and arrives at a shortlist of 3 candidates to Interview in person.

The company’s key targets are telcos, financial services companies, online gaming and gambling companies and graduate recruitment programs. Queens University in Belfast uses Sonru to screen non EU candidates for its medicine program.

I see Sonru as a major step forward for colleges and graduate schools, and for respondents to RFPs,  because the  questions each candidate receives can be recorded in advance and answered at a convenient time for the interviewee. The answers are also recorded, allowing admissions officers and HR professionals to compare answers by different candidates to the same question, something not possible in a Skype interview. It’s especially interesting if a candidate has to be interviewed by a committee.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: