No matter which side of the interview process you're on, we can agree on this: the traditional process can be a drawn-out, time-consuming pain.

It all starts with the dreaded phone screen. It's a mad dash to cram in as much as possible in those precious 30 minutes. The conversation feels forced. And you both very well know it could go nowhere.

It's a lot of time invested for little payoff -- especially if you're interviewing for several jobs or screening many candidates at once.

That's why one startup has an unusual hiring solution to revamp the interview process. Their platform lets recruiters text candidates instead of calling them.

You're used to texting friends and family throughout day. Could this work for hiring managers and candidates, too? Canvas, a company that launched in June 2017, created a text-message based interview platform.

Canvas says texting is more effective than phone screening because recruiters can talk to many candidates at once. All the text threads are stored, making the transcripts easy to reference later. It recommends questions to hiring managers mid-conversation and even allows them to send candidates in-text links to company info such as benefits information. "You can engage 10x the candidates per day," the Canvas website boasts.

Why it works for OpenTable

Online restaurant reservation system OpenTable uses Canvas to screen candidates. Scott Day, OpenTable's senior vice president of people and culture, spoke with CNBC Make It about the company's success with the platform.

It's easier for recruiters to manage multiple conversation at once. It's helpful for candidates, too. Day says they can better understand the company's culture with photos and videos to decide if OpenTable might be a fit.

Setting unrealistic expectations

But the process isn't perfect. Day sings the praises of this "benefit" to CNBC Make It:

Unlike a traditional phone conversation, he says a transcript of a text conversation provides insight into what questions a candidate takes longer to respond to and at if at any point a candidate seems to have lost interest.

Hold it right there.

Candidates are judged by how quickly they respond to texts? I don't think this is fair. Exploring a job opportunity shouldn't mean you're expected to be on-call via text message 24/7.

Some candidates may see no issue with this. They're already on their phones constantly, and texting keeps the conversation going without having to stop what you're doing and hop on a call. That's not the case for everyone though. This doesn't consider those who might be trying to spend less time glued to their smartphone.

Even having your phone in the same room with notifications turned off is a distraction. A recent study found that people performed tasks better when their phone was in another room. So you might miss a text from a recruiter because you've deliberately placed your phone in another room so you can focus. Just because you don't reply instantaneously doesn't mean you're uninterested in the job.

Faster reply = more committed employee

Opinions might differ depending on the company. Take Erika Nardini, for example. She's the CEO of Barstool Sports. When interviewed for the New York Times Corner Office column, she said she texts candidates at odd times as a sort of test:

If you're in the process of interviewing with us, I'll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you'll respond.

Seems like a major red flag. If work-life balance is important to you, tread lightly with employers who expect immediate replies to their interview texts -- especially on the weekend. How a potential employer conducts the interview process provides a telling clue about their workplace culture. If you're expected to reply instantaneously to text messages from recruiters and hiring managers, it's likely you'd be expected to do the same on the job.

For recruiters, managing multiple text conversations with potential candidates can be just as challenging. "In a workday already dominated by chat--Slack, Twitter, DMs, Gchats, texts from people I actually know--adding another real-time interaction feels both second-nature and incredibly intimidating," writes Kira Bindrim. She's the managing editor of Quartz and tried Canvas last year. "Texting someone you don't know feels a little invasive, and knowing whether someone can have an adult conversation with their mouth is something I like to establish early."

Published on: Mar 27, 2018
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