Canvas replaces over-the-phone job interviews with texting

what is an rss feed 31019544  woman reading text message on bus
We’ve all been there: You send your spruced-up resume and references to a job recruiter, get a friendly acceptance email from said recruiter, and set up a phone interview. That’s where things get tricky — once you’ve spent days or weeks nailing down a time that fits both of your calendars, you’re stuck with logistical challenges like dodgy cell reception, background noise, and awkward questions that sound much better in an email than over the phone. That’s why Canvas, a new startup, is tackling things from a different angle: Text messaging.

Canvas, the brainchild of Aman Brar, Kelly Lavin, and Jared Adams, takes a “messaging-first” approach to job interviews. Instead of scheduling a phone call with a recruiter, prospective employees text them via a smartphone, PC, or tablet, as if they’re exchanging messages with a friend. Brar compared it to online dating.

“In today’s society, we’re willing to screen a potential spouse with a swipe on an app, but we’re still screening job candidates over the phone,” Brar told Digital Trends. “When you find a match, you don’t call and ask awkward questions about how long they dated their last partner. If texting is a good enough way to find your life partner, it’s more than adequate for recruiting talent.”

A lot goes on behind the scenes. Recruiters contact job applicants through the Canvas dashboard, a PC-optimized web client or a mobile app for iOS and Android. It looks like Slack or Facebook Messenger — recruiters see a list of candidates they’re actively chatting with on the left-hand side, the body of the ongoing conversation in the center, and the candidate’s name, city of origin, phone number, and social media profiles on the right-hand side.

But Canvas is a lot more specialized. Recruiters can “like” and “dislike” responses from candidates, and insert notes during the course of the interview (these are hidden from the candidates). They can embed media, too, like culture videos, job descriptions, applications, and benefits packages, and rate applicant responses on a five-star scale.

What’s most interesting about Canvas, though, is its artificial intelligence features, which tap IBM Watson to serve up questions, links, and documents relevant to the top of conversation. If a candidate asks about a company’s pay scale and 401k, for example, Canvas might helpfully pull up a draft contract and a list of benefits, and even show buttons that sends the documents in a single click.

canvas app news chat  share candidate

When an interview wraps up, Canvas stores the contents for posterity, and generates a one-sheet summary consisting of the candidate’s name, qualitative score (out of five stars), basic profile information, and a two-column outline of “positive” comments and “negative” comments. A built-in sharing function generates a email link to the page, and in the coming weeks will let recruiters mask candidates’ names to protect their privacy.

The real benefit of Canvas, Brar said, is the flexibility it affords. He points out that when it comes to business communication, a vast majority of the 50 million millennials that’ll be hired between now and 2025 — roughly 88 percent — prefer texting to phone calls.

“With Canvas, there’s no need to schedule a phone interview — prospective employees can text questions and responses at the times most convenient to them,” Brar said, “and media embeds save them the trouble of having to dig through websites and company directories to find resources.”

But Brar thinks it’s a boon for enterprise, too. “Most recruiters can only fit four or five phone calls in a day,” he said. “With Canvas, they can interview 40 or 50.”

It’s already gaining traction in the corporate world. Canvas, which launched with $1.7 million in seed funding, has early adopters that span from startups to Fortune 500, companies located in Silicon Valley, and even the Midwest. It counts Scott Day, senior vice president of people and culture for OpenTable and former head of talent strategy for Airbnb, as well as Jeff Perkins, founder of Huntbridge and former vice president of human resources at SpaceX, among the members of its leadership advisory board.

The team’s future plans include a smartphone and web app for candidates, and “richer” experiences for both recruiters and prospective employees — including AI-powered features.

“We think we can do more there — especially with natural language processing,” Brar said, referring to the field in computer science concerned with AI’s ability to interpret words and phrases. “We have ideas for much richer experiences down the line.”


Smishing sounds funny, but it’s a serious threat to your phone’s security

We all know phishing is a huge security problem, but most people still believe it’s a problem limited to email. According to new reports, however, phishing scams are attempting to exploit your trust in text messages.

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Social Media

Facebook is rolling out a Messenger ‘unsend’ feature, and here’s how to use it

Facebook is starting to roll out a "remove message" feature for its Messenger app. It lets you delete a message in a thread within 10 minutes of sending it, and replaces it with a note telling recipients that it's been removed.
Smart Home

Google Assistant adds smart home bells and whistles in time for the holidays

Just in time for the holidays, Google Assistant is introducing a bunch of new smart home features, including the ability to reply to broadcast messages, create and use cookbooks, and access enhanced storybook content for kids.

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.

Sharp doubles down on the notch trend with Aquos R2 Compact

As if one notch wasn't enough, Japanese manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new smartphone that has two -- one teardrop style notch at the top, and a bigger notch at the bottom. Here's what the world's first dual-notch smartphone looks like.

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.
Product Review

With style and feature upgrades, Misfit's next-generation Vapor 2 gets it right

Misfit’s next-generation smartwatch, the Vapor 2, packs built-in GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and more, into a beautiful design that starts from $250. We take a closer look at the company's latest device.