As regular readers know, I taught a strategy class to the Next 36 would-be entrepreneurs. During that process they would present their own ventures as cases. One of those ventures was Kira. Their idea was to provide a platform whereby employers would set out a series of questions and job candidates would be required to answer them in a video. That video was then uploaded to the Kira platform to be reviewed later as part of the applicants materials. The idea is that this could remove the need for an interview in some cases and provide a better screen for certain types of jobs — they were thinking of recruiting by retail chains. There was nothing like it out there.
Anyhow, during their case discussion with me and perhaps because they had been taught it elsewhere one of the members asked me “well, how do you see us fitting into your business?”
At the time, and I remember this clearly, I thought to myself. “That has to be the most stupid question I have ever heard. I’m a professor for goodness sake. I don’t have a business.” And I gave a look to go with that thought.
Then I answered “well, I work in a business school and it is hard to see who we would interview … hang on a second … I guess we interview prospective MBA students. It is from all around the world. Near as I can tell a video answer to a set of questions would actually give a ton of useful information to our selection staff.” Pretty quickly after that I put them in touch with the MBA recruiting office at Rotman and Kira is being used for the incoming cohort.
Today, BusinessWeek profiled that activity.
Frustrated by the rote admissions essays they were receiving, the administrators at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management made a first-of-its-kind video component an application requirement, beginning with the upcoming Oct. 9 application deadline. With more applicants hiring admissions consultants and the abundance of information on the Internet about essays, Rotman staff believed aspiring MBAs were regurgitating what they thought the admissions committee wanted to read, says Niki da Silva, director of recruitment and admissions for the full-time MBA program. She and her colleagues, she adds, worried they were not getting an authentic view of each candidate.
“It had become an essay-writing competition and less about the applicant’s real story,” says da Silva.
The Rotman solution, which starts with the current admissions cycle, requires applicants to submit one 500-word essay, one 250-word essay, and the video. Before, they would have had to write four essays at a maximum of 500 words each. While pondering this dilemma about packaged essay responses, da Silva was approached by Kira Talent, a company started by a group of entrepreneurs who recently completed a Rotman-affiliated program, about a new technology it was selling to employers. The video platform Kira Talent offered would allow da Silva and her colleagues to screen applicants in a different way, she says.
When applicants are ready to complete the video portion of the application, they first view a video of da Silva asking one standard question that everyone has to answer. Next, they answer one of about 20 additional questions prepared by Rotman that’s chosen randomly by the technology.
Other schools have used multi-media as part of their applications but the way it is now being done makes it really simple for selectors. So I don’t know how Kira might impact on non-business school businesses but I can see it having a broader appeal; especially for schools like Rotman that have a large international cohort.
Kira won the Palm d’Or at the Next 36 or whatever it is they call the equivalent. Any professors out there might consider sending the Kira website link (http://www.kiratalent.com/) to their program offices. It speaks for itself.
And I guess I learned that sometimes there are no stupid questions.