It was their junior year at Georgetown University and buddies Bradford "Chip" Malt and Sanjay Murti were stressed. They were preparing to enter the competitive job market and were having trouble balancing studying for job and internship interviews with their schoolwork. In trying to find a proverbial "easy button", they were having no luck. So they created one.
"These are really grueling interview processes," said Malt. "We were noticing that a lot of people were having trouble balancing. They needed a place that could consolidate information."
So they created interviewspy.com, the latest tool in helping job candidates prepare for interviews. It is a user-driven site that provides candidates questions and information concerning over 150 companies, including Google, Bank of America and Teach for America.
The site solicits "spies" to post questions that they have received during interviews as well as information that they think may be helpful for potential candidates. The site launched in January 2011.
The site breaks companies down by individual department, and users can find and post questions regarding specific positions and even specific rounds of interviews. No registration is required and users can post anonymously.
Malt and Murti say that their site does what simply "googling" a company cannot. "There's an art to googling. If you're good at it, you can find a lot but we saw that people just didn't have the time," said Malt. Murti added that the strength of their site was in allowing users to join without having to input any personal information.
Andy Lentz, 21, used interviewspy last year as he was preparing for interviews with Barclay's Capital and Credit Suisse. As a prospective entrant into the high-powered business world, Lentz needed some way to distinguish himself. He was interviewing for a sales and trading position with each company and was able to look up questions that had been asked for his position during round 1.
"Business is so competitive. I was looking for any type of competitive advantage and interviewspy just gave me that extra boost," said Lentz.
And give him a boost it did. Lentz made it to round 2 of Barclay's interview process and was extended an offer by Credit Suisse. He liked the site so much that he decided to impart some of his knowledge by posting a question that he had during his own interview:
"You pay $1 for a call option 6 months from now at $25. The stock is currently trading at $20. In 6 months, the price of the stock is $26. What have you earned on this transaction?"
"It inspires you to come back [to the site]," Lentz said. "It helps people see what answers will resonate with the interviewer."
Lentz does suggest, however, that students do not depend solely on such sites. "It should be a starting point. Don't let the spies answer questions for you. Do what you can on top of what you get from the site so that you have a full understanding."
But there are some concerns with these sites. Judy Nadler, Senior Fellow on Government Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California, said she worries that these sites may pose some ethical dilemmas. "There may be some questions that could be proprietary and if they [companies] are concerned that some of their information could get out, they may be less likely to conduct full and candid interviews."