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.
That Extra Boost
"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."
She also worries that the anonymity that Interviewspy prides itself on could backfire for users. "It's sort of like 'Buyer Beware'. Because it is anonymous, there is a chance of inaccurate information being posted," said Nadler.
But despite such concerns, other companies have partnered with similar sites like glassdoor.com, thinking that such sites can benefit both the site and the company.
Companies are now seeing the benefit of these sites, figuring that the more prepared a candidate is, the better it will be for both the candidate and company. Bank of America (one of the companies listed on interviewspy) spokeswoman Ferris Morrison said, "We look for candidates who understand the company. Any candidate who has done the work is going to be a stronger candidate."
"It's a Little Sneaky"
Malt is glad that companies are seeing the positive aspects of the sites rather than focusing on any negative aspects. Referencing the site's referral to users as spies, "It is a little sneaky," he admitted. "It's a site that reveals what's behind closed doors but it's nothing unethical. We're just evening the playing field."
Murti added, "There are so many ways of getting this information and there are people who have time to scour the internet to look for it. We're just trying to help out the normal kids."
To date, the site has had 978 visitors and close to 8,000 page views. The pair is looking into future expansion - they want to add a way to critique resumes, allow for networking, and build their company database. But for now, they say that they need to work on maintaining site stability as well as focus on their own careers. Malt works for Barclay's Capital in New York while Sanjay is headed to Columbia Law School next year.
"We're sort of at profit-zero," Malt joked. "But it's our first website launch- that's still pretty cool."
ABCNews.com contributor Candace Smith is a member of the ABC News on Campus bureau in Washington, D.C.