Today, TechCrunch posted an article about a stealth job site that makes companies pay candidates to interview with them. NotchUp is currently in beta and invitation-only, but apparently the site will allow candidates to set their own price (although a calculator is provided that suggests a price based on experience, current salary, etc.), in an attempt to lure the kind of passive job seekers that many companies would be interested in finding.

This is certainly innovative, trying to solve a real problem, and I like the idea, but ultimately I have a hard time imagining this working. I don’t doubt at all that potential job seekers (even ones that are not actively looking for a job) will be tempted to put their resume up on NotchUp. But how are companies supposed to tell the true, previously passive rock-star candidates from the legions of mediocre candidates or even worse, candidates out to make a quick buck by exploiting the NotchUp system? It sounds like they are going to implement some sort of ratings system to prevent abuse, but I remain skeptical. I am also curious about the logistics. Most companies perform a phone screen before inviting candidates for an in-person interview. Do candidates get paid if they don’t pass the phone screen? The full amount or just a fraction? Or do only in-person interviews count (which would be open for abuse on the employer’s side by subjecting candidates to a longer and more thorough phone screen)?

If all these obstacles can be avoided, this might turn out to be interesting from the employers’ perspectives, although I still wonder if small startups would be willing to pay $600 per candidate (especially given that presumably only 10-25% of interview candidates actually end up getting a job offer, depending on the quality and rigidity of the resume and phone screens). Then again, paying 10 times $600 for 10 interview candidates is likely still a lot cheaper than paying a recruiter.

Oh, it seems like the site is still having some stability issues: Somebody posted the NochUp beta username / password on TechCrunch, and now the website keeps timing out. But I guess that’s why it’s supposed to be a private beta, so perhaps we should cut them some slack… ;)

Anyway, it will be interesting to keep an eye on how this shapes up.