Job candidates don’t know exactly what they are getting themselves into when joining a specific team at new company, potentially leading to friction and attrition that drives the $12 billion recruiting market. Candor, a professional network that encourages people to share how they work, was founded by Kelsey Bishop. The New York City-based startup has raised a $5M seed round led by Contrary Capital, with participation from Afore Capital, Worklife, Village Global, Global Founders Capital, Banana Capital, Andrew Farah, Joseph Quan, Ellen DaSilva, Alek Koenig, and twenty-five other angels.
Nolan Church, founder and CEO of Continuum and angel investor in Candor, says, “Interviews and references don’t share the whole picture of someone at work. I invested in Candor because they’re building a trusted, authentic professional network, built by employee feedback. In the future, employers will use Candor for data on what it’s like to really work with someone.”
Frederick Daso: What are some of the main barriers to getting clear insight into a team’s interpersonal and professional dynamics?
Kelsey Bishop: Today, most companies don’t make space for having conversations about work styles and the dynamics of a team. Even from the start of an employee’s relationship with their new team, there isn’t room to open up a conversation about culture and work styles. At best, an employee has a few minutes to ask one or two questions back to their potential teammates at the end of an interview. This means that many of us enter a job blind to the existing culture of the team that we’re joining.
After you join a team, it doesn’t get better. There aren’t as many natural conversations in a remote world that happen at the water cooler about your weekend or who you are outside of work. Many of the interactions with our teammates are confined to scheduled Zoom meetings, which means it’s harder to build up trust in relationships with your teammates.
Daso: Why do LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and similar companies fail to provide true visibility into the day-to-day working of a particular team or firm?
Bishop: No current tools provide transparent information on values and working styles at the individual level. Someone’s LinkedIn and resume show you a polished version of them – their job titles and maybe a few fluffy recommendations. The status quo is not to share the whole version of ourselves, which means it’s incredibly difficult to understand if you’re going to work well with another person.
Glassdoor might be more transparent, but you can’t get a sense of a particular hiring manager or teammate, which is the piece that will impact your day-to-day at a company.
Daso: What types of firms or workers are you seeking to help with the software you are building within the recruiting market?
Bishop: We’re focused on helping people in early-stage startups. We’ve found people care a lot about finding a team where they feel like they belong and where they’re working on something they find fulfilling. Culture at this stage is quite nascent, and changes with every hire a company makes. For companies to be intentional with their culture, it’s important to make sure that each additional hire levels up their culture.
Daso: How does Candor specifically capture how someone works instead of the basic information of where they worked and how long?
Bishop: When you sign up for Candor, we’ll guide you through a self-assessment process (we call it a Self Take) to reflect on your ideal work style. Then, you’ll invite people you trust to contribute to your profile with you, creating a living document of how you do your best work.
We highlight information on your top strengths (where you shine in your role) and the areas you’re working on growing. We also prompt users to share insights on what motivates them, how they learn best, qualities they love in teammates, etc.
As we scale the Candor network, we want to help users create the ultimate “working with me doc.” This will be the only place that gives an authentic representation of someone’s work self, verified by prior and current teammates.
Daso: Is there any focus on the product for employers or companies to showcase how they work in the same way you’ve done for individuals?
Bishop: Absolutely. Every hiring manager and leader within a company can create a Candor profile to share more about how they work best. Many hiring managers share their Candor profile in job descriptions for open positions on their teams, so candidates can get a sense of what they’re like to work with before applying.
Additionally, many teams use Candor to level up their relationships with existing teammates. Teams will compare their Candor results and have open discussions on how they might work better together.
Daso: Given that you have a two-week work trial for potential Candor employees to experience day-to-day life working with you, does their feedback and experience shape how Candor is built for others looking to communicate their work style and preferences online?
Bishop: 100%. We iterate the product constantly based on what we learn from our own experiences of recruiting and team building.
The two-week work trial is especially interesting because we’re constantly thinking about how we might productize what we learn from working with a candidate into the product. What might it look like if we could look at a candidate’s Candor profile and have the confidence to make the hire without a work trial? What would we need to know to make that decision?
One of the things we discovered from a work trial that didn’t work out was motivations. Had the candidate shared more about their motivations before the work trial, we might have realized that it wouldn’t be a fit with our culture. After this experience, we added a Take prompt to the product around motivations. It’s incredibly helpful to be going through this ourselves and incorporating our learnings into the product.