How Talk Hiring got its first users

Talk Hiring ( is an automated mock interviewing tool. To date (May 2020), we’ve conducted over 3,000 automated mock interviews with job training programs, high schools, and colleges. I’m the Founder/CEO and have been working on this business full-time since August 2018.

Talk Hiring started off as an automated phone screening tool for employers. We simply wanted to help employers save time and speed up their hiring process by automating their initial phone screens with job seekers. This business idea didn’t last long (<5 months).

To find businesses that might find our tool useful, I started by pounding the pavement and walking into small businesses in NY/NJ. Although it’s free to do, I wasn’t very successful (however, this did connect me to Talk Hiring’s first employee, Anson Ervin). Some reasons:
  • I hadn’t thought through the fact that I should have professional business cards. I was ripping off sections of paper from my notebook with my contact info. Those "business cards" had a response rate of 0%.
  • The manager of a store/restaurant is often not present (or maybe they were lying to me).
  • Most of these small businesses don’t do lots of hiring, so automating job interviews isn’t that exciting.
  • The second that a customer walks in, I was less important.
  • Nobody likes walk-in solicitors. I distinctly remember being yelled at more than once.

A replica of my initial business cards :)

Other strategies that didn’t work:
  • Applying to jobs online but using a Talk Hiring flyer as my resume. I got no bites and was surprised how many times I got calls from recruiters about how great a fit I was for the position.
  • General networking groups. I got 2 free pilots out of networking groups, but most members are solopreneurs/extremely small businesses (< 5 people companies). I met some great people that are very helpful to the business to this day, but it just wasn’t a great customer acquisition channel.

On a whim, I decided to check out a job fair in Trenton, NJ. That was the start of our job fair strategy. Some job fairs are ideal places to find initial beta testers of an HR tech product. But I stress *some*. The best job fairs for getting face time with hiring managers are free ones (run by the government) located in suburban areas. Job fairs in NYC are overcrowded with lines snaking around the block. You want a job fair that isn’t too busy so that hiring managers are bored enough to talk to you 🙂. And, not surprisingly, free job fairs have the most employers. I’m a Jersey kid, so this job fair website was my bible (got to love Mapquest directions for every event). I would walk in with a stack of resumes in a folder as to not look suspicious, and have a stack of Talk Hiring flyers below.

I was able to pilot our first product, an automated phone screening tool, with a custom kitchen range hood company, a lead generation company, a home health aide business, a gym, a chess education company, a car wash, a day care, and a few restaurants.

At these job fairs, I would meet people that worked at job training programs. Job training programs are always looking to enroll unemployed/underemployed individuals in their programming. Plus, I knew a lot about this industry through volunteering with a job training program in Brooklyn for a year.

I heard "can we use this tool for interview practice?" a few too many times at these job fairs. I decided to run an experiment and reconfigure the tool into a mock interviewing tool. We’ve been focusing on our mock interviewing tool ever since.