One of the latest job sites to launch in Germany is Whyapply, a platform where companies post challenges rather than ads. Prospective applicants respond to challenge questions and comment on each other’s answers as a way of demonstrating problem-solving skills that don’t always show up on a CV. Whyapply launched in beta in September.

Michael Benz, founder of Innovailably GmbH, which operates Whyapply, told us the goal isn’t just to engage job applicants but also to create a community of passive job seekers who might be interested in a topic, like marketing, and enjoy participating in challenges. “It’s like Stack Overflow for non-programmers,” he said.

Michael Benz, Whyapply founder and managing director (photo from his Xing profile with thanks)

He sees the site as particularly useful for career changers, but admitted it’s up for a challenge in Germany, where employers still focus heavily on relevant academic training, direct experience, and hard skills (not to mention photos and birthdates) in hiring. The target group is white-collar, young professionals with at least a high school diploma (Abitur).

Companies create a challenge question, select up to three matching categories (indicated by hashtags to help users find them) and post it on Whyapply. An example in the #hightech category: “Can start-ups compete with established players when it comes to marketing activities without having similar budgets?” Whyapply pushes the challenges through social media channels.

Users register on the site to participate in challenges and comment on the answers of others (users are never identified by name). They can choose whether or not to submit their anonymous profile to an employer when answering a challenge — this shows only the candidate’s activity on Whyapply, including answers and comments, and how many points they have accumulated as a result of their activity and the popularity of their responses.

After this initial contact, employers may ask to send candidates the job description and to view their entire profiles, including photos, CVs and links to social media profiles.

Employers pay a monthly subscription fee to post questions. If a company hires via Whyapply, it pays a commission equivalent to one month’s salary. The site is free for candidates.

Benz said the team checks candidate answers to ensure they conform to netiquette. Whyapply currently has 10 employers as customers and posts around 20 challenges. Benz told us the site has a “three-figure number” of registered users.

Benz claimed Whyapply is the only service of its type in Germany, although he admitted there are several competitors in the growing field of rectech focused on candidate soft skills and culture fit, such as Good&Co, a personality assessment app acquired by StepStone last year; and the Berlin start-up  JobUnicorn, which matches candidates to jobs using data from both personality assessments and their CVs.

With a core team of four in Leipzig, Innovailably is currently funded by an EXIST business start-up grant from the German government.

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