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Fri., Mar. 30, 2012 12:24pm EDT (Reuters) - When Will Flaherty, 23, applied for a job as director of communications for SeatGeek, an aggregator of sporting-event and concert-ticket websites, he had to jump through several challenging hoops — even before he landed an interview.

Flaherty, based in New York City, first had to crunch data about NFL ticket prices to create a graph and write a blog post. Once the post was published to a special website set up for the job opening, he promoted it through social media. Then, he watched as 15 other candidates went through the same process.

"Companies are realizing that if one person interviews all the candidates, no matter what, there is always a built-in bias," says Gerry Crispin, co-founder of consulting company Career Xroads in East Brunswick, N.J. "So, companies are getting better at breaking down what they want to know and figuring out the best way to learn it."

That process might include a panel interview, a presentation requirement, or "some unique aspect of their environment that they want to simulate with a try-out situation," Crispin said.

This doesn't mean those complex interviewing procedures can't be misused, or that job candidates shouldn't bail early on if the odds of getting a job are too slim to justify the time spent in preparation.

When Dawn Quiett, 42, a public relations consultant in Dallas, recently applied for a job at a local museum, she was asked to bring "a marketing plan, a Power Point presentation, and a list of my media contacts."

When she heard that five other candidates would be interviewed, providing similar troves of valuable information, Quiett bowed out. "After five people bring in all of those items, why would they need to hire anyone?" she says.

While the SeatGeek tryout worked out for Flaherty, 15 other applicants put in the same time and effort, and eight didn't even get a first interview.

Crispin advises companies to whittle down short-listed candidates to the final few before bringing on the bells-and-whistles interview. "If you ask for 50 writing samples at the very beginning, 49 people are wasting time they could be spending looking for a job that they actually have a chance of getting," he says.

Jack Groetzinger, a co-founder of Seatgeek, says most of the company's tryouts take up to an hour to complete, and to compensate job applicants for this time, Seatgeek tells them not to bother with a cover letter.

"People spend a lot of time on cover letters and the challenges we come up with tell us a lot more about their skills than cover letters do," he says.

(Editing by Beth Pinsker Gladstone and Bernadette Baum)

© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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