DEMO 08: Get paid $500 for your next job interview. Honestly.

You say you wouldn't interview with Company X if they paid you?

A startup called NotchUp is betting that's a bluff.

Debuting this morning at Network World's DEMO 08 in Palm Desert, Calif., NotchUp founders Jim Ambras and Rob Ellis tell me that 15,000 people a day are signing up for their new eBay-like employment service - based solely on word of mouth. The founders are convinced employers will pay hundreds of dollars directly to people they would like to interview -- especially those not actively in the job market -- because it will bring them better candidates faster.

They're also convinced that once job seekers start getting paid for interviewing that they'll never go back to giving their time away for free. Almost 100,000 have already signed up, says Ellis, including "10,000 or so software engineers working mostly for top companies." Almost 1,000 companies have registered to participate in the NotchUp pilot, they say.

The viral deluge literally overwhelmed the Notchup site.

"We were prepared for 1,000 people, not 100,000," says Ambras, adding that they've subsequently beefed up their backend.

How's it work? From the NotchUp site:

To get started, simply register, create a profile (which is similar to an online resume), and set an interview price. Your interview price is the price at which you'll talk to prospective employers. Once you've created your profile, companies will search it and make you paid offers to interview if you have the skills and experience they're looking for. Accept the offers you're interested in, go to the interviews, and we'll collect the money and transfer it to you.

Haggling over price is allowed.

Ambras and Ellis swear they're prepared to protect the privacy of job seekers and protect employers against "professional interviewers." An eBay-like reputation service will help weed out those who are looking for a quick buck rather than career advancement.

In the works for about a year, NotchUp is looking to cut out the head hunter from the recruitment process.

"The hard part of finding great people and hiring them is getting them in the door," Ambras says. And, since recruiter fees can hit $30,000-plus for a hire making $100,000, he believes employers will see NotchUp as an economical alternative.

Of course, price won't matter unless the process produces quality interviews and hires.

"We only get paid if the system works," Ambras notes.

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