Before and After A “Digital Interview”

Before

There’s no doubt that the digitalization of business has had a great impact on how companies recruit their employees. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Monster, or even ZipRecruit have taken over how talent gets discovered and eventually hired. But rather than focus on how technology has changed the exposure in the process, I wanted to write about the how technology has impacted the interviewing itself. Why, might you ask? Well, there is Skype and Facetime to eliminate the inconvenience of distance, but recently I’ve heard of businesses taken even more advantage of online interview through simulated webcam interviews. To explain a bit further, the process involved receiving a question just as you would in a normal interview, then taking a webcam recorded answer and submitting a series of those videos as your interview material. I’ve heard there are nothing but uncomfortable, awkward, and disconnected. On the other hand, platforms such as HireVue, claim that digital interviewing has the following benefits:

  • “Convenience – We’re bringing the interview to you
  • Personalize Your Story – Digital interviews allow you to tell your story and highlight your experience in your own way
  • Fair – All candidates receive the same set of questions. All responses are viewed by our hiring team
  • More Exposure Across the company – Your digital interview will be shared across several hiring teams at Aon”

Well, there’s only one way to find out what it’s like. In literally just a few moments, I’m about to do my first digital interview. Now I wish I could say I’m doing this whole experience for the sake of the blog, but that is far from the case. I’m still in the search for an internship for this summer and this just happens to be my Thursday night. Absolutely riveting.

Okay, so I’m about to go into recording mode. I’ve shifted my housemate’s desk around his room to create my clean, solid colored background. I even had to peel his calendar and a photo of him and his girlfriend on vacation from the wall. Let’s hope this goes well.

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After

Holy shit. I honestly don’t know how to describe that other than holy shit. Wow.

Normally after an interview, I get to walk away and have an opinion of how I performed. I honestly can’t tell you if that went well or not. Let me try and explain.

The whole thing took about 35 minutes. Each screen has a specific timer to it so you move along with the progress of the digital interview and I cannot imagine how uncomfortable my video responses must be. I guess one thing that brought a small wave of reassurance to this awkward evaluation is that the company had pre-recorded videos of an employee asking the questions. But at the same time, it felt awkward that they were trying to recreate what would normally be a conversation.

Even before the video session, I had allotted time to answer what were called “essay questions”. I was prompted to enter my first question with a red rectangular box. Okay, no problem. Let’s get ready to type. My heart began to race a bit as I struck my finger against the trackpad and the question read as follows:

“Please state your college and major(s)/minor(s).”

Oh… cool. I was able to breathe for a second. I had 3 minutes to type my answer. Easy money.

*Click*

“What are your preferred locations?”

This isn’t bad. Next question.

*Click*

“What is your GPA?”

I feel like I’m just answering an application form. Why did I even wear a suit? 

*Click*

“How important do you think community outreach is? Please describe a specific time…etc. etc. etc.”

Shit. giphy6

I began to ferociously type away on my keyboard, thinking of every single cliche I could mention regarding my past experience of volunteering. Don’t get me wrong, I love the impact I have had on my community but I know I can explain my thoughts better in conversation than in writing. If it wasn’t for my Grammarly extension in chrome, I would’ve had far more spelling errors. As the clock ticked down to 15 seconds I turned on the jets to wrap my thoughts together quite nicely. As I slammed the period in at the end I took a breath when I saw I had 5 seconds to spare. But there it was. One of my verbs was missing an “ing” and I rushed to add it in before time runs out.

I typed  “ikg” then the screen shot to the next prompt. Awesome. Great start.

Now it became time for the video responses. These went a little better… I think… Again, not handsreally sure how they’ll be perceived at the end of the day. In general, I think I started off each prompted response in a very positive fashion, but it was easy to lose track what the overall message should be in my answers as time ran out. I tried to make “eye contact” by looking into my camera, but even that was distracting. Fortunately, I never ran close to time so I never struggled to scream any final thoughts, but rather I had this awkward pause at the end of each of my mini speeches where I made eye contact with myself and simply reached for the trackpad to end my misery. Each video was a one-and-done opportunity. No looking back.

In review, I think I can see why some companies do this. Our day and age comes with such easy access to technology that maybe it is beneficial to see a candidate try to express themselves on video rather than conduct a phone screening interview. At the same time, companies need to understand that business is made by communication and being able to hold a high-quality conversation requires a different skillset than holding what felt like the Emma Stone Easy A audition.

I will, however, say some good things about the experience. At specific points, the platform did automatically put PDF brochures about the company and the internship itself into my downloads. I was able to take some time to truly read more and learn what the company had to offer which was nice.

Overall, 5/10. Would recommend if you don’t have an internship moving into April of your junior year.

 

 

10 comments

  1. Very cool post! I love how you brought us with you through your first experience with the video interview. I find this whole concept fascinating, and it could be a huge shift in how recruiting works in the future. However, I also think the whole process kind of takes away from what I believe is a super important part of interviewing. I used to interview a lot of new hires at my old job and I found the most telling part of the interview was in the small talk before and after the actual interview, as well as the tangents and side conversations throughout the interview. These moments allowed the interviewer and interviewee to connect on a more personal level and like you mentioned, it would show the interviewees ability to hold a conversation (or not). Regardless of my thoughts on the topic, I love how you presented it in this post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This post was hilarious. The way you structured this and incorporated your firsthand experience with the digital interview process made it a really fun read. The main issue I take with digital interviews of this nature is that they eliminate any opportunity for a candidate to show the recruiters their personality and how they interact with others. If companies are relying strictly on processes such as these to filter out candidates, how are they confident the individuals they are sending through to the next rounds of interviewing will fit in with their company culture and will be able to work well with their other employees?

  3. Really nice post and great humor! I saw you gave the video interview process a 5/10, and while reading your post I thought perhaps this isn’t the best way to conduct an interview due to the lack of interaction and conversation with the interviewer. The good part about this interview is that it teaches you to develop writing skills, learning to articulate your thoughts quickly and precisely, and to communicate these thoughts from the top of your head without knowing what to expect. On the other hand, there is a lot lost from the lack of physical interaction with the interviewer and the ability to engage in conversation and respond.I still think it’s great that you gave it a chance, especially given your time constraint in finding an internship. I hope you get the internship that you’re looking for, and at least you had the practice!

  4. Even though the past comments touched upon this, I will state that this post was very informative and you managed to mix great humor into it. You have a great writing style.

    In my current job, I screen resumes, conduct interviews, and make reference calls for new hires. I feel like face to face interaction is very important. Like you said, communication is key to be successful in any position. When I interviewing someone I am seeing how they communicate and respond to statements or questioning. The digital interview takes away from this interaction. I can see this technology being used to further screen applicants, but not relied upon heavily for hiring.

  5. Great post! I think it was awesome that you created this post having done this step by step. I have never done one of these first hand but have heard that they are the worst because it is so cold. There is the missing human factor of having a true conversation that can make you stand out and be more memorable and really get to know and have a feel for the people that you may be working with in the future versus something that is pre-recorded. Interesting take on it!

  6. Very well written (and fun!) post! I liked the personal touch of it a lot. I have never experienced an interview like this before either, but just like others, I have heard about it from my classmates who have gone through a process like this.

    I can see why companies would choose to go about the hiring process in such way – it can save a lot of time and money for the recruiting team, and the sharability of the video can help with further screening on the hiring manager’s end. For large companies hiring hundreds and hundreds of employees, this could be a lifesaver. On the other hand, I feel like it could introduce unnecessary bias into the interview process, which could result in the company passing up on an otherwise great candidate. Knowing how stressful interviews can be, having the added pressure of limited time, and the lack of the possibility to interact and gauge the interviewer’s reaction to see whether the answer is indeed what they were looking for, or if you need to elaborate more, seems like a setup for failure. Hopefully, these conditions are also considered by the hiring team when evaluating the responses. Good luck with the job search and hope you get the job!

  7. Great post about the struggles of job interviews. When you think the process couldn’t be more stressful the company sends an email saying that the first interview will be online. From the point of view of the company, it is a great screening process which allows to save time and consider only those candidate that seem to be truly prepared for the job position. However, from the side of the candidate, it becomes more difficult to communicate your ideas and connect with the person on the other side of the screen when you are simply recording videos. I don’t think a rushed video of a couple of minutes can truly capture how well prepared you are for the position. Firms should come up with more creative strategies to recruit talent, and also save time. Even a phone call could be more effective from my perspective. Good luck getting the internship.

  8. Great post and very relevant on multiple topics. I also had the chance to experience of these digital interviews and i felt very uncomfortable and put off. I hated that I couldn’t make that human connection because I was more nervous talking to a camera. I did not like not being able to ask questions or see non-verbal feedback from the other person. I also felt that if a company was so impersonal then maybe i don’t want to work for them. I totally understand the need for this, like you said, it weeds out candidates and makes the process smoother. However, this takes away from the true connection you make in real interviews. I wonder how many companies actually do this now- and is it only for entry-level jobs or would they subject a high end executive to this kind of informal interview.

  9. Such an awesome and fun post! I can relate to your experience because earlier this year I also had to complete a digital interview via HireRight. I think in part companies are starting to use these to also weed out people who turn away from the challenge of a digital interview (at least I know I was very hesitant at first). Similar to your experience, mine consisted of 6 different questions with 1 minute responses. I wish I had a recorded person like you had reading the questions because that would have made this impersonal process a little more personal. I also left feeling like I did not know how I did, and I questioned who really watched my interview. In the future, I wonder if artificial intelligence will be able to screen digital interview responses and pick the best candidates to move onto the next round. This could be good if it’s effective and saves time, but I think I would rather have a real person interview me in the future.

  10. Interesting. Thanks for posting on your experience. I know that more companies are moving to these platforms and I expect them to get better at working out the kinks as they gain experience. We’ve moved to “skype interviews” for hiring faculty, which has been very helpful. Still old school interview, but overcomes the challenge and time required to go somewhere.

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