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.
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.
“What are your preferred locations?”
This isn’t bad. Next question.
“What is your GPA?”
I feel like I’m just answering an application form. Why did I even wear a suit?
“How important do you think community outreach is? Please describe a specific time…etc. etc. etc.”
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 really 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.