Q: I submitted an application online and was prompted to record a video of myself answering questions as part of the interview. This was a huge turnoff to me. Why are companies doing this? It seems very impersonal and unfair to me and a terrible way to select the best employees.
A: One-sided video interviewing is indeed becoming more common as part of the interview process. Companies recognize that screening a piece of paper is not as effective as they would like—and they also know that culture and fit within the organization contribute to a candidate’s success and so, enter video interviewing!
In video interviewing, organizations provide a set of questions to online applicants, which they get to practice answering once on screen before being prompted to record official responses for submission. Through this interactive process, companies can see additional aspects of the applicant beyond what appears on a resume: how you present, how you handle challenging questions, what your demeanor or presence is like, or how you deal with a somewhat stressful situation. You may see it as impersonal, but it can add dimension to an otherwise flat process—reviewing a resume or holding a phone interview. This process also allows for others to review the interview at any time in the process for multiple roles. Organizations are going to continue to find more creative ways to use technology to identify and recruit the qualified candidates they want. Embracing and adapting to the quickly changing landscape of the job search process will give you the best access to the greatest span of career opportunities.
I’m not sure why you think the process is unfair when others are participating in the exact same process for the job. The process may test a skill set that is part of the job’s criteria. How well do you compose your thoughts in a presentation? How comfortable are you with technology? Something that seems unfair and impersonal to you may add depth, provide evidence of qualifications, and showcase a style or personality—and that’s what makes an effective first interview.
Perhaps your concerns are in regard to potential discrimination or biases. Most candidates are on LinkedIn, so organizations are already likely to know what applicants look like. Video interviewing takes the one-dimensional LinkedIn profile a step further.
Since you know this will be part of more interviews, make sure you rehearse. Practice in front of a video camera or on your phone—you could even ask a friend to be in the room, off camera, as someone to make eye contact with and make it feel like an in-person session. Use this video practice to make sure no distractions come up in your official recording—no cell phones, barking dogs, or family members wandering into the frame. Some people prepare for interviews by writing down Qs and As and studying their notes. The most effective interview prep has always been to record yourself on video to catch the non-verbal aspects of your presentation: Where do you look? Do you make eye contact? Do you say “um” too much? Do you leverage parts of your personality, like humor, wit, and quick thinking? All of this can differentiate you from the competition.
Video interviewing isn’t everywhere yet, but it is becoming more of a norm, especially in organizations with significant recruiting and a good sense of who succeeds at their company. While you may not appreciate the process now, work hard to develop these skills. This trend is coming and will continue to change in exciting and unexpected ways.