As a senior in my final semester at Boston University, at the same time that I’m looking forward to the fast-approaching graduation day, I’m simultaneously consumed by the ambiguity of my job placement.
My father often told me about how he would be physically interviewed for jobs back in the ‘80s, with face-to-face interaction occurring early on the selection process — right after submitting a CV or resume. My experience with numerous applications is proof that, these days, unless you are a final candidate in the running, you are unlikely to see the person who has perused your application.
Before you get contacted by a real human working in human resources via email, you go through multiple steps involving application forms, psychometric tests and video interviews. In a BBC article, a student studying in Cardiff University discusses the lack of a personal touch in his job hunt, and affirms that the use of technology has hampered his search. While I agree with his statement about missing the personal touch, I would counter that technology has sped up and aided my search for jobs.
Right before I wrote this piece, I just finished another digital interview for a full-time position at a company. To elaborate, a digital interview is completely automated, and you answer a list of questions within a set time limit, while being recorded on your webcam. I can attest that more often than not, I’m not able to completely gauge how well I have answered a question, since there is no human interaction that I can gauge feedback from. Furthermore, it’s uncomfortable to watch yourself answer a question on a small screen on your laptop’s display. During a real-life interview, I often judge the interviewer’s facial reaction to my responses, and am able to accurately assess how well my interview went.
Now, this is not to say that I can’t deduce the success of a digital interview, but this holds true only for the traditional interview questions. In this era, most companies use out-of-the-box questions to see how quickly an interviewee can respond, even in the preliminary stages of the interview process. In the case of such questions, I do wish for more human interaction.
On the other hand, given the magnitude of applications received by most companies, they don’t have any other choice than to depend on machine learning and artificial intelligence to screen their applicants. Moreover, people no longer apply to jobs within their city or country. I have applied to jobs all over the United States as well as back home in Singapore. Given the 13-hour time difference between Boston and Singapore, it is cumbersome for recruiters and candidates to coordinate a suitable time for the interview. From the perspective of a recruiter, they don’t have any time or money to spare on candidates that are fundamentally unsuited for a position. By using efficient automated video interviews that simulate a face-to-face interview, they are able to streamline the selection process and save physical interviews for serious candidates. Seeing the numerous advantages that technology has provided us with it, it makes total sense to implement it into something as simple as an interview.
Ultimately, all of us are going to have to get used to the trade-off between human interaction and convenience in their job selection process. I have completed some of my video interviews as late as 3 a.m., simply because it worked best with my schedule. You get to choose an environment that you are most comfortable in, so the odds can be in your favor. Tech-driven recruitment is here to stay.