Sept. 16, 2020

How to land a job when companies have shifted to virtual hiring

Companies are increasingly turning to virtual hiring methods, including interviews that don’t involve human interaction, write Joshua Bourdage and Eden-Raye Lukacik, Faculty of Arts, and colleague in Conversation Canada

“I’m applying to internships right now and pretty much every employer makes me do a HireVue interview. I usually do fine at in-person interviews but for some reason talking to a robot makes me choke up and stammer. Does anyone have any advice for improving my HireVue skills? Is there a website where I can practise?” Reddit user

Companies are shifting towards virtual hiring. With staggering unemployment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are looking for work for the first time in years.

Those returning to the market may be shocked to find hiring has increasingly moved online. This has further increased during the pandemic. Adapting to remote work, 80 per cent of recruiters surveyed by a recruitment company reported using video in their interview processes.

One virtual hiring trend rapidly gaining traction is the asynchronous video interview, or AVI.

No conversation

An AVI is different from a Skype or Zoom interview, because it involves no online conversation with an interviewer or organization. Applicants receive an email invitation to participate, click a link and then record audio or video responses to the questions.

Even before the pandemic, AVIs were becoming more common. For example, one common interview platform, HireVue, works with more than a third of Fortune 100 companies, and has conducted over 10 million interviews.

AVIs can be convenient for organizations: They may be faster and cheaper than traditional interviews, may increase the number of applicants and can reportedly decrease the amount of time required to hire someone, as well as reducing travel costs.

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AVIs can increase the number of applicants for a job.

Piqsels

After the AVI, interviewers score the videos and pick the top candidates, or in some cases, a computer algorithm screens and scores the videos.

Many companies are adopting AVIs, and job seekers are likely to encounter them.

Applicants may have negative opinions about AVIs and the companies that use them, but AVIs vary widely in their design. For example, applicants may have more or less time to respond or prepare their answers, may have the chance to re-record answers or may be allowed to take breaks.

While companies are increasingly adopting AVIs, research has lagged behind. How should organizations administer AVIs? How can applicants be successful in AVIs? Our research labs have been examining these questions. Here are our recommendations for applicants and organizations:

Applicants

  • If there is a practice question, use it! Interacting with a camera can be uncomfortable, but remember that a human evaluator will likely see your recordings. Make sure to engage non-verbally with the camera (look at it, smile, etc.) and consider the impression you might create (avoid looking down, cursing when frustrated). Practise shorter or longer answers to common questions (for example, describe your experience in one minute and then three minutes). We provide a link to a free practice AVI at the bottom of this article.

  • If you can choose when to complete the AVI, you re-record your answers or have unlimited preparation time, use these resources as you see fit. If you are experiencing anxiety, take a break, write down where you struggled, and try again.

  • Consider your video background and appearance. Human evaluators can use your background to judge you, and attractiveness and style are even more important in an AVI. Choose a neutral background. And, while it’s tempting to dress casually, particularly if at home, dress as you would for an in-person interview.

  • Present yourself honestly. Research indicates that the best way to make a positive impression is to focus on honestly describing and promoting the skills, abilities and fit with the company you have rather than “faking it.”

Organizations

  • Design AVIs to create a positive applicant experience. Candidates form impressions of a company based on how it hires people. Using AVIs can backfire if top applicants decline the AVI invitation or end up turning down a job offer. Design AVIs to make things fairer for applicants. For instance, provide a practice question for applicants to get used to the platform. Offer flexible options for candidates, such as when to complete the interview, re-recording opportunities or more time to prepare before recording. Let them know what to expect. This can be helpful for applicants who are anxious, have child-care responsibilities or face pandemic-related challenges.

  • Technology is no substitute for proven best practices. Interviews are most likely to result in a good hire when they ask behavioural or situational questions aligned with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for the job rather than questions like: “What are your greatest strengths?”

  • Be cautious about using artificial intelligence to score candidates. While some AVI companies offer to automatically score interviews using a computer algorithm, the jury is still out on how effective these are. What is actually being scored can be unclear. There is new legislation about disclosure when using AI to evaluate candidates. Although all algorithms are different, there is a risk for bias against minorities and gender stereotyping. When considering using AI, get information from the AVI company about these issues.

Read more: Facial analysis AI is being used in job interviews – it will probably reinforce inequality

  • Be cautious of biases. Because one can quit watching an AVI at any point, there is a temptation to make snap decisions. This might lead to biased decisions. For example, raters may conflate poor connection quality (either out of applicants’ control or indicating lower socio-economic status) as a lack of competence. Similarly, the biasing effects of physical characteristics are particularly exacerbated. Video backgrounds can also convey personal information (for example, political affiliation) that can unfairly affect hiring decisions. Ask multiple evaluators to assess the same interview, and use standardized evaluation criteria.

If you’re interested in trying a basic, free video interview, click here.