A reader writes:
I’m a college student about to get my degree this December. I thought I’d send out my resume to a few companies in advance, seeking entry-level positions or perhaps internships. One company responded to my application and asked me to fill out an online assessment form. After “passing” that stage, I was asked to do what I believe is called a “video interview,” where I have to record myself answering pre-set questions using HireVue.
I’m new to job hunting, and personally, I prefer the traditional face-to-face interview. Also, I’m very, very apprehensive and shy about recording myself (I don’t even take photos of myself!). I tried starting on the interview but somehow it felt fake or it felt like I wasn’t being sincere, simply because I’m talking to a camera. In the end, I didn’t do the interview.
I’m still very interested in the position though, but since they gave me a 3-day deadline to do the interview (it’s been a week now), I think I may have blown it. Do you think it’s a good idea for me to email them, explain myself and ask if I have any other options? Are video interviews going to be a trend, a natural part of the employment ecosystem?
Ugh, I feel your pain — I wouldn’t want to do that either.
You can’t really dictate the terms of an interview, though. If they want you to record a video of yourself, or talk to them over Skype, or whatever, that’s their call and you can’t really override it. (One exception would be if you didn’t have the right technology on your end, like if your web cam were broken. Although even then, while some employers would be willing to accommodate you, others would expect you to find a solution on your end.) So you’d need to figure out if you want the job enough that you’re willing to do something that makes you uncomfortable, or if you’d rather pass.
At this point, unfortunately, it’s probably a moot point. If they gave you three days and it’s been a week, you’re probably out of the running, because they’ll take it as initial evidence that you’re not responsive to deadlines or simply not that interested. (Unless you explained that you were, say, out of town and just saw the email or something like that.)
But personally, I don’t know why employers are using this type of technology, for two reasons:
1. Good interviewers don’t just run down a list of questions and never deviate from it; they ask follow-ups questions and build on what you just said. This technology doesn’t allow for that — it’s just you talking to yourself, with no interaction.
2. An interview at this stage should involve back-and-forth; it’s not an interrogation. At this stage, they should be giving you the chance to ask your own questions, not just answer theirs. You’ve already invested some time in their application process — writing a cover letter and filling out their assessment. It’s not reasonable to ask you to jump through another hoop before you’ve had a chance to ask your own questions and figure out if you’re even interested in investing further time.
The good news is that this type of screening isn’t yet widespread and probably won’t be. Good interviewers won’t do it for the reasons above.