The tech world is abuzz with startups developing new technologies to digitize the hiring process. Many find the standard approach of reviewing resumes and cover letters to be archaic and ultimately unhelpful when it comes to measuring the qualities and abilities of a pool of potential hires.
To help eliminate some of these roadblocks in hiring top-tier talent, interviewing with AI is gaining popularity.
Most notably, Unilever, the conglomerate behind billion-dollar brands such as Lipton, Axe, and Dove, have been utilizing AI to fill entry-level positions for the past year to what they consider to be a great success.
So what can you expect and how do you prepare for these changing trends in the job search?
What to Expect
Digital Interview Platforms
Some companies use asynchronous or one-sided video interviews as a screening tool.
If you’re not familiar with these, asynchronous video interviews are when the candidate records answers to pre-selected questions. The answers can be recorded at any time and then saved for interviewers to review later.
HireVue and Pymetrics are some of the most common platforms you will see companies use for these types of evaluations.
The algorithms will select the most promising candidates, then the hiring manager will take those pre-selected videos and see how they measure up against the key competencies they are looking for in the job.
They may still bring in the top-tier candidates for a face-to-face meeting to go more in-depth about things the video interview didn’t cover, so you may still have a chance to speak to a hiring manager in person.
The use of algorithms in the hiring process can look different for each company you’re applying to.
In the case of Unilever, applicants will apply online through LinkedIn or Facebook then will be directed to a series of games based on neuroscience. If the candidate’s skills have matched with the job requirements, they will then be sent to the HireVue platform where they will be asked to record answers to a list of pre-selected questions.
If they make it that far, they will be invited on-site to shadow current employees. By the end of the day, they will be told if they made the cut or not.
The company you are interviewing for may also use some or all of these strategies to onboard new talent.
In the absence of a face-to-face interviewer, expect to respond to on-screen prompts as a mode of question delivery.
These questions can appear in a couple different ways.
These questions come as pre-recorded videos that you can watch. You’ll then usually be given around 3 minutes to record your response.
These questions will appear as text that you will be given around 30 seconds to read before you prepare your response.
If you are applying for a role that requires writing or design, you can expect some questions to involve demonstrating those skills.
Typically, you will be given a prompt to complete the task. Often they will require some external research.
Be sure not to close the interview window if you need to go elsewhere for research!
It can be helpful to keep a Microsoft Word (or another word processor) window open in order to draft your response before submitting it, simply to double-check for errors.
Puzzles or Coding Challenges
Software development or data analysis role may require you to complete logic puzzles or solve coding issues.
You will likely be asked to code in response to a prompt in a language specifically required for the role.
It’s also good to assume you will be asked to explain why you chose to respond in the way you did. How you solve problems says a lot about your competency in that area, so be prepared to answer questions about how you’ve gone about solving the puzzles or writing the code.
Differences in AI vs. Real Life Interviewer
The most obvious difference between being interviewed by AI and a live interviewer is that the person-to-person dynamic isn’t there.
Algorithms are designed to look for certain key elements, such as smiles, intonation, speed of delivery, and other indicators of personality and engagement.
Unfortunately, if you don’t feed it what it’s looking for, it will conclude that you are not a good candidate.
A live person, on the other hand, will be capable of more detailed nuance in their evaluation of your skills and qualifications.
Therefore, your preparation should be tailored towards not getting nixed by the bots before you have a chance to sit down with an actual person.
Forget the Small Talk
One of the first things that happens in a traditional interview is a handshake and small talk before having a seat and getting down to business.
These are a few moments for everyone to get comfortable and set the tone for the conversation that’s about to take place.
There is no way to build rapport with a machine, so the social aspect of the interview is not something you’ll have to consider.
If you easily grow anxious in social situations, this may be a relief to you. However, you may find staring into a cold, unblinking camera lens to be just as unnerving as discussing the weather with strangers.
This is why you’ll still need to take steps to get yourself in top shape before your interview.
Good preparation should include:
Practicing Succinct, Yet Detailed Answers
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Approach, and Results. The idea is that you will craft a detailed yet brief answer that contains all of these elements, and practice until you can easily and comfortably answer even the toughest interview questions.
STAR It is a very useful way to build and practice your answers (especially for Behavioral Questions).
We have seen great success over and over again from teaching the STAR method.
It works like a charm to simplify and focus your narrative. Big Interview users come back time and time again telling us about how much more confident they felt and how much better they performed once they had their STAR stories.
We have compiled a ton of FREE resources on our blog that detail how to write your own answers using the STAR format and break down the most common interview questions, including the classic opener, Tell Me About Yourself.
Set Aside Time to Focus
Make sure you’ve set aside a time and place to record your answers without being disturbed.
Though the process is different than you may be used to, and it can feel informal to be interviewing to your laptop in your own home, treat your digital interview as professionally as you would meeting someone face to face.
Appearing distracted or in an environment with a lot of background noise will not go well for you if you make it past the bots to a human evaluator.
Practice with a Mirror
Once you’ve drafted your answers with STAR, practice delivering them in front of a mirror. Bots will be looking at a thousand little details in your mannerisms and facial features. Watching yourself practice will alert you to any habits you may not have been aware of before.
We know practicing isn’t glamorous or fun, but it’s much better to work out the kinks before your interview than in the middle of it.
Look the Part
As we mentioned above, an interview conducted by artificial intelligence is still an interview.
You should look professional in your videos, even if the camera only sees part of you.
Not only will you look spiffy, but dressing well will boost your confidence and put you in a professional headspace.
Take into consideration that colors will look different on camera than they do in person. For instance, white or pastels can wash you out, while wearing things that are too dark may make your face look very stark, depending on your complexion.
Do some practice wardrobe sessions where you test on camera which colors work best for you.
Record Your Answers
Some platforms give you only a set amount of time to deliver your answer. If you are unable to finish your thoughts before the time runs out, you will be cut off and unable to give the answer you have prepared.
Again, developing your answers with STAR will help you a lot with this. You will craft short, succinct, and very effective answers will put you ahead of the competition.
Some companies may give you multiple tries or do-overs depending on their platform and policies, but you should prepare as if you’ve only got one shot.
Recording your answers during practice will get you comfortable and confident with being on camera, as well as help you overcome any verbal tics or nervous habits you may be unconsciously repeating.
Look Inside Big Interview
Big Interview was designed specifically for this kind of training. With our practice tool, you can record as many videos as you’d like and practice at your own pace while customizing the curriculum for your own unique situations.
Video Interview Tips
Lighting, Camera & Hardware
While no one expects you to have a Hollywood grade set-up, you do want to be seen and heard clearly.
Try to find a room with good natural light so your face is clearly visible and not lost in shadow or over-exposure.
If you’re planning on sitting in front of a window during the daytime, close the blinds so you are not bathed in white light.
If your space is naturally dark, you can use a household lamp off-screen to help light your face.
Getting your lighting set-up right is a good thing to practice during your recorded video preparation.
Be mindful of your background, making sure it’s free of clutter or anything that could be considered unprofessional.
Stay away from very colorful or “busy” backgrounds that can cause distraction. Instead, go for a more neutral tone.
Make sure your browser is up to date and you have the most recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed.
Many technical difficulties can be avoided by double-checking these things before your interview.
Most laptops now come equipped with a built-in webcam.
If, however, you don’t have one, you can use your phone or tablet.
Don’t try to hold your device while doing your interview.
Invest in an inexpensive tripod, or prop up your device so it has you squarely in the frame.
Remember the bots are analyzing your facial features, so be mindful of angles and ensure your face is clearly visible and easy to read.
If you’re interviewing on a laptop or desktop, it’s natural to want to look at the window displaying you on the video feed instead of your camera lens.
It’s a good idea to position the video feed window near the top center of your screen so that your eye line will be towards the camera lens rather than away from it.
If you’re on a mobile device, you will likely need to interview through the platform’s app.
Make sure the app has been downloaded and you’ve familiarized yourself with its basic functionality before the interview day.
Test Your Equipment Beforehand
Test your video and audio equipment beforehand to make sure everything is in working order. Technological hiccups happen often, and sometimes can’t be avoided, but it’s best to do everything you can to make sure things will go smoothly.
You don’t want to lose time to a technical glitch, especially if your performance is being timed.
Impressing the Bots
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to know what every bot has been programmed to look for precisely, which can feel discouraging when being interviewed by AI.
However, there are things we do know about recruiting AI algorithms that can help you prepare.
In addition to standard interview preparation, (researching the company, analyzing the job description, practicing your answers, etc.), you’ll want to spend some time practicing for how to impress the bots.
What are some of the things they are analyzing about your videos?
AI have the ability to pick up on thousands of subtle facial changes that are nearly imperceptible to the human eye. But in general, some things you can count on them evaluating are:
Show a pleasant countenance as you answer. It can be easy to forget to smile when you’re focusing so hard on the questions, but try to remember to relax a bit during the process and let some of your natural personality out.
Avoid shiftily looking away, or outright refusing to look at the camera. Staring at a tiny lens can feel odd, but the more you practice the less it will bother you.
Articulate clearly with a neutral or bright tone.
Once again, recording yourself answering and watching the video back will help you evaluate if you are speaking too quickly, too slowly, or not articulating well.
Sit with an open posture, avoiding crossed arms, keeping your chin towards your stomach, hunched shoulders, or crossed legs.
You should appear relaxed, natural, and ready to handle any question.
Keywords are essential in any job application process, but AI algorithms are specifically designed to nix any candidate that doesn’t seem to be using them in their responses.
Analyze the job description carefully to see what keywords the company has used in describing the role.
Be sure to use their words specifically. For instance, if they mention experience with Facebook ads, be sure to mention Facebook ads in particular and not just social media management in general.
Don’t try to out-bot the bots by rattling off a string of keywords without cohesion. Remember, you are likely to be evaluated by a live person eventually, and getting past the AI in this way won’t ultimately serve you.
Build keywords into your STAR answers during preparation. Doing this will give you a tight, solid, answer full of rich keywords without being incoherent.
The world of recruiting may be changing, but with good preparation, you can beat the bots and land the job. We’re here to help guide you every step of the way and can’t wait to hear your interview success stories.