Efficiency or Accuracy ~ Can you have one and still the other? This is the dilema hiring managers and recruiters are facing in the age of automation. With the number of applicants continuing to rise, (Yes, even in market like this one) the push to streamline the hiring process continues to escalate. Everyone benefits from a more efficient hiring process, right? Automated responses and digital application processes pushes candidates through the hiring process much more quickly and on their own time. Automation frees hiring managers and recruiters from pouring over thousands of resumes and conducting hundreds of pre-screening conversations.

Trends in Interviewing

Job Seekers: This ain’t your parents’ interview!

But is everyone really benefiting from these changes? Is the push for efficiency negatively impacting the accuracy of hiring? Can an Applicant Tracking System be relied upon to select the best and the brightest candidates?

To combat the potential pitfalls of an automated hiring process, companies are implementing innovative ways to screen and interview potential candidates to get a real time, reliable picture of their assets and problem solving skills. And if you’re on the hunt for the next great opportunity, be prepared to do things a little differently.

What’s New with Interviews

Video Interview

This goes beyond a Skyping. Although, you’ll be doing plenty of that, as well. Video interviews are used as a pre-screening technique, allowing companies to pre-record interview questions. This initial screening process is beneficial to both the organization and the candidate. Juggling schedules and back-and-forth emails trying to coordinates times and locations are eliminated, saving both sides the hassle. It also eliminates expensive travel for out of town/state candidates – an expense not all organizations are willing to cover. As the applicant, you can now listen to questions, prepare your answers without feeling like you’re on the spot, and send them back at your convenience. Additionally, hiring managers can now evaluate candidates apples-to-apples because each candidate is given consistent criteria through standard questions that will not vary based on the interviewer. Ideally, this will eliminate inconsistencies and interviewer bias.

Automated Voicemail Interview

Like a video interview, the benefits to the automated voicemail interview are convenience and consistency. Applicants are sent an email with a phone number and passcode with an expiration date. Once the candidate gains access to the 4 screening questions, he or she has 2 minutes to answer. Because of the limited time to respond, hiring managers feel the applicant’s responses are more natural and reliable. (No time to Google “Where do you see yourself in 5 years.”) There are a few drawbacks to this type of interview. First, technical problems always arise on both the company and candidate end. Poor connections, dropped calls, indiscernible questions are just a few. Additionally, there’s little room for applicants to process their responses or even correct or elaborate on an answer.

Interview Trends

Casual interviews benefit nervous candidates and give managers a better sense of the candidate’s personality.

Casual Setting Interview

Remember being interviewed for your first job while sitting in the food court at the mall or on a bench outside the store? (I’m still waiting to hear from Express!) Casual interviews are making a come back. In order to decrease the candidate’s nerves and get a better sense of his or her personality and potential culture fit, interviews are conducted in coffee shops or over lunch. This less formal environment is being implemented more and more. Don’t worry, you won’t have to list your extracurricular activities or GPA while the smells of Sbarro pizza wafts by you.

Virtual Reality Interview

These simulated 3-D environments test a candidate’s skills as they navigate the 360 degree platform. By manipulating objects and completing assignments, interviewers get a sense of how the candidate approaches and solves tasks. While still a fairly new practice, several platforms are successfully in use already. Of course, there are still a few drawbacks. Most of these simulations take place on the premises, eliminating the convenience factor. Additionally, these programs can be pretty pricey. However, it is a great opportunity to see your candidate in virtual action.

Job Auditions

No one can dispute that the best way to assess a candidate’s potential success is to watch them work in real time on a real-life project within your organization. Managers get a great sense of whether or not the person fits with the culture and works well with others. It’s also an excellent way for those who aren’t strong interviewees or have less-credentialed resumes to shine. While it may be the best idea, it has the most amount of complications. First, logistics can be a nightmare. Is the candidate an employee? If so, you need to compensate them for their time. This takes paperwork and is an additional cost not every company has to spare. Also, is an organization willing to take a risk on a potential hire mucking-up a current project? On the candidate’s end, there’s a significant risk of giving away your ideas or setting a precedent about working for free. (Here’s a great article discussing things to consider if you’re asked to do a job audition.)

What new interview techniques is your organization implementing?