In both high school and college, I served on the school newspaper. I loved those playful journalism days, especially thriving on the research, the sleuthing, and conducting interviews. Many years later, in my management career, one of my favorite aspects of the job was conducting interviews and recruiting. I developed a strong track record for finding the right person for the job and building top-performing teams.
Anytime I interviewed a candidate, I’d put my combined journalism and leadership skills to work. I examined every detail, beginning with how well-groomed and presentable the candidate was. I’d ask myself if they fit into the culture of our company. I’d examine how prepared they seemed for the interview. Did they bring any materials, and was it just for show?
But before the interview started, I’d do what I could to make sure they were comfortable. I’d give them the most comfortable chair, even if it was my own. I’d offer them water, a coffee, or a snack. Since there was the potential to work side by side with this person, I needed to build rapport and develop a professional relationship with them right then and there. To get them to relax, I needed to establish trust, and I had to get the banter going. The more trusting they were, the more they’d lower their guard and be honest about who they were as a candidate and as a person. The goal was to make them feel like a person. When someone feels like you, they normally like you back and feel more confident and at ease.
So, to create a reciprocal atmosphere, I’d open things up by volunteering a little anecdote about me, my workday, a coworker, or something that might make them laugh or smile and put them more at ease. I’d trust them with a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work-life or culture and what it’s like to be on the inside looking out. This didn’t mean I would hire them, but it aided me in making a more informed decision. Typically, once a person feels more at ease and less guarded, their true colors shine through, and the better of an idea you’ll have of their conduct as a professional. Once the interview was underway, I would put my attention to detail to work. I would listen carefully to what they were saying, how consistent their answers were from question to question. I paid equal attention to what they weren’t saying. If I felt they were holding something back, my curiosity would be piqued, and I’d get more creative with my questions. I’d pay attention to their body language as well. If they felt heard, they’d smile, tilt their head, and scratch behind their ear. If they felt exposed, they’d ride up their shoulders and rub the back of their neck to protect themselves.
Now, as things come full circle, and I manage my own business as a professional writer, I regularly perform the same kind of research as from my journalism days. And as luck would have it, I still enjoy composing interviews as a regularly contributing writer to MockQuestion.com. When I first became familiar with assessment vendors through my work here, such as HireVue and Modern Hire, my initial assumption of the technology was that it served a similar purpose as AI-driven Resume and CV software, which parses, eliminates, matches, and tracks applicants. Yet, I learned firsthand long ago that this type of software has a margin of error. Many “misplace” resumes when encountering unusual characters, uncommon formatting, and separating bars or graphics on a document. They frequently misidentify them as inconsistencies or grammatical errors and eliminate those candidates from the pool. This translates to talent never getting in front of the hiring authority.
So, when I started learning more about assessment vendors, I wondered how effective these algorithms were and if they had similar design flaws. So, I started asking questions. I learned more about how these AI models assessed each candidate. Understanding that AI is imperfect and just as capable of making mistakes as the people it is learning from, I wondered how it determined which candidates are eliminated from being passed onto the hiring authority. What was its margin of error?
From my research, I learned that HireVue’s interview guides consist of a preset system on their platform, where each company can choose from categorized interview questions that best apply to them and narrow them down from several sub-categories. I learned their behavioral interview questions were developed by their IO Psychologists. These typically consist of the following uniform situational judgment structure: “Tell me about a time when you faced this situation. What were the steps you took? What was the impact of your decision?” I deduced that this structure assists the algorithm in making its decisions on classification.
HireVue advertises that their assessment models are trained to mitigate bias, only evaluating skills, experience, and company culture fit. I learned that the algorithm not only studies the recorded interview for the consistency of a candidate’s answers from question to question but also examines behavioral cues, vocal cues, professional appearance, surroundings, and the consistency of a candidate’s body language with what they verbalize.
Then, I questioned why they offered advice to candidates taking a HireVue Interview. Advice such as to relax, be more comfortable, lower your guard, and tell all. Or to enjoy the convenience of taking your interview anytime, anywhere. Or suggesting that if you can’t find a professional setting, use the background blur feature.
When you look at the advice they offer, it serves the same purpose as the methods I employed when interviewing a candidate. Which then circled me back to what I looked for in a candidate when I performed an interview. Based on that information, I was able to separate HireVue’s good advice from the bad. I determined its margin for error - how it might eliminate you as a candidate if you’re backlit and it’s unable to read your expressions, or how it might misinterpret you looking at yourself on your computer screen as looking at your feet, signaling a lack of confidence.
So, your goal as a candidate is to convince the algorithm to graduate you to the next stage and to get you in front of the right person. The way to do this is by understanding how it works and giving it what it wants. You want to come across as a confident and experienced professional. And lastly, you want to stand out and come across as a perfect candidate for the hiring manager who reviews the recorded video later because their opinion is the only one that matters.
Your goal is to deliver a great interview with sincerity while putting your best foot forward. HireVue’s goal is to increase its profit margin through its platform, product development, and marketing. They aim to protect their reputation for having effective AI that will help their clients screen “unqualified candidates” from “top performers.”
Think of HireVue as a bouncer at a club. You just want to get inside and be seen. But first, you have to stand in line, and you have the right look to get in the door. So, avoid giving HireVue’s algorithm any information it can use to parse and eliminate you from being passed onto the hiring authority. Your goal is to work the HireVue system while delivering a strong interview. This is the key to getting an in-person interview in the next round.
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