The Worst Interview Technique Ever - And Why It Could Happen To You

interview techniqueEditor's Note: While helping a job seeker with some advice I was dumbfounded to discover an interview technique they had just endured that I personally find disheartening and if it starts a trend, discouraging.

I asked them to write us up a blow-by-blow account of the experience, which they agreed to, under one condition, that it be written anonymously. 

The author is still in consideration for the job opening and wanted their name kept out of this account. But I can assure you the story is true. If you have had a similar experience, please tell us about it in the comments.

Last week, I was given the opportunity to interview with a great company. Not only was it the perfect job to break into the sports industry, but it was a job for which I'd be a perfect fit.

I was extremely excited when I saw the email inviting me to interview, but the excitement slowly dissipated as I started setting up for what the company called a "digital interview." Now, you read that title and you might think of webcams and speaking with someone through the internet.

You're only half right.

Through your invitation email, you are directed to click a link, bringing you to the website of an outside company who hosts the interview. It allows you to check your sound and audio before anything important, simply to make sure your camera won't cut you out of the interview process.

From there, you can participate in their practice interviews and tutorials on how to use the site. I didn't need the tutorial as the site is pretty self-explanatory, but I thought it'd be foolish not to take advantage of the practice questions. This gives you a chance to see how it feels to be in the interview and offers you the opportunity to see yourself answering questions.

This is how it works:

  1. When you click into the question, it will post the question to the left of your screen.

  2. On the right, your face stares back at you from your computer screen. Remember how in college your professors told you to practice your speech in front of the mirror? Well, that's pretty much what you're doing here.

  3. You have about thirty seconds to read the question before the camera starts recording (although if you're ready to answer, you can hit the 'start' button at any time).

  4. Once you hit the record button, you have about three minutes to answer the question.

You don't have a real person to talk to, you're just answering the question to yourself, out loud, in front of a camera. When you're done, there's another button to stop recording and that's to prepare for your sports job search ebook

You can't review your reply in the real interview and you can't see the next question until you complete the first. I don't have a problem with this part (because that's how interviews usually work), except that the computer has limited flexibility with the questions.

For example, one of the first questions asked by the computer was why you think you'd be a good fit for the job. If you tell them why by highlighting something you've done that you're extremely proud of, you have a good chance of being stumped on the next question. While an interviewer, who had a question on their list that you had already answered, might move on to another question, the computer next asked about a major accomplishment in your current or past roles that relates to the job you're applying for.

Do you talk about something else? Or do you just go into more detail about the accomplishment you've already discussed?

Once the interview is over, there's one more recording opportunity for you to give any further information on why you'd be good for their company. This is the kind of thing that you should usually be able to convey throughout the interview, but with cut and dry question/answer sessions, there is no chance to get a feel for personality.

It almost felt as if that last recording was the last chance to beg for a job, but it's not a chance to ask questions from those doing the interviewing. It just seemed like a very difficult way to make a first impression.

Our Thoughts On This Interview Technique

I can't even begin to explain how angry this makes me.

bad interview techniques
This looks better than staring at a heartless computer screen
I had a General Manager once, a mentor of sorts, who explained the most important part of my job wasn't making smart journalistic decisions, it wasn't managing the production staff or keeping a close eye on the budget - it was hiring good people. People that fit our culture, that will challenge us to be better and that will make our network a great place to be.

There is no way a computer recorded interview - with no connection, no personality, no charisma and no ability to listen - can derive the best out of a candidate, or set them up for success even if they are to be selected for employment. This starts things off the wrong way, introducing a robotic culture instead of a collaborative one.

I can hear it now - someone explaining this is 'just a step in the process', a 'gateway to a more personal interview step'. I don't buy it.

(Here's where I start sounding like an old man) Email and social media have ruined the art of face-to-face communication in our society - I am no better, considering I actually texted my wife in the other room last night. Shameful.

We as employers should want more personalization, not less. We should push our candidates to show they can communicate both verbally and in writing, not to a computer screen, to a person. Because that's what every job will require - talking to people, motivating, leading, managing.

This interview technique won't uncover any of those attributes.

Prepare yourself, I'm sad to say this interview technique could become a trend - a very bad one in my estimation.
By Brian Clapp | June 08, 2016
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