#TBT: Interviews, AI and the Digital Transformation

woman using a picture phone in the 1960’s

The process of interviews doesn’t seem a likely source of digital evolution, or much any evolution at all. But that simply isn’t the case. As AI and digital transformations become more advanced, their use expands and is beginning to permeate all corners of our business processes, including the formerly rigid interview process.

Past Interviews

Long ago - well, until a decade ago - interviews were clunky, time-consuming and stressful experiences. Necessary and unavoidable on either side of the table, HR departments struggled to find new ways to enhance the experience by changing modes of efficiency - either through better scheduling practices, preparation techniques, or locating new networking events. But the interview process itself remained unchanged.

It entailed a series of back and forth questions in stuffy conference rooms limited to education and experience, benefits, pay and PTO. That was if your newspaper-printed job ad reached a candidate that even fit the position, and you both found time in your schedule to fit the hour-long interview. Not to mention the lie candidates needed to tell their current employer for the afternoon off - unless there was enough time to squeeze it in on a lunch break. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel pressured and anxious just thinking about it. Large corporations looking to fill top executive positions would basically be required to fly in their potential hires, wine and dine them as part of the process, because there was no alternative to meeting them unless a phone interview sufficed. Which was often not the case.

That’s not quite how it works anymore. Although we’re sad to see the fancy plane rides and four-course meals taken off the corporate interview menu, we’re glad new technological advances have loosened the stiff, buttoned-up process a little.

Digital Transformation

Just a year after the invention of the telephone, science fiction writers and scientists were inventing concepts for videophones. Without the suitable technology available to make it happen at the time, the idea was left for writers and speculators of what the future would be like. It didn’t take long for AT&T to jump on this concept though and by the 1930’s a two-way videophone was in an experimental stage. It wasn’t until the 60’s that they were able to make the picturephone available to the public. These were accessible in phone booths and cost a pretty penny making them an unpopular calling option. 

In the 90’s, AT&T released a videophone unit for over $1000, but the US market was less than impressed with the idea. The videophone concept would eventually see success at the hands of Steve Jobs (who else?). But first, Skype launched in 2003, developed by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis in Estonia. If you recall from our previous TBT blog, that’s just one year after the launch of LinkedIn. Within a year, Skype had a million users, audio conference calling, and a public release for Mac. 

Webcams hit the market in the mid-90’s, mostly for corporate executives, at a whopping $100K. Those lucky enough to afford such a device could use the internet - then a fairly new thing - and video conference software for internet-driven video chats. Through the decade and into the 2000’s webcams lowered in price and were eventually integrated in laptops as a basic feature, giving video conference access to anyone with an internet connection and a computer.

That leads us to the present. According to an OfficeTeam survey, 60% of HR managers are now using a video conference service such as Skype or Google Hangouts accessible via computer webcam or cellphone, to interview candidates. The positives to this type of interview far outweigh the negatives. 

The Rise of AI

Video Interviews

Some HR managers allow the candidate to record their video interview at their convenience, answering predetermined questions about themselves and their resume. This allows them to deal with any technical difficulties or time constraints without embarrassment or your interference. For candidates who don’t feel comfortable taking time off from their current job to sit in an interview, it alleviates scheduling stress and you don’t lose out on a potentially perfect applicant due to schedule conflicts.

With the rise of social media as a tool for networking and recruiting, video interviews allow HR managers to interview potential candidates who aren’t in the local vicinity without spending a fortune on last minute flights and even more scheduling conflicts. This broadens your search, enabling you to find the right candidate, no matter where they are. 

New AI video interview platforms are equipped with facial recognition, sentiment analytics, neural language processing and machine learning. Most of these platforms have learning technology, meaning the more you use them, the better they get at identifying the right candidates for you.

Chatbots

AI-driven chatbots are a relatively new addition to the interview process. They generally collect information from the candidate about their resume, ask screening questions, answer questions about the company, and schedule interviews. In a recent survey, 58% of candidates are comfortable interacting with a chatbot and 66% see no issue with using a chatbot for interview scheduling and prep. This saves you time and energy pre-screening your candidates before even a video interview.

According to a recent study, 14 hours per week are lost to manually completing hiring and other HR administrative tasks. 100% of candidate sourcing, and 20% of manager-related hiring tasks can be automated using AI or another digital technology. These numbers show how important the addition of technology has been on the hiring aspect of HR as a whole, but also relate specifically to how much time and energy is saved and can be put into vetting the right candidate, not just the available candidate.

Interview Content

Interview content has remained relatively the same, with a few exceptions. Candidates are more likely to want to know about the company brand, their community involvement, and workplace culture. Recruiters are more apt to discuss candidate fit within the culture, adaptability, and the candidates willingness to perform. As Lauren Levine with SparkHire says - “Technical skill can be taught, the right outlook simply can’t be.”

The future of the interview process has arrived - we’re in the thick of it now. With emerging technology in AI and computer software, the interview process has loosened up from the tightrolled, in-person experience discussing benefits, PTO, and technical skills, to a loose AI and video driven experience focusing on cultural fit and engagement. In the years to come the interview may look completely different, but for now adapting to these new technologies is paramount to corporate success and quality hires. The machines have arrived - what a time to be alive.

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This article is part of a Throwback Thursday series on technology in HR. Critical Research is excited to share lessons learned from the past to make a better future for tomorrow. We strive to make background screening a simple and transparent process for our clients and their prospective hires, bridging the gap between interview and orientation.