You might associate YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and gaming more with the goings on in a teenager’s bedroom rather than landing the job of your dreams. But ditch your preconceptions. Increasingly, these online channels are being used by employers to find talent – people like you.
Employers are now harnessing online technology more than ever to screen and select job applicants. As well as obviously saving time and costs, it’s also a way to increase the diversity of their teams by reaching out to previously hard-to-reach pockets of the population.
The two biggest recruitment tech trends right now are on-camera interviews and online cognitive assessments. They’re already being used extensively in graduate recruitment, as employers take as read that those applicants are totally au fait with the technology. But these methods are being employed more and more for other job seekers, and they still require the same diligent preparation and practice you would put into a traditional CV, cover letter and face-to-face interview scenario. Here are my tips on how to nail all these tech trends when it comes to landing a job…
Be camera-ready, not camera-shy
First interviews over Skype are now pretty common. Some companies even ask candidates to record and upload a video of themselves – McDonald’s for example has a Snapchat filter, where applicants can superimpose the company’s uniform on themselves before recording their 10 second video. And these Japanese companies have a similar strategy with Instagram.
Of course, there are some pitfalls. Some people have expressed concerns that unconscious bias through these mediums could lead to discrimination – after all, your race and sex (and maybe age, physical ability etc) are immediately on display. In addition, with a video or Skype interview, the employer will make an instant judgement on how well you communicate and fit with their brand.
So now, more than ever, first impressions count. It’s time to get really comfortable with presenting yourself on camera. But of course, eye contact, confidence and self-assurance all take practice. After all, TV presenters and newsreaders aren’t born with those skills, they learn them.
You can practice on your own or with a friend, but you must practice. It’s fundamental to coming across well in video. Here are some things to look out for when you’re reviewing your own performance:
• Body language. Don’t wave your hands about. It’s accentuated on a small screen and can be hugely distracting for the interviewer. The same goes for pulling faces, slouching or fidgeting. Don’t keep looking down at your notes or stare out of the window. To ensure you come across as competent and sincere you need to make eye contact – so look into the camera not just at the screen.
• Slow down. Remember, there can be a time lag when talking on Skype, so don’t talk over your interviewer.
• What does your Skype name say about you? Anything too jokey could create the wrong impression.
• Dress the part. You might feel a bit silly dressing up in formal business attire but you need to look as smart and professional as you would in a face-to-face interview. Looking like you’ve just fallen out of bed won’t do.
• Set the scene. Check the lighting, camera angle and the backdrop in advance – you don’t want the space behind you in the video to embarrass you. As with your LinkedIn and other social media profiles, ensure it looks professional. That means no inappropriate posters or piles of laundry. And definitely no pets, flatmates or family members joining in the fun. And lock the door if there’s the chance of a toddler breaking in… Yes, Professor Robert Kelly’s daughter was adorable but your objective is to get to the next stage of the recruitment process, not go viral.
A successful video interview is about practice and preparation, looking the part and making eye contact with the camera.
Online cognitive assessments
The other big trend I’m seeing is the rise online cognitive assessments. Sometimes disparagingly called ‘robot recruiters’, these tests can range from simple multiple-choice questions to computer shooter-style games.
It’s worth taking these tests seriously. They’re designed to scan anything from numerical and verbal reasoning to cognitive ability, speed and decision-making skills. It can feel a bit like you’re back at school but you really need to prepare for them like an exam.
• Reading the questions carefully. Many people are caught out by skim reading.
• Taking care over spelling and grammar.
• Checking if it’s a timed test. If it is, work out how long you have for each question.
• Choosing a time and place where you can concentrate and won’t be disturbed.
• Having pens, paper and calculator to hand.
• Being honest: psychometric or personality tests don’t have right and wrong answers so don’t worry about ‘not being good enough’.
The recruitment marketplace is constantly being disrupted and adapting is the name of the game. But whether you’re asked to upload a video of yourself or take an online test, the guidelines for a smooth and successful experience are the same.
Prepare, practice and be professional. Then you’ll have no worries – and you’ll be one step closer to landing the job of your dreams…
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