By Jeremy Chang
With the job market as competitive as ever, there is increasing pressure on students to secure internships before they graduate and look for jobs. This is especially the case with many humanities students who have picked degrees that do not lend themselves onto a natural career path. However, securing an internship nowadays is no easy feat with the whole process becoming more and more tedious.
Most companies offering internships have moved their interviews onto online platforms such as HireVue and Pymetrics. For those of you not familiar, interviews on these platforms may consist of being shown questions to which you have two minutes to prepare a recorded answer or, playing so-called ‘games’ that test your compatibility with a company’s culture. From here, AI is used to eliminate candidates who are unlikely to be a good fit with the company. This may be through reading micro-expressions to gauge a candidate’s passion or looking for candidates who repeat keywords from the job description. Nowadays, a conversation with an interviewer, be it in-person or virtual, has become the exception rather than the norm.
There is something flawed about a programme that finds the ideal candidate based on how quickly one can tap the spacebar when shown a particular icon on their screen (a genuine test I had to do). You can imagine the dread on my face when, thinking a certain task measured responsiveness, I hastily tapped the keyboard to find that I had selected the option saying that I would steal 100% of my colleagues’ bonuses. Yes, it is saving companies precious amounts of time, and they can filter out weaker candidates with relative ease. However, do virtual one-way interviews with their lack of a human element, actually allow hirers to see whether a candidate would thrive in the workplace with real people and face-to-face interactions?
Virtual interviews have replaced assessments that give candidates a chance to showcase their true personality. Interviewers can no longer tailor an interview to allow a candidate to showcase their full potential. Instead, everyone is given the same monotone assessment with the same situational questions time and time again. One may argue that an AI programme can wipe out biases and level the playing field, but who is to say that AI does not contain any bias as well? Could AI be eliminating good candidates before they are properly looked at by hirers?
Effectively, interviews are no longer about striking that connection with your interviewer to showcase your passion for the role, nor is it about fostering interesting dialogue where interviewers can look at your thought process. Rather, it is about who has the best-prepared answer. If a question you had not prepared for appears, you better hope that you’re able to come up with a coherent answer within the two minutes preparation time and articulate it in front of your video camera without making a fool of yourself.
Furthermore, many students simply do not have the time to prepare for interview after interview alongside their academic commitments. With many companies posting about internship opportunities during summative season, this only adds to the immense stress students feel. The last thing any student wants to do is to waste a good half of a day conducting a fruitless virtual interview when they have summatives to work on as well. Candidates should be able to go into interviews knowing someone at the company has reviewed their application and given their application proper consideration.
If hirers want to find the best candidates, they too should be giving candidates the attention they deserve. Hirers can conduct group interviews on Zoom to maximise the number of candidates they go through. Although still incomparable with a face-to-face interview, at least candidates are given the chance to show a bit of flair through their conversation with hirers and other candidates. Recording yourself reading a pre-written answer or playing an aptitude-measuring game just does not do candidates justice for the effort they put into applying for internships.
Image: Iyus Sigiharto via Unsplash