Job Seekers Face Virtual Interviews -- WSJ By Dahlia Bazzaz
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(music) Job Seekers Face Virtual Interviews -- WSJ
Recruiters are turning to video meetings to speed up hiring and widen their reach By Dahlia Bazzaz For job seekers looking to make a good first impression, a working webcam and a tidy room might be the new firm handshake. First-round job interviews are the latest part of the hiring process to undergo digitization as companies use video interviews to cut recruiting costs and times. Cigna Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. are among the employers now asking some applicants to log on to a website and submit video responses to interview questions in lieu of talking with a human. The method has grown in recent years as nearly everyone has access to a laptop or smartphone with a front-facing camera, and companies say it is an efficient, fair and inexpensive way to process hundreds of applicants. Salt Lake City, Utah-based HireVue Inc., which provides video interviewing software for Goldman Sachs and 600 other firms, said it hosted nearly three million video interviews last year, up from 13,000 five years ago. Most video-interviewing programs require applicants to click a link or install an app. Interviews begin with a prompt such as "Tell us about a time you had to deal with a conflict" that stays on-screen for about 30 seconds. Then, the camera turns on and the candidate has anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to respond before the next question pops up. Human-resources staff then review the videos and pass along promising applicants to managers for consideration. Applicants who make the cut are typically invited to a one-on-one interview. That doesn't always mean it will be in-person, though. Varsha Paidi, a software engineer hired by IBM last year, had subsequent online interviews and eventually received her job offer via text message. Speeding up the hiring process allows recruiters to look at more applicants than before, giving companies wider reach, said Obed Louissaint, the human-resources lead for IBM's Watson division. Applicants, however, say that computer-guided interviews take some getting used to. Amy Hall was never the type to get nervous during job interviews, but when the 29-year-old had to complete a video interview last year for an internal job switch at Cigna-Healthspring, she recalled feeling apprehensive and camera-shy. She waited until after work hours and used a computer in the IT department. With the door closed, she clicked a link to Cigna's video-interviewing site. Replaying footage of her interview responses was "very uncomfortable" at first, she said. She resubmitted two responses, but ultimately found her stride and even preferred the video format because, she recalled, "you're not trying to perform." Last January, she got the job as a senior data analyst managing records for Medicare doctors. Video interviews have significantly reduced travel costs for Cigna recruiters. Frank Abate, a senior recruiter there, said one of his colleagues racked up more than $1 million annually just traveling to meet candidates. Since adopting video interviews four years ago, that colleague's expenses are now under $100,000. Companies say they seek similar traits in video interviews as they do in traditional interviews. Recruiters at IBM and Cigna said they evaluate candidates based on how well the person communicates his/her thought process, whether the person answers all parts of the question -- and whether he/she makes eye contact. According to Mary Wilson, a Cigna hiring manager, Ms. Hall's interview stood out because her responses seemed like they were ...