Things that you may not know if you never had a digital interview with Apple

Forget about those tips you read on Glassdoor or Business Insider, the entire process was much simpler.

I was instructed to sign up for an account on HireVue, enter a given code as a form of identification, and offer some practice trials to ensure the sound, lighting, and myself are comfortable enough before I embarked.

Three separate questions were presented in cycles of 30-seconds preparation and 3-minutes of answer. I could click on the button to leave for the next whenever I am ready to go before time’s up but I could not go back to the previous one to change my attempt. All my responses were video-recorded via the webcam which I would be accessed accordingly.

I thought the entire experience mimic a Skype conversation in the absent of another speaker or the making of a Vlog with my prospective employer as the sole audience, rather than a proper internship interview for an IT tycoon named after a fruit.

It was weird but I am afraid this may already be the trend of hiring.

As far as time, cost, and manpower-efficient are concerned, I also wonder if digital interview will truly help employers to navigate through the sea of potentials and land themselves on the right ones.

Primarily, we need to understand that speech is a unique form of communication. Unlike text, which constitutes passive strings of words for readers to decipher; speech is an active orchestration of facial expression, tone, body language, and social etiquette. Speech tends to be a one-off event, we seldom re-visit what we had said and therefore making the moment important. Moreover, we also picked up and handled non-verbal cues from our listeners in preparation for our next speech. This is how most of our daily conversations and dialogues take place.

Unfortunately, this seemingly basic form of interaction was totally absent from a digital interview as I interacted with no one except the reflection of myself on the screen.

Like all interviewees, I came prepared with a set of pre-conceived answers to deal with the possible questions that I was about to be asked. Because I was alone in the room while this interview took place, hence I had the liberty to note down some reminders and paste them near my laptop so that I would be constantly looking to my right, pretending that I was thinking even though I was not.

I counted my blessing as the first question hit the bull’s eye but I felt I was still on the losing end because I could not deliver my thoughts as normally as I would have when someone was conversing with me. It was not easy to talk continuously for three minutes in the presence of no humanised prompters.

I felt I was being tested on the precision of delivering a piece of memorised script in the most eloquent manner rather than an actual account of my abilities. I understood there must be a purpose behind such interview but I believed it would probably benefit Youtubers or those who had related experiences.

I was trying to search for systematic studies which compared the effectiveness and outcome of digital interview and traditional interview, so as to further support and illustrate my experience, but it was not that successful (I might have overlooked things).

Nevertheless, according to the result of a year 2014 study — “Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues” written by a group of researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, published on Computers in Human Behavior; 6th graders who were deprived of technology for 5-days, performed better than their peers who were on their usual routines, in terms of identifications of non-verbal emotional cues on photographs and videos.

Although not highlighted in the above finding, I wondered if we could boldly hypothesize that a certain correlation does exist between our fluency with screens (i.e., computer, television, or smart phone) and our perception of human emotions. If so, can we courageously assume that digital interview, as compared to other forms of interview (i.e., face-to-face or Skype), may easily fall prey for bad hire (i.e., candidates who are less inclined socially or the failure to recruit candidates that the company truly requires).

To add on, will certain groups of people (i.e., physically-challenged, visually-challenged, those who have limited access to technology etc.) be biased towards or against, since the context of such interview does not resemble a normal daily interaction and also the working environment in which the interviewees will eventually be. It will be ironic if some form of favouritism is exercised here because usability, user-friendliness, and enhancing human-machine interaction are often the emphases of IT and technology giants these days.

Lastly, because there was no way I could post any question, I was left idling to guess what I would be expected for this company and role. Prior to my application, I did turn my shoulders to different resources to find out more. Most of which spoke in favour of the firm, such as having a competitive pay, a good working environment, forward-minded co-workers, celebrate diversity and teamwork. No additional insight was given other than jargons.

My previous working experiences told me that corporate was never like a ladder but a maze because everyone was trying to find ways to survive and not many of them know where they are heading to, especially when communications between departments are kept minimal to avoid sharing of confidential.

I did come across information which stressed on the importance of keeping secrets in Apple, even among team-mates who are working on the same project, most of the time they do not know what their peers are doing. I am unsure the extent of authenticity here but I do know the consequences of information leakages, especially in the ever-ending rivals between technology businesses due to rapid advancements of the industry. However, under such ambiguity, how many of us truly relinquish ourselves to what the company is doing or are we just succumbing to the glamour that others would “wow” when they discovered where we work and how much we earn per annual?

I do not mind if the interview result did not turn out well or going for another round of digital interview, as I strongly believe that my next attempt will be much better after this try. However, I do hope that companies which are in favour of using HireVue or similar platform in near future, are crystal clear with the differences between expectations (i.e., using digital interview not because it is a trend but they know exactly the objective of using it) and reality (i.e., if digital interview truly sift out ideal applicants).

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