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The Future is Here: Navigating a Digital Interview

When you imagine the future, you probably imagine flying around in spaceship-like cars through futuristic-looking cities, floating in the midst of outer space (And yes, I am taking this imagery from the Star Wars movies). However, if you think back to even just ten years, I bet you would’ve never imagined the things we have today. The concept of an iPhone alone is pretty futuristic to me — let alone the fact that it can do anything from scan your credit card to monitor your jogging speed.

One of the most recent “futuristic” things I’ve encountered in my job search is the digital interview. This is different from a Skype interview. In a Skype interview, you are communicating with another person via a webcam and still able to maintain normal conversation complete with verbal and non-verbal communication with another human being.

In a digital interview, you’re pretty much just talking to yourself. When I first found out I would be doing a digital interview for a prospective internship, I obviously looked to the CCO blog to see what we have written about digital interviews. The search results? Nada. Luckily, I have a friend who goes to another school (that one school in Bloomington) who had just completed a digital interview the week before.

Her synopsis? It’s really strange and awkward. I agree.

In a digital interview, you are given a mixture of short-essay questions and other written questions that you answer with a video. I first imagined it to be similar to interviewing with Siri (who I often have trouble communicating with). However, there is no other voice speaking back at you. It’s just you and your sweet computer screen.

When you first begin the interview, the program gives you the opportunity to rotate between three short practice questions. After posing the question, it gives you 30-seconds of prep time to gather your answer to the question. After recording yourself answering the question, you have the opportunity to watch yourself. I probably went through each question at least 4 times trying to perfect my answers to these questions. Let me tell you — it did not get any less painful to watch.

After realizing this, I decided I may as well start the “real” interview. Much like the practice questions, you are posed a question with 30 seconds of prep time for video answers and thirty minutes (I maybe used like 2 of the 30 minutes each time) for the essay questions.

While I struggled in answering the practice questions with grace and continuity, answering the “real” interview questions actually came much easier to me. I was able to construct well thought out answers in the 30 second preparation slot and was even able to jot down some key words or points that I wanted to incorporate into my answers. Knowing that this was the real thing helped me to step up my game a lot. Also, you do not get the opportunity to watch yourself answer the real questions like you did with the practice questions, or to redo them, so you have to be confident in knowing that you’re answering the questions well.

While the concept of a digital interview seemed foreign and unnatural to me at first (my mom’s reaction was “what’s that?! I am so old!”) I can definitely see the benefits of doing one. It allows you to complete your first round of interviews on your own time and show your strengths through both verbal and written communication.

The practice time allotted before each questions allows plenty of time for you to gather your thoughts and gain composure — something that isn’t available in an interview with an actual person. Use the practice time to make sure that you are giving a well thought out answer instead of rushing through the interview.

Also, just like in a Skype interview, be sure to be wearing professional dress (at least on the upper half of your body — although we recommend dressing professionally from head to toe so that you look and feel your best) and look presentable. Make sure your background is not distracting to the hiring managers and that you eliminate as much background noise as possible.

While the concept of a digital interview may seem uncomfortable and strange, it is a great way to learn about yourself in the interviewing process and develop well-constructed answers in the comfort of your own home without anyone there to put pressure on you to answer quickly.

Treat a digital interview like you would any other interview, and be sure to practice beforehand, get a good night’s sleep the night before, and act professionally. If you would like any additional help on preparing for your interview, consider stopping by the CCO during drop-in hours or making an appointment to do a peer mock interview.

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