I was interviewed by an Avatar . . . .
As one who hadn't looked for a new job since gas was about a buck a gallon and postage to actually mail a letter was only 22 cents (mailing a letter alone should tell you how long it's been) I realized that many things had changed but some not for the better in the job hunting process.
Take for example the role technology plays in the job search today.
Just when I thought I had seen it all . . . I was interviewed by an Avatar. Yep. An Avatar. Her name was “Ann”, she wore a paisley scarf, and this is her story. Mine too, I guess but I am sure the view from her perspective was far funnier than from mine.
Take a deep breath, job hunters, as this gets a little painful. The experience went something like this:
I sit down at my computer at the scheduled interview time, thinking I am doing another Skype interview which have become so popular. I log into the appropriate site and wait. My computer screen opens and a cartoon woman, an Avatar, if you will, is sitting at a desk with her arms folded. "Hello, Carol", she said in a soft voice. "I'm Ann and I'll be doing your interview today. Let's begin by saying your name"
"Carol Koepke", said I, thinking this was going to be interesting.
"Oh c'mon.” she says. “You can do better than that. I can barely hear you".
"CAROL KOEPKE!" I scream at my screen.
"Thank you", says she. "Now let's begin."
At this point the first question comes up on the screen and the second I open my mouth to answer it, the camera on my computer comes on and they record my response. The second I stop talking? Zwoop. The screen goes black and I'm back talking to "Ann".
Now "Ann" is sitting on the edge of her desk. Legs crossed, arms folded, looking like she is going to have a casual discussion with me. "Thank you for that", says she and the next question comes up on the screen.
I answer and once again the screen goes back to “Ann”.
This time “Ann” must clearly be thinking she has other things to do than talk to me, for she is standing, and is pinching off dead leaves on a potted plant in her office. She offers up some encouragement and then the next question pops up on the screen.
At this point I have decided I have had enough of this entire process, so I begin to interact with "Ann", albeit a one sided conversation. I compliment her on her paisley scarf, her perfectly coiffed hair, her practical work shoes (not too high of a heel) and ask where her kids go to school. All the while answering the interview questions and all the while knowing I was being recorded. Unfortunately, “Ann” did not respond to my questioning but then again, I really didn't expect her to.
After my final answer, the screen goes dark and I sign off. And within 30 minutes my phone rings and it's a live HR professional laughing and saying that my interview was the funniest one they had seen and they needed to get me in for a "real interview".
A real interview, thought I? What the heck was what I had just done, and if it wasn't real, why waste my time? But as I found on this transitional journey, oftentimes, my time wasn't really valued. And what I really found interesting is when did companies forget that interviews go both ways, with both sides wondering if the "fit" is right?
So, in the end, that job turned out not to be a good fit for me. I know I need to be in an organization that values it’s people. And an Avatar doing an interview? Doesn’t leave you feeling that way.
Who ever created this software (and the companies that pre screen with it) get a failing grade in my book. We're talking about people. We're talking about people’s livelihoods, incomes that support families and make it possible for things in life.
While I love technology as it makes my life easier every day, I think technology in the job search needs to benefit both sides. And in this instance, it was a abject failure in this job hunter's opinion.
But know that I wish “Ann” well in all of her future endeavors. And be sure to tell her hi! if you meet up with her during your job search.