The Interview

Four weeks and counting until my secondment is over and I have to go back to my old team.

Attempting to avoid this outcome, I’ve been applying for other jobs, and last week I had some positive news – an interview!

But not a regular interview facing people across a desk, no.

Not even an on screen interview where you have to remember to look into the camera and not at the faces of the interviewers on the screen.

No, this was some other kind of fresh hell.

This was a pre-recorded video interview.

For those who haven’t experienced this before, let me explain.

You take the basic premise of an interview – questions are asked, questions are answered – and you take out all the human interaction from it. As the interviewee, I get a link to log into a website, some vague instructions, and then I have to open to process without knowing what lies within.

“Some questions may have a time limit,” says the chirpy woman in the introductory video, “some you may be able to re-record; and some you will only be allowed to record in one take.”

Thursday evening last week, I initiated the process.

Step 1: introduction video. No information is given on what this should involve, but at least I can re-record my answer multiple times. And I do. Multiple times over the next hour. What am I supposed to say? Do I cover my strengths, my experience, my “tell us about yourself” pitch? I finally record a version that is a condensed version of my application letter that I am happy with.

Now onto the five proper interview questions. It’s 9pm already.

The questions come one at a time with various two or three minute reply limits. No re-recording is possible for these. I read the question, I make notes, I set a timer on my phone while I rehearse. And rehearse. And curse. And rehearse some more. When I think I’ve got a relatively confident and coherent answer to the question I hit record and deliver my answer, trying not to look at myself on screen but only at the camera, trying not to look down at my notes, trying to look like I’m cool and I do this all the time and I have all this knowledge in my head and spend my days recording videos like this just for fun, for a laugh, aha-ha-ha.

I’m pretty sure I come across as a rabbit in the headlights delivering a deadpan and (whatever the opposite of vibrant is) delivery.

By the time I get to question five (something about teamwork), it’s coming up to 11pm and I’m exhausted. I do less rehearsal here. I no longer have the time or the energy. It’s my least polished response but also my most natural.

And it’s over, it’s done.

Now begins the wait to see if I can make it to the next stage.

Since I applied for this job, another job has been advertised in the same team. I want to apply and I probably will apply but I know if I’m shortlisted I will have to go through this video process again.

Maybe next time will be easier.

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