Recently I was listening to a podcast called EconTalk featuring Kevin Kelley as a guest.
Kevin is the founder of Wired Magazine and is often referred to as a guy who predicts the future — not in the Nostradamus sense, but from a technology perspective.
Kevin has a new book out called The Inevitable. It’s about how the world will change in the next 20 years. In his book and on the podcast, Kevin said something that really caught my attention as it relates to interviewing. To paraphrase, he said:
The advances in virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence will push humans further and further away from physical contact and in-person communication with each other. While these artificial interactions will seem incredibly real, humans are still wired to want a more authentic and intimate experience. So, in the future, people will place a higher value on real in-person communication, not a lower value.
What caught my eye about this statement is something that I’ve believed all along. While I’m a huge supporter of using technology to improve the interview process, I don’t think that technology will ever replace the value of a face-to-face, human-to-human interview.
At least for companies who care about their candidate experience.
There’s just something about greeting someone in person, shaking their hand, looking them in the eye and having a real conversation. You can’t replicate that environment using current technologies. And if you’re making an important hire, I think companies will continue to place a premium on this type of interaction.
I believe that over time most companies will adopt video interviewing. I’ve been using video interview technologies for about 6 or 7 years. While I find these tools incredibly useful, I believe they have their place for certain parts of the hiring process.
I also believe that some companies who care less about their candidate experience will opt for the efficiencies created by online assessments and recorded video interviews.
But there is a balance to using these tools.
If you rely too much on them, the voice of the candidate (via reviews on Glassdoor.com), will be highly negative. Today, many candidates still consider these approaches to be impersonal. That will change over time, but right now, it’s a pain point.
In other ways, I believe that AR and VR technology will improve employment branding. We will have virtual reality campus tours and other forms of immersive employment brand activities. In fact, I led the building of one of the first ever augmented reality job fair booths a few years ago and it had a tremendous impact on candidate engagement.
In other areas of the hiring process I think that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will provide us with bots that will be helpful for scheduling interviews and helping candidates complete applications and new hire forms.
That day is coming very soon.
I’m fairly certain that, right now, someone is working on a solution to eliminate interviewing altogether using some super-secret algorithm. The algorithm or bot (or whatever we call it in the future) will source, screen and predict who would be the best candidate for your company and automagically send them a job offer — sight unseen.
That day is coming, but its effectiveness will not be practical for the vast majority of companies or jobs.
In the end, I think Kevin Kelley has it right. The words “virtual” reality, “augmented” reality and “artificial” intelligence symbolize that these technologies are not real. And no matter how advanced software gets, humans will always value a real, in-person experience.
As old school as it sounds, I think face-to-face interviews will remain the low tech hold out in the wave of oncoming high tech interview technologies.