As many as 86% of all employers, according to Harvard Business Review, are now limiting or even eliminating human involvement in the initial stages of the interview process and replacing the interviewer with AI.

In fact, a report by Forbes estimates that 99% of Fortune 500 companies now use some form of automated tool as part of their hiring process. How did we get there?

AI video interviews began to gain popularity around ten years ago, as companies increasingly adopted technology-driven solutions to streamline their recruitment processes. COVID-19 drastically accelerated this, as organisations sought alternative ways to screen, interview and recruit during social distancing and lockdowns to save time and resources. And now they’re here to stay.

A recent article highlighted that roughly four in 10 companies will be using AI for job interviews from 2024. Of that number, 15% of employers said they will rely on AI to make hiring decisions without ANY human input.

Why do employers and recruiters love using AI?

According to a study by Gartner, it’s because AI video interviews can reduce time-to-fill positions by up to 50%.

  • They’re efficient. Employers can screen significantly more applicants with much less pull on human resources.
  • They’re cost-effective – a report from Deloitte highlights that AI-driven recruitment processes, including video interviews, can lead to cost savings of up to 40%.
  • They vastly expand the candidate pool.
  • They enable companies to identify and hire top talent quickly.
  • In theory, AVIs remove implicit bias and subjectivity, focusing on skills rather personal details. More on that later.

While AI clearly saves time, effort and banishes some of the mundane tasks for recruiters, some of the major players in the finance sector have taken a stand.

Only last month, the Big Four accountants warned applicants not to use AI to complete applications or online assessments in a bid to retain integrity and authenticity in the recruitment process. One mid-tier firm has installed plagiarism checkers that review phrases and paragraphs, and cross checks them against typical AI responses.

But if you’re switching roles in 2024 and beyond, you’re statistically very likely to encounter automated video interviews (AVIs) so it pays to be prepared.

What to expect in an AVI

Gone are the human interactions and real-time cues you get from an interviewer, which give you an immediate sense of how you are doing as well as subconscious feedback via body language.

You’ll have a limited time to answer pre-set questions on a platform (SparkHire, MyInterview and HireVue are just a few of the most popular) which are then recorded within a designated timeframe – and everything will be analysed. AI algorithms then analyse your video, checking your facial expressions, how and where you use keywords and even your tone of voice. They’re clever on an observational level, too. An example from HireVue detected when candidates were wearing a hidden ear-piece to receive information from another person throughout their video interview.

“The first time I did a video interview, it was super nerve-wracking,” recalls one student interviewing for summer internships in investment banking.

“It’s definitely an anxiety-inducing situation to have a timer at the top of the screen. And there is a learning curve with how to say everything succinctly and fit in all the points you want to make.”

How to make it work for you

Many AI interview platforms suggest “just being yourself.” And this is what candidates can often find difficult. Faced with an AVI, they tended to behave in unnatural ways.

We’ve heard from several who report back that they’ve had to adjust themselves in ways they thought would make them look better; keeping a rigid posture, a fixed gaze, a fake smile, speaking in a monotone and using their hands as little as possible. Ironically, while trying to make a good impression, they felt like they were becoming robots themselves.

If you’re contemplating a move in the near future and anticipating an AVI,  here are our top tips for a successful outcome.

  • Set the stage. Find a comfortable, quiet, well-lit spot free from distractions and interruptions. Computer vision can analyse what it sees around you so opt for an appropriate, uncluttered background. Check the tech works well ahead of time. You don’t want to be on mute…
  • Prep like a pro. You’re going to be grilled by an omniscient bot so make sure you get up to speed on the company: research its background, core values, mission statement, recent media coverage – and be very familiar with what the job description outlines.
  • Practise talking to … nobody. Respond to set questions out loud, record yourself, tweak as required. Check whether you repeat any particular phrase a lot or whether your eyes might be scanning horizontally if you’re reading notes off-screen. Sometimes you only have one minute and one take to get this right so the pressure’s on.
  • Pepper your responses with relevant keywords: you’ll get these from your research on the company and from the job description but also run them through Chat GPT – there’s something extremely satisfying about using AI against AI. Bring the keywords naturally into your conversation together with evidenced examples of where you added value and demonstrated competencies, in previous roles.
  • Be real – even in AI-led interviews, show enthusiasm and positivity. It’s going to feel one-way, so you’ll be missing out on the cues that you normally get in face-to-face, in-person interviews, but don’t let that put you off. Use gestures, smile and nod frequently. Look into the camera to mimic direct eye contact, it’ll make you seem more present and in the moment. Speak naturally, stay on track with your answers, let your personality shine through. Remember that AI places an increased emphasis on how you say things – not just what you say.
  • Give it the human touch, too, despite the lack of human opposite you. Technical skills and experience may have got you to this point, but your soft skills are what will get you the job – and your next one. Transferable soft skills are the new future-proof currency in tomorrow’s job market, so make sure that your communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability and empathy skills are actively highlighted in your responses.
  • Check your digital presence. Be aware of your digital footprint – you’re going to be scrutinised. It’s particularly important that your LinkedIn profile and personal branding are up to date, engaging and professional with a great head shot and headline.

AI doesn’t have EI

In interviewing, AI can’t (yet) pick up on subtle cues, body language, and nuances in communication which means it’s hard to establish rapport with candidates, empathise with their experiences, and assess their interpersonal skills effectively.

The basic premise is that AI treats every applicant the same way, where a human interviewer might not. But that doesn’t necessarily follow through because AI has been made by humans, who can transfer bias to any system they create. As an example, in 2018, Amazon abandoned a computer programme that used machine learning to score job applicants after developers realised that the tool discriminated against female candidates.

“Having worked in global recruitment for many years, I’ve watched the growth of AI in this sector with real interest. Automated processes might be good for assessing aspects of a role that don’t require emotional intelligence, but doesn’t every job require human interaction of some sort? And the more senior the role, the greater the soft skills required to lead with authenticity and courage.

Candidates tell us that AI-driven interviews can feel transactional, insincere, robotic – and we know that a positive experience at candidate level is vital to attract top talent and promote a resilient and powerful employer brand.

 For me, no algorithm can replace the connection that comes with authentic exchanges. Only humans can make nuanced judgments, establish rapport and assess a candidate holistically.

The priority is now about balancing AI tools with a human approach to counter that sense of depersonalisation and retain all-important emotional intelligence. I’m pretty confident that AI won’t be picking a CEO anytime soon…”. Victoria McLean, CEO, City CV

While we welcome the benefits technology can bring to recruitment and career development, it can’t build your personal brand authentically, guide and advise you on the right direction to align with your human hopes, dreams and aspirations, create a compelling CV or expertly coach you to make soft skills your strong suit.

Contact our sentient, non-robotic team today for personal coaching to ace your next AI interview.