Jeffrey Vallis is a freelance writer and communications specialist living in Toronto.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

What the job interviewer didn't see

Have you ever heard of a video questionnaire? I hadn’t until a few weeks ago. I received an invitation to participate in the next stages of the selection process for a job I applied for, which involved completing a video questionnaire.

The email explained that my responses would be recorded using the camera of my laptop and submitted to the hiring manager for review.

I already find interviews terribly intimidating. So trying to navigate this new technology while focusing on my presentation and performance, but not having anyone to build rapport with, wasn’t the most appealing idea. The invitation’s claims that it was “a very simple and easy to follow process,” did nothing to calm my nerves.

I Googled “video interviews” and found a very extensive and informative blog that covered all aspects of the interview, including appearance, technology, lighting and the actual answers. It was great information, but I felt overwhelmed at the suggestions that I go out and buy clamp lights and light filters and a stand for my laptop, so that I wouldn’t look like an amateur. Luckily, I only had 48 hours to complete the video questionnaire, so I was forced to just put my bedside lamps on either side of my laptop, and place it onto the biggest box I could find to elevate it to eye level. The photo below shows my very expensive and professional setup.

My video interview setup.

My video interview setup.

The interview itself was OK. A question appeared on the screen, and I had 30 seconds to read and prepare, then 2.5 minutes to respond, with a timer taunting me from the corner, ready to cut me off. I’m such a social person that I found it so damn hard to talk to myself and not get immediate visual or verbal feedback from another person. 

I recorded the interview by placing my phone behind the screen to record my responses so that I could watch and learn from the experience. The biggest thing I learned: I make a lot of faces. I hope this isn’t what I look like during an actual interview! I also talk to myself a lot, but I think that's as a result of the lack of human interaction. I put a highlight reel together from the 20 minute interview. Watch it in the video above.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the successful candidate for the job. But if this is the way the recruitment and hiring process is heading, I’m prepared to nail it the next time.