As regular readers know, I taught a strategy class to the Next 36 would-be entrepreneurs. During that process they would present their own ventures as cases. One of those ventures was Kira. Their idea was to provide a platform whereby employers would set out a series of questions and job candidates would be required to answer them in a video. That video was then uploaded to the Kira platform to be reviewed later as part of the applicants materials. The idea is that this could remove the need for an interview in some cases and provide a better screen for certain types of jobs — they were thinking of recruiting by retail chains. There was nothing like it out there.

Anyhow, during their case discussion with me and  perhaps because they had been taught it elsewhere one of the members asked me “well, how do you see us fitting into your business?”

At the time, and I remember this clearly, I thought to myself. “That has to be the most stupid question I have ever heard. I’m a professor for goodness sake. I don’t have a business.” And I gave a look to go with that thought.

Then I answered “well, I work in a business school and it is hard to see who we would interview … hang on a second … I guess we interview prospective MBA students. It is from all around the world. Near as I can tell a video answer to a set of questions would actually give a ton of useful information to our selection staff.” Pretty quickly after that I put them in touch with the MBA recruiting office at Rotman and Kira is being used for the incoming cohort.

Today, BusinessWeek profiled that activity.

Frustrated by the rote admissions essays they were receiving, the administrators at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management made a first-of-its-kind video component an application requirement, beginning with the upcoming Oct. 9 application deadline. With more applicants hiring admissions consultants and the abundance of information on the Internet about essays, Rotman staff believed aspiring MBAs were regurgitating what they thought the admissions committee wanted to read, says Niki da Silva, director of recruitment and admissions for the full-time MBA program. She and her colleagues, she adds, worried they were not getting an authentic view of each candidate.

“It had become an essay-writing competition and less about the applicant’s real story,” says da Silva.

….

The Rotman solution, which starts with the current admissions cycle, requires applicants to submit one 500-word essay, one 250-word essay, and the video. Before, they would have had to write four essays at a maximum of 500 words each. While pondering this dilemma about packaged essay responses, da Silva was approached by Kira Talent, a company started by a group of entrepreneurs who recently completed a Rotman-affiliated program, about a new technology it was selling to employers. The video platform Kira Talent offered would allow da Silva and her colleagues to screen applicants in a different way, she says.

When applicants are ready to complete the video portion of the application, they first view a video of da Silva asking one standard question that everyone has to answer. Next, they answer one of about 20 additional questions prepared by Rotman that’s chosen randomly by the technology.

Other schools have used multi-media as part of their applications but the way it is now being done makes it really simple for selectors. So I don’t know how Kira might impact on non-business school businesses but I can see it having a broader appeal; especially for schools like Rotman that have a large international cohort.

Kira won the Palm d’Or at the Next 36 or whatever it is they call the equivalent. Any professors out there might consider sending the Kira website link (http://www.kiratalent.com/) to their program offices. It speaks for itself.

And I guess I learned that sometimes there are no stupid questions.

5 Responses to Streamlining the interview process with online videos

  1. Zebee says:

    I just realised what bothers me about this.

    You have removed the ability to be gender/colour blind.

    Given the recent information about hiring practices in both science and orchestras, how is this an advance? Seems to me that it just facilitates hiring “people like us”.

    Which might be OK for comfort points but is it really what business schools should be promoting?

    • Hi Zebee,

      Because the videos are stored and archived securely, if any applicant has a complaint, the employer/organization can go back, pull up the video responses and explain justify their reasoning for not selecting the applicant (i.e. poor communication skills, unprofessional, etc). This is a huge advantage compared to in-person interviews, where there’s no real evidence aside from written notes.

      • Zebee says:

        But the science research was identical resumes with just the names changed, and the orchestral one was blind vs seeing the candidate.

        In other words the people discriminated and presumably had “very good reasons” to when they knew the gender of the candidate. They ascribed all sorts of things to that person solely because of gender. It was very clear in the science one that it was unconscious but very real bias.

        No one said “that one’s a girl, no way!”. What they did was decide in their subconscious that the candidate had to be worse and then find reasons why.

        If you remove knowledge of gender from the equation then there can’t be that unconscious discrimination.

        Yes my objections happen in in person interviews but I find it odd you think that people won’t have excellent justifications in this method just as they do in person. The word “unprofessional” alone is a wonderful example of that. Sometimes the justifications are cynical, most of the time they are sincere but code for “not one of us”. (I also find it amazing you think someone will check! How many interview panels have you been on?)

        To me this has all the pitfalls of in person interviewing but a gloss of “science” to pretend they have magically gone away. “We didn’t discriminate, look we are using Kira, this is technology!”

        I also note that this kind of interview selects rather strongly for appearance and ease in front of a camera. Which is important in some subset of jobs but not in others. (And is rather well known to discriminate massively against women, have you seen Hilary Clinton’s comments?) But if used in some would have to be used in others in the same company. I know very few technical people who would show up well in this and the ones I can think of off hand who would have a different split between good and bad technically than the ones who would not.

        Seems to me that what you are getting from this is (you hope) quick answers to canned questions that show grasp of material and/or thought processes. Along with encouraging demonstrated human tendencies to prefer people who look like the reviewer and are personally attractive. Which (as in the case of the orchestral auditions) overcame the desire for actual skill.

        If you want to have a better interviewing process, work out how to do blind ones where the interviewers don’t know the gender or colour of the person. Same idea of answers to questions but use an avatar of some kind, work on speech transcoders. Get them to make their decisions on what they say they are.

        So what are you teaching in your courses about the research into unconscious bias in hiring and effects it has?

        What are you teaching in your courses about this bias and performance measurement and review? About attractiveness and gender?

  2. Kevin says:

    Isn’t the literature on the effectiveness of interviews pretty damning? My memory from graduate school is that interviewing produces scores with low consistency across interviewers and low forecasting skill for performance. Schmidt and Hunter was the go to reference (http://mavweb.mnsu.edu/howard/Schmidt%20and%20Hunter%201998%20Validity%20and%20Utility%20Psychological%20Bulletin.pdf).

    Has something changed? Or is this a case of new technology reinforcing a bad practice?

  3. VidCruiter says:

    Online interviews are the future of recruitment.

    It certainly does not replace face-to-face interviews, but it saves you time by only conducting in person interviews with the best candidates. At VidCruiter, our products help you get to where you need to be faster and cheaper.

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