I just had a first round interview for a gig with a nonprofit. The method of the interview was interesting, they were using an application called Sonru. You use your phone to record video answers to questions. A text question appears (eg: “Why do you want to work for this company”) you have 30 seconds to read the question, and think of an answer and then your camera turns on and a timer starts and you have to complete your answer in 3 mins after which point I assume the camera gets cut off, you can stop the camera sooner, if you’re finished. Then the next question pops up. There were 20 questions so I spent a little over an hour going through the process. You can’t stop the process once you start. There were some practice question to familiarize yourself with the platform and format. In addition to the general interview skills we all need, and the 2020 skills we’ve had to learn about presenting to camera, lighting, the best angle to be at on camera, this required a few new skills:
- The ability to use as much as of that 3 minutes without going over. Before I got into the interview, I didn’t know the expected length of the answers, I think if I did I would’ve grabbed that list of common interview questions and crafted responses that I could do in 2:30. Not a script, but an outline. I mean I have answers for those questions, most of us do, but I haven’t timed them out. If I can answer it in a minute and half, I never looked to pad the answer with more information to get closer to 3:00. Also if something is a strength so I spend 3:30 mins answering it, I never looked to trim it.
- How to use the clock but not let it freak you out. In my head I broke up the 3 mins into a few sections: In the first minute I tried to answer the question at a high level. The next minute I’d site a specific example from my career. I used the last bit of time to try and sum up. On some of the questions, I had he sensation that I was Keanu in Speed defusing the bomb which was ticking down. I had to keep that in check so it didn’t alter my speech patterns.
- The ability not to rely on the interviewer. Whenever I interview, I watch the interviewer for hints. (Did what I say strike a note with him, so I should emphasize it? Is that skill I mentioned something they don’t need so I shouldn’t mention it again., etc). When asked a technical question I'll try to answer as simply as possible and ask If they'd like more detail. I try to find a way to get the interviewers to discuss the problems then need solved. This way I can tell them how I solved similar problems at other organizations.
It felt like I was on the British Game Show, “Just A Minute”. For those who don’t know Just a minute is a game show where a contestant needs to talk for a minute on a topic without without hesitation, repetition or deviation. It’s actually very hard, especially to people who aren’t seasoned public speakers. The questions should have been phrased “Without hesitation, repetition or deviation tell me why you want to work for this organization and your 3 minutes begin….. now”.
Thankfully I had a hand on my stammering and stuttering... a few umms and ahhs but nothing that you wouldn't expect from the format. I think it went OK. Just … different but a sign of things to come.