Catching Up to the Idea

I just came across this article in the Wall Street Journal regarding how more colleges and employers are utilizing web-based interviewing to pre-screen MBA candidates and save on travel/recruiting costs. Ironically, my master’s thesis was on this topic – about twelve years ago! Interestingly, but unfortunately for some organizations of the time, the idea was well ahead of the technology. Video conferencing or interviews at that time resembled what I termed the “Max Headroom” effect. Desktop video conferencing in 1998 demanded an incredible amount of bandwidth, money, training, and patience. It was also unreliable. However, many of the same issues related to web-based interviewing are still relevant today despite the improved technology: the absence or reduction of non-verbal cues (body language), eye contact, environment, lighting, and sensory impact. I’m sure there are studies out there taking a look at these issues, but I’ve not had the time to search them out.

What’s also interesting about this article is how it demonstrates the paradigm shift occurring in college recruitment – impacted mostly by technology. Traditional college recruitment has been characterized by passiveness, minimal relationship building, lack of responsiveness, and employers waiting for potential candidates to come to them. What this article shows is that these standards are no longer valid. Technology is shifting the burden to the employer to be proactive, incessant, and responsive.

Technology has made college recruiting more complex and multifaceted. It gets more complicated everyday through blogs, social media, forums, networking sites, job boards, niche sites, search engines, and other technological tools. And while the goals are still the same, college grads are a lot more technologically savvy – they know the tricks of the trade. Hence, employers, like the ones in this article, are becoming more innovative and proactive: building, nurturing and sustaining relationships using an idea whose time has finally come.