IT Center Blog

Onboarding – digital and with heart

August 18th, 2021 | by
Two women in a video conference smile at the camera

Tanja Wittpoth-Richter interview on digital job interviews
Source: Own illustration

Digital job interview – convince from home

Since last March, job interviews at the IT Center have been conducted digitally. Tanja Wittpoth-Richter has been group leader of the Marketing and Event Management group at the IT Center since August 2018. As an experienced manager, digital job interviews also mean a change for her, This is not always easy. Tanja tells us in this interview how she reacts to the new situation and is still able to judge whether the applicants fit into the team.


Janin: What were your first thoughts when you learned that job interviews would now take place digitally and that you would have to assess your future employees via video?

Tanja: At first, I was a bit disappointed and had hopes that we could make it happen live after all. However, we realized very quickly that interviews with a mask were not an option for us. Digitally, without a mask, we could at least see the facial features and reactions. This also gave me the opportunity to visibly smile encouragingly and thus signal to the person that he or she is on the right track.

Janin: What can applicants use to make a good impression and convey their personality in a digital interview?

Tanja: I notice that there is often less nervousness than in the on-site IT center. The applicants are in a familiar, comfortable environment in which they feel safe. So, from my point of view, many conversations are also more informal, more relaxed, not as uptight. People were usually more open, but maybe that’s also because they could peek now and then. Of course, applicants can take an infinite number of notes, and in live interviews I have rarely had the experience that someone brought notes with them. From time to time, I also had the impression that they were doing some research on the Internet.

However, the applicants were particularly impressive with slides, mockups or graphics that they showed us by sharing their screen. We always give the applicants small tasks in advance and so they could easily show us how they approached them and present their results.

It is important for me to get to know the personality also digitally, what character traits does the person have, how does he deal with disturbances – for example by the parcel carrier – and how well can he follow my explanations. But questions of interaction are also important to me. For example, I was irritated by an applicant who used the first form of address throughout. Not that I think I’m stuffy, but I didn’t expect this in a job interview, so open and honest communication in the interview is very important to me.

Janin: How do you get an idea of whether applicants* fit into the team during the digital interview?

Tanja: I try not to be so serious, try to come across as relaxed and sometimes make funny/ironic comments. If the person responds, he or she has (my) sense of humor and can laugh (along). That’s a very good prerequisite for our group.

Janin: During a face-to-face interview, applicants* get a good impression of the on-site location and the working atmosphere. How is that impression conveyed digitally?

Tanja: Good question … we try to describe the work situation and climate honestly and in many words. Nevertheless, I came up with the idea of including photos as well, so that we can perhaps convey the atmosphere even better. But it will never replace a walk through the premises.

Janin: How does digital differ from the face-to-face interview?

Tanja: On the one hand, it’s more stressful because the technology sometimes goes haywire and there are more disruptions on all sides, which you can also rarely influence. The parcel carrier might ring or a child might come into the room. On the other hand, it’s also more convenient. It’s easier to be on time, since you don’t have to rely on public transportation, etc. In addition, it would be quite possible to wear sweatpants and something chic on top. Completely after the slogan: outside swank, inside rank.

Janin: What is falling by the wayside in your eyes? Is there anything in particular that you’re missing?

Tanja: The overall package. It’s a bit like “The Voice of Germany.” You only see one part, you don’t know how the person moves, is he rather confident, awkward or rather afraid. How does the person dress, from the feet to the head we unfortunately don’t get a picture. But all this is part of the personality, which helps you to estimate and judge the whole person. That’s what’s missing and makes it a bit more difficult for us.

Janin: Can you imagine offering digital job interviews in the future as well, or would you rather go back to the roots?

Tanja: In any case, back to the roots. But if the applicant lives far away or is on a semester abroad, for example, then I think it would be nice to continue offering the digital option.

We would like to thank Tanja for the interview and are happy to have learned more about digital job interviews from a leader’s perspective.

Responsible for the content of this article are Tanja Wittpoth-Richter and Janin Vreydal.

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