What is the first impression that you get when you hear the word “interview”? Let me guess, a closed room and a table with stern looking individuals sitting on the opposite side and watching you intently through their glasses.

technical interviews

Scary, isn’t it?

We all are afraid of exams, an interview is just like that with an added tension of making a good behavioral and physical impact besides an intellectual one.

It is normal to be afraid and nervous when you know that you will be evaluated, scrutinized and judged for everything that you speak, every point that you put forward, and every decision that you have made, maybe even a couple of years back.

So, how did it all start? Job interviews, as we know it today, had not always been so. It’s the result of 100s of years of gradual socio-economic, cultural, psychological and technological transformation that resulted in interviews as we know it today.

Let me tell you a story, how did it all start….

How did jobs begin

In the beginning, people didn’t fight for jobs, they fought for survival. It was called the hunting and gathering culture or the forage culture. The men went out for hunting while the women and children gathered food.
Let’s move to 1754 A.D

jobs and interviews

The ancient societies of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, and Rome all recognized the need for training in craft skills in order to have a sufficient supply of artisans to do the work. The Code of Hammurabi, a set of laws from Babylon dating to the 18th century bc, required that artisans teach their skills to young men. So, they trained apprentices to carry on their work.

In the period between 1700-1800, jobs were passed on from generation to generation. Like if the father was a craftsman, so would be his son. Now,, what would happen if he did not have a child to pass down his skills to?

This was when apprentices were born. Apprenticeships were less like internships and more of a binding contract of servitude. “Job openings” were created when the tradesmen did not have children. They passed on their professions to apprentices.

Fun fact - Benjamin Franklin served as an indentured apprentice in printing to his older brother.

1800, the era of Industrial Revolution!

jobs and interviews
The industrial revolution created many low-skilled jobs in factories in factories, across American cities. Employment was dependant on performance, with unskilled workers easily replaced. Thereafter, even the machines replaced few of the jobs of the traditional craftsmen.

There was a rapid technological advancement after the industrial revolution which led to growth in education, advancement in the transportation sector and thus created more jobs.

The advancement in the transportation sector started in 1830 with the completion of the first U.S railroad. This leads to an emergence of interest in the transportation sector, with Ford Motor company introducing the model T in 1908.


Then comes 1917 with the famous - Woodworth Personal Data Sheet**. Sometimes known as the Woodworth Psychoneurotic Inventory was a personality test, commonly cited as the first personality test, developed by Robert S. Woodworth during World War I for the United States Army. It became widely used in psychological research and led to the development of many other personality tests.

The test was imitated in other industries to screen out employees who won’t adjust well to the workplace. The focus on adjustment leads to the importance of judging candidates on cultural fit.

Then came the 1920s, with more college-educated individuals entering the workforce, employers needed a way to evaluate potential hires.

In 1921, Thomas Edison created a written test to evaluate the knowledge of the candidates. The test was leaked and published in the New York Times.

first interview
Thus, the first interview was born

Google's interview questions are notoriously hard, but they are not the first to go for impossible interview questions.

When hiring at his laboratory at Menlo Park, Thomas Edison demanded that his employees have a diverse education and knowledge base.

Some of his questions were:

  • What is the first line in the Aeneid?
  • Who composed Il Trovatore?
  • Which countries supply the most mahogany?
  • Who was the Roman Emperor when Jesus was born?
  • Who was Francis Marion?
  • Where is the River Volga?
  • And many more….

The year 1876 is marked by the invention of the first telephone. Fast forwarding to 1969, the internet is born; 1984, the first commercial mobile phone is released and finally in 1991, the World Wide Web is born, thus making sure that our lives will never be the same again.

Thus, candidate assignment tests begin to move from an in-person interview strategy to an online screening tool.

technical interview online
As I had said before, there are many many reasons for the interviews to turn out as they are today.*

Never has been there such a drastic advancement of technology as after the creation of the internet. After the launch of social professional networks like Linkedin and other platforms like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, there was a paradigm shift in recruitment.

Fun fact - 62% of job seekers check employers out on social media. 43% of employers use social sites to research job candidates.

technical social recruiting

How does interviews happen today?

The days of compulsory 1:1 meetings are gone. More than 60% of employers use video interviews for remote hiring. In fact, the concept of remote work is also gaining vast popularity. More than two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity. Offering remote work options reduced employee turnover, and “job attrition rates fell by over 50 percent,” according to a study published by Stanford University

Fun fact - Currys, an electronic store based in the U.K asked job candidates to dance during interviews to assess their personality and cultural fit.

funny interviews

Elements of gaming will be used in an estimated 25% of the redesigned business processes this year - including interviews.

Also, with the emergence of a candidate-centric job market, the concept of personalized and outbound hiring is gaining prior prominence. 36% of employers reported talent shortages in 2014, increasing the focus on assessment testing and skills-based interviews and over 55% of hiring managers value hard skills over personality while hiring.

So, how does the future of job interview look like?

Both the candidates and the employers will rely more on technologies, for example, the rise of smartwatches will enable employers to conduct screening candidates on the go. Popular video sharing platforms like Snapchat will lead to short form interviews that will force candidates to sell their skills in 10 seconds or less. The emergence of voice analysis technologies will further ease the task of evaluating candidates.

future of technical interviews

Technologies might change or the way of conducting interviews might evolve, but there is no doubt that it will continue to be a central part of the hiring process.

Liked this article? Read how AirCTO is changing the tech-interview landscape.