by Meridith Levinson

Job Interviews, Lies and Videotape

Jul 26, 20114 mins
CareersIT Jobs

Do job seekers work harder to impress hiring managers when they know they're going to be videotaped during a job interview? Hardly. See how regrettably a handful of job seekers conducted themselves when they were taped during interviews.

Would you interview for a job if you knew the job interview was going to be videotaped? It probably wouldn’t stop you, but knowing you were going to be on camera might make you more nervous, and thus compel you to make an even better impression. Then again it might not. 

That’s the finding of Steinar Skipsnes, a marketing professional who posted a legitimate-looking ad for what was actually a fake job with a fake startup on Craigslist, and subsequently recorded job interviews with the people who replied to the ad. Job seekers believed they were applying for a real job with a real company. 

In e-mails exchanged with supposed job applicants, Skipsnes told them that the company filmed its operations (including job interviews) for marketing purposes and asked them to sign a release form before the interview stating that it was ok for the company to tape them. Skipsnes says more than 20 people interviewed on camera for the fake job. 

You’d think job seekers who knew they were going to be videotaped during a job interview would have been on their best behavior, but you’d be shocked by some of the statements they made and the foibles they revealed, consciously or unconsciously. (See, Know Thyself: Career Advice for the Clueless.) 

Consider, for example, the job applicant who cited the “lack of responsibility” when asked why he enjoyed working in retail in this 30 second video:

Also consider the job applicant who said not leaving a job after six months was her greatest accomplishment:

Perhaps you’re not shocked by any of this. Seasoned hiring managers have probably seen it all. 

In e-mails exchanged with early this week, Skipsnes, who didn’t have time for a phone interview because he had just been married and was preparing to go on his honeymoon, wrote that he staged the job ad and interviews as an experiment, “to gain insights into interviewing.” He wanted to find out, according to his Website (as in, buy stock in yourself), what job seekers should say or do during job interviews to increase their chances of being hired. 

“I would say the biggest takeaway, which isn’t that shocking or juicy, is that there is no hidden, unlocked mysterious secret to interviewing for a job. There is no, ‘Do X and you will be hired,'” he wrote to “It’s kind of like people looking for the secret to getting rich. Everyone wants an easy path to wealth. Well, the secret is, work really, really hard. …and abide by the lessons I outlined on the Web page and you won’t have trouble finding work.” 

What are those lessons? Pretty standard job search advice: tailor your resume to specific jobs, do your research on the employer, be prepared to explain why you’re a good fit for the job, don’t show up late for the job interview, make a good first impression, ask insightful questions during the job interview, etc. 

It’s clear from the videos Skipsnes posted on his site that he also learned what job seekers shouldn’t say and shouldn’t do during job interviews (See 7 Ways Job Seekers Self-Destruct). 

I really don’t know what to make of Skipsnes’s experiment. It seems like more of a lark than anything to me, albeit an entertaining one. Some of the videos are so dryly funny that you wonder if the interviews are staged and the participants are really actors. I give Skipsnes credit for coming up with the idea and executing it so well. 

Clearly, Skipsnes possesses tremendous marketing savvy. According to his profile on wedding Website, Skipsnes works for Cobalt, a digital marketing firm for the auto industry, and holds an MBA from Seattle Pacific University. You can find him on Twitter @skipsnes

It also appears that Skipsnes is a bit of a prankster, and–when not consumed with a wedding and honeymoon–appears to have a lot of free time on his hands. I don’t fault or criticize him for any of that. 

What do you think of the videos?