Computer-Assisted Job Interviews

In an attempt to save both time and money, technology-savvy companies are now scheduling candidate meetings with a PC rather than an actual human being. If you are taking a computerized interview, be aware that although most programs pose questions in the form of a true/false or multiple-choice format, there are programs that will ask for a full response. In these cases, there is usually a preset time limit for each question, so be prepared to answer quickly.

Topics most often covered include your professional and educational backgrounds, as well as your relevant skills and qualifications. Once completed, the computer compiles a summary of your answers, which the recruiter will use to determine whether you will advance to the next round of interviewing.

Advantages of Using a Computer

It's been argued that the computerized interview succeeds in doing away with any prejudices that might be placed upon a candidate by a biased interviewer. For example, if an interviewer were — illegally — hoping to fill the position with someone of a particular sex or race, use of the computerized interview would help to alleviate such unfair practices.

Another advantage — and one that benefits the company — is that employers can be given the opportunity to word each question carefully, ensuring that nothing they are asking is illegal.

A further benefit of using a computer is that essentially the computer does a better job of screening candidates. Computerized job interview programs are built to flag any inconsistencies in a candidate's answers and to make these discrepancies known to the recruiter. Many companies report that because of the accuracy with which a computer can pinpoint a strong company “match,” they have experienced stronger productivity, better customer service, lower employee turnover, less employee absenteeism, and less theft in the workplace.

A final and significantly important advantage to the computerized interview is its efficiency. While two humans interacting in a room might be tempted to let a conversation run off on a tangent, a computer is programmed to ask the exact same questions, in the exact same way, in the exact same amount of time every time it interviews a candidate.

Disadvantages of Using a Computer

For the most part, the disadvantages to this method center around the fact that a computer is just that. A computer lacks the ability to consider special circumstances, like a history of unemployment due to disability. However, software manufacturers are taking this into account. Their improved software will allow candidates to type in any comments they would like to have considered.

Also, a computer cannot measure a candidate's eagerness to enter the workplace, enthusiasm for a particular field, or willingness to work hard. Yet, on the other hand, one could argue that the computer lacks the ability to gauge a candidate's negativity or pessimism.

What the Computer Will Say

After you complete the interview, it is up to the computer to determine the next step. The computer analyzes your responses and presents a summary of your qualifications to the recruiter. The most advanced computer programs even allow employers to create a standardized “employee profile” for their company.

Based on the successful hires they've made in the past, a recruiter can tell a computer the type of employee who works best in their company setting — according to the amount and type of experience they've had and so forth. The computer analyzes the candidate's answers with this model employee as a guide and decides whether you would make a good fit. The recruiter reads the report and makes a decision as to whether you should be brought back for a second interview.

Types of Computer-Assisted Interviews

The computerized job interview can occur via the Internet. It can come in various forms:

  • Internet job interview — often used when candidates don't live nearby. Candidates are provided with a password to access the company's in-house computer system, which administers the interview.

  • Scenario-based interview — a candidate is faced with a virtual customer or situation and asked to react. Scenario-based interviews are used to see how candidates behave in simulated work situations.

  • Computer-assisted skills tests — used to measure your aptitude for performing a specific task or duty that would be required of the job for which you are applying. A typical use of a skills test would be, for example, to test the mathematical or logical reasoning skills of an accountant or engineer.

  • Computer-assisted integrity tests — used by companies to measure your honesty, morals, and ethics. Try to avoid absolutes, like always or never. Though a recruiter may want to believe that you have never lied, it is not likely that he will.

  • Computer-assisted personality tests — the most complex of all computerized assessment tests, personality tests are used to determine whether a candidate's personality is suited to the job at hand. The results of such a personality test are then compared against a standard — or norm — that is determined by those who have previously taken the test or those who have been successful in filling a similar position. If you know you will be taking a computer-assisted personality test, search out sample IQ and behavioral pre-employment tests online and familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions asked.

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