Computerized Interviews

A computerized selection interview is one in which a job candidate’s oral and/or computerized replies are obtained in response to computerized interviews present the applicant with a series of questions regarding his or her background, experience, education, skills, knowledge and work attitudes that relate to the job which the person has applied. Some (video based) computerized interviews also confront also confront candidates with realistic scenarios (such as irate customers) to which they must respond.

Typical computerized interviews present questions in a multiple choice format, one at a time; the applicant is expected to respond to the questions on the screen by pressing a key. For example a sample interview question for a person applying for a job as a retail store clerk might be:

How would your supervisor rate your customer service skills?

a) Outstanding
b) Above average
c) Average
d) Below Average
e) Poor

Questions on a computerized interview common in rapid sequence and require the applicant to concentrate. The typical computerized interview program measures the response time to each question. A delay in answering certain questions such as Can you be trusted – can flag a potential problem.

Great Western Bank Example:

Here’s how the system works at Great Western Bank. When Bonnie Dunn, 20 years old, tried out for a teller’s job at Great Western bank, she faced a line up of tough customers. One young woman sputtered contradictory instructions about depositing a check and then below her top when the transaction wasn’t handled fast enough. Another customer had an even shorter fuse: “You people are unbelievably slow”, he said.

Both tough customers appeared on a computer screen, as part of a 20 minute computerized job interview. Ms Dunn was seated in front of a personal computer, responding via touch screen and a microphone. She was tested on making change and on sales skills, as well as keeping cool in tense situations.

When applicants sit down facing the computer at Great Western’s bank branches, they hear it say “Welcome to the interactive assessment aid”. The computer doesn’t understand that applicants say at that point, although it records their comments for evaluation later. To begin the interview, applicants touch a label on the screen, eliciting an ominous foreword: We’ll be keeping tack of how long it takes you and how many mistakes you make. Accuracy is more important than speed.

First, the computer tests the applicants on money skills, asking him or her to cash a check for $192.18 including at least three $5 bills and two dollars in quarters. Then, when an angry customer appears on the screen the system expects candidates to grab the microphone and mollify him. Later, a bank official who listens to the recorded interviews gives applicants five points for maintaining a friendly tone of voice, plus up to 15 points for apologizing to solve the customer’s problem and taking a cue from the screen suggesting that in the future he use the bank’s deposit only line.

The touchy young woman on the screen is tougher. Speaking fast, she says she wants to cash a $ 150 check, get $ 140 in cash, and put $ 65 in savings find the rest in checking. No, it has to be $50 in checking because I just wrote a check this morning. If the applicant then touches a label on the screen that says, the woman fumes. “How many times do I have to tell you?”

Great Western reports success with its dramatically reduced useless personal interviewing of unacceptable candidates. And, partly because the candidates see what the job’s really like, those hired are reportedly 26% less likely to quit or be fired within 90 days of hiring.

Pic’n Pay Stores Example: Employers often use computer aided interviews to prescreen out unacceptable candidates. Pic’n pay stores, a chain of 915 self service shoe stores headquartered in North Carolina gives job applicants an 800 number to dial for a computerized interview. The interview contains 100 questions and lasts about 10 minutes. Applicants press 1 for yes and 0 for no. Every applicant then gets a follow up live telephone interview from one of the firm’s sites dedicated interviewers.