In Interviews

Automated phone interviews are on the rise. Are you prepared to talk to a robot?

Strange as it may sound, some employers are automating their interview process right down to those initial phone screening interviews.

Why do they do this? The main reasons seem to be speed and efficiency.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR JOB-SEARCHERS?

This interview technique gives candidates the flexibility to schedule their interviews for whenever it’s most convenient, and since this approach makes the interview process faster, so is the overall hiring process – and that’s good news for job-searchers, too.

ONE MORE PLUS IF YOU’RE A JOB CANDIDATE

Companies’ use of “voicemail” interviews can indicate a “sellers’ market” where job candidates are the sellers and where companies feel the pressure to secure candidate interest more aggressively.

Related: How to Ace a Phone Interview

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT ABOUT AUTOMATED PHONE INTERVIEWS?

Automated phone interviews can make for a rough ride for job candidates because it’s all communication going out with nothing coming in. Job candidates therefore have no way to know if they’ve missed or scored a hit. They’re also tough because candidates can’t ask questions as a means of better understanding where the company is coming from.

SOME OF THE AREAS AN AUTOMATED JOB INTERVIEW MIGHT INCLUDE:

  • your background and experience
  • why you are interested in the position and what you can bring to the table
  • difficult situations you’ve encountered and how you resolved them
  • accomplishments you’d like the company to know about
  • salary expectations
  • why you’re leaving your current position
  • what you consider the most important part of the job
  • your greatest strength/weakness

A COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY BLAST FROM THE PAST

If you think this approach to job interviews sounds pretty ghastly, consider this: Back in the day, when answering machines were the latest thing, people were often so thrown by them that they would slam down the phone (you could hang up that way back then) write their message on paper, then call back to read what they’d written to the machine.

And anyway, this approach to interviewing isn’t exactly new; it’s been around for several years, but it sure feels new when you’re encountering it for the first time.

FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED

Knowing that this way of interviewing has benefits for you, (and hey, at least it’s an interview), and knowing to expect some initially unnerving silence on the other end, this type of interview isn’t all bad. Remember: first and foremost, it’s a screening interview, so having a sense of how the employer is looking to weed you out can help.

WHY THEY ASK WHAT THEY DO

When employers ask you to participate in this type of interview, they’re hoping to drain the candidate pool from all but the most appropriate candidates. Here’s some information on what they’re after.

  • What is your current and expected salary? This question helps determine if you and the employer are playing in the same ballpark. If you’ve been earning far more, your answer might present a big concern, because people who settle for less, usually don’t stick around long-term. It also tells the employer if you’re a “junior” or “senior” type, and once they know that, they are less likely to ask questions that are too easy for the senior type and too hardball for the junior type. It also tips the employer off if the salary they are offering doesn’t jibe with their competition.
  • Why are you leaving your current employer? This is helpful for determining cultural fit, among other factors. The reason you’re looking to leave could also be a prevalent issue at this company. Hiring you could put you in a situation where you’re not happy all over again for a similar, if not identical, reason.
  • Describe your greatest success from concept to fruition. First of all, they want to know you’ve had successful ideas! Second, it gives them a sense of your skill sets and what you’re capable of accomplishing.

The bottom line on automated phone interviews

Selling yourself to an employer has never been a cinch, but when you know the employer’s motivations, you’ll be in a much better position to respond. And if you keep in mind that there are advantages to you inherent in the process, you’ll feel even better about playing ball with them.

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