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Answering a classified for an account executive, Keith Davis dialed the toll-free number listed. An automated voice answered, and described the position, company, work hours and location. Still curious about the job, Davis, 53, answered questions about his education, work experience, and other basic information using buttons on the telephone keypad.
Six minutes later, he learned that he qualified for a personal interview and was prompted to schedule an appointment. “The convenience was really terrific,” says Davis, who has 25 years of sales experience. “Usually you have to put together a resume and wait to hear something. This is immediate and you don’t need a resume until the actual interview. Also, there’s no telephone tag.” Within a day or two, Davis received a phone call from the Cleveland telecommunications firm, and within two weeks was hired. It’s the prescreen interview technique of the ’90s–fast and direct, and only for the prepared.
Industries with high employee turnover, such as retail, manufacturing and service, need to be able to recruit large numbers of employees, and are turning to technology for help. While it’s primarily hourly workers they’re looking for, more middle managers and professionals, like nurses and pharmacists, are now being targeted.
Interviewing methods such as telephone screening include interactive voice response, as in Davis’ case, and computer-assisted candidate screening. During a computer-assisted screening, job seekers speak to a “tele-recruiter.” This person will ask questions pertaining to your job performance. For example, if interviewing for a customer service job, the tele-recruiter might ask how you handled a difficult customer. The tele-recruiter is prompted by a variety of questions, depending on your answers.
Videoconferencing, another form of interviewing, has become very popular with campus recruiters who cannot visit every school. Last year, Susan Luedke, 31, a former production assistant at the El Paso Times, interviewed via videoconferencing with Andersen Consulting while attending the University of Texas at El Paso.
“The interview was more relaxing, and you don’t feel as much under fire,” recalls Luedke. Although it’s difficult to sell yourself during the screening process, the interview is objective, convenient and quick. “This format does have some drawbacks, however, such as being more impersonal than a regular interview and somewhat sterile.” Luedke eventually had a face-to-face interview and landed a consulting position in the Hartford office.
If you’re applying for a position in the consulting or technology industry, don’t be surprised if you complete most of the screening process over the Internet. One consulting firm required candidates to complete an application, provide writing samples and answer a series of multiple-choice questions over the Net. Candidates were later contacted by recruiters for one-on-one interviews.
Here are some tips on how to handle three high-tech screening processes:
Telephone screening interviews: Tele-recruiters evaluate you on your answers and on how you sound, says Tom Janz, an industrial psychologist for Personnel Decisions International, a human resources consulting firm in Minneapolis. “You need to sound alert, responsive and positive. Before your interview, get others to listen and comment on the degree of optimism and interest in
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