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Automated Phone Screens: Press the Star Key

INTERVIEW EDGE • OCT 1997

It was probably inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of automated interviewing. Big companies like Macy's and Nike routinely use an automated computer phone screen with tests that measure honesty and other traits in potential employees.

This technology promises to screen thousands of job seekers, and by eliminating unqualified candidates early in the game, saves time and money. It also supposedly helps reduce employee turnover by predicting the future performance of qualified applicants.

But automated interviewing has a few major drawbacks. For one thing, questions are multiple choice, and just as with other exams, a smart candidate can often guess the correct answer. The potential for follow-up questions is limited as well. Furthermore, the immediate personal reaction that a real interviewer has to a candidate simply can't be duplicated by a machine.

So, unfortunately for interviewers working for large companies, the computer is no substitute for a live phone screen. At least not yet. See the companion article on "human" phone screening in this issue.