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How to hack a ‘bot’ interview

Let’s set the scene.

You have found a really cool job online. You have prepared and sent a kick-arse application. Now your cross your fingers and wait, thinking “could this be my new job” (or for the cynical among us, “I wonder if I will ever hear anything back’).

Then it happens. You get an email saying your application has progressed (woohoo) and that you are invited to attend a ‘bot’ interview as the next stage of the recruitment process (what the?).

Bot interviews (aka automated, live or on-demand interviews) are becoming more and more common place in recruitment processes, especially at the corporate end of town. There are plenty of arguments both for (reduction of bias, candidate flexibility and improved process efficiency), and against (lack of human connection, keyword vs content focus and one-way interaction) the use of ‘bots’ in interview processes, but the reality is that they’re here now, and they’re more than likely to be more prolific in the future not less.

To remove the fear and uncertainty that exists around these type of experiences, we have spoken to leading experts from both ‘bot’ software providers and large corporates to bring you a practical ‘low down’ on how to perform well in bot interviews.

How to do really well – 3 (really) simple tips

(1) Prepare, prepare, prepare

As in any interview, preparation is key.

The first priority is to know your content. Anticipate what you may be asked in the interview (and know what the job requires), and prepare your answers and examples that demonstrate how aligned your skills/experience are to the role and how it’s being defined.

Next, you need to practice the ‘performance’ side of the interview in a simulated ‘bot’ setting. It may sound tricky, but all it requires is a little bit of time and your smart phone.  Practice responding to questions on video. Focus on being clear, concise and demonstrating genuine enthusiasm.

Now for the painful bit.

Watch your responses back and see where you can improve. Are your answers rambling? Do you look engaged and comfortable? Is your tone and pitch clear? Do you use jargon, acronyms or slang? Keep practicing and watching your videos back until you have nailed your ‘performance’.  Remember, the aim here is natural and confident, not over-rehearsed and wooden!

(2) Use it as your chance to sell yourself 

How many times have you been in an interview where you don’t get a chance to really share your story? I’m sure you know what I am talking about. The interviewer who won’t stop talking, or the one that interrupts mid-sentence and takes you in a completely different direction or to tell a story of their own.

Bot interviews are a great way to ‘control’ the content of your interview and really sell yourself. It goes without saying that you need to answer the question actually asked, however the chance to bring forward your best achievements and the things that make you uniquely great, without the fear of interruption or bias, can actually be a great opportunity. Use it.

(3) Don’t try and ‘out robot’ the robot

There are a heap of bot interviewing software providers, all offering different services and experiences, at varying levels of sophistication. Some systems are transactional and focus only on key words and basic eye contact. Other are very nuanced and can detect everything from verbal patterns, voice intonations and micro aspects of body language.

You have two choices.

Choice 1 – You can learn the capabilities of every bot software solution available on the market and try and ‘beat’ the algorithms of each system (super time consuming and unlikely to work unless you are either a technological genius or a complete psychopath).

Choice 2 – You can focus on providing great content in your answers and a genuine interaction with the process (using your real verbal and body language).

Our experts were all firmly in the camp of option two. As a Senior Talent Leader from one of Australia’s largest ASX company’s states – “be clear on your keywords, speak slowly and clearly, and don’t be afraid of the camera/bot – use eye contact and move freely”.

Keywords are really important in bot interviews, but don’t worry, these are not hard to figure out. Use words that show your alignment to the needs of the role and culture of the business. You can generally find these via position descriptions, job adverts and on the company’s website.

The other thing our experts saw as being critically important is entering the interview in a positive state of mind, so you can put your best foot forward. Being comfortable and confident will help you demonstrate more positive and authentic body language, which is something most bots will pick up.

Love them or hate them, ‘bot’ interviews are a reality of current recruitment processes. While this experience will look and feel different from your standard face to face process, the goal is inherently the same – connecting the right people with the right opportunities.  The trick is knowing how to show that you are ‘the’ right person.

With these simple tips, we hope you feel pretty confident that you have this covered.

Sonja Ankucic

Energiser | Ideator | Friend

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