Employers are using artificial intelligence to assess video job interviews, evaluating everything from your attitude to your communication skills
March 27, 2023 at 7:00 a.m. EDT
You may know that artificial intelligence may scan your résumé when you apply for a job. But are you prepared to have an interview assessed by AI?
Some employers areusing AI to assess video interviews candidates do on their own time without a human on the other side. Depending on the software, the AI can evaluate a candidate’s communication skills, problem-solving skills, initiative, professionalism and attitude. And ultimately, the AI screening could eliminate you before you ever speak to a human.
Here’s how these AI interviews typically work: Candidates are presented questions, either in text or from a recording created by the employer or software company, one at a time. The system records their video responses, often giving them a time limit, usually from one to a few minutes. Some employers allow candidates to rerecord some answers. When the interview is submitted, the AI takes over, analyzing the video for specific skills or traits and providing scores and insights to employers. Candidates are usually told that AI will be used to assess their interview.
Work experts say employers mostly use the technology for openings that draw large numbers of candidates or to help fill hundreds of jobs at a time. Some use it for entry-level candidates whose résumés may lack relevant experience. While some companies, often large employers, have been using AI-assisted interviews for years, the technology is still not widely adopted, according to Rania Stewart, recruiting technology analyst at market research firm Gartner. Between 20 percent and 50 percent of organizations globally are using AI in some part of the hiring process, Gartner estimates. But that could change as AI gets better and companies get more comfortable with using it.
“AI is really becoming more applicable across the board,” Stewart said. AI-assessed interviews are “a high-growth [option] that’s evolving.”
But the technology isn’t perfect. Experts worry that AI could unfairly penalize candidates if it can’t understand a person’s accent or speech impediment, for example. They also worry thatit may unfairly score someone who’s neurodivergent or speaks English as a second language.
Software providers say they’re continuously working on improvements to try to eliminate potential discrimination.
Still, experts say there are some things you can do to improve your chances in an AI interview.
“Don’t let yourself be intimidated,” said Marcie Kirk Holland, executive director of the Internship and Career Center at the University of California, Davis. “The locus of control is still with the individual.”
Here are some tips to navigate your next AI interview.
Make sure the focus of your interview is on you. Tech and setup problems could not only affect an AI assessment but also impact your job prospects should a human end up watching the recording.
So ensure you have a strong WiFi connection, your device is plugged into a power source, you have good lighting that doesn’t shadow your face, a flattering camera angle, a properly working webcam and microphone (even if they’re just the ones built into your device) and a clean background. Check that you have the latest updates to your operating system and web browser, as some software has requirements.
Kick out roommates or peoplewho may be in your space disrupting the video. Pick a spot that’s quiet to ensure the software catches everything you say.
“It’s a lot of the same kinds of things we would advise for any interview,” Kirk Holland said.
Dress to impress and focus
If AI is assessing your interview, then it shouldn’t matter what you wear or do during it, right?
Wrong. Some AI assessments also take into account what you’re wearing. Dressing professionally not only helps make a good-looking video, but it may put you in the correct head space, too, said Kirk Holland. Avoid multitasking so you don’t lose focus or create audio interference, which could ultimately mess up the AI assessment.
Some employers double back after the AI assessment and watch some videos to ultimately determine who moves on. You don’t want to be caught in your pajamas if that happens.
The software “just provides a score … and [employers] can review the videos and agree or disagree,” said Eric Sydell, executive vice president of innovation at Modern Hire, which offers AI-assessed interviews.
As with any interview, do your research ahead of time. Make sure that not only is a job and employer a fit for you, but that you know what they’re looking for and what to expect.
Kirk Holland suggests job seekers check review sites such as Glassdoor as well as LinkedIn. This will help you get a better idea of how current employees, customers and partners view and work with the company. It also should give you a sense of what the company values and their expectations for workers. Take notes.
If you’re applying to several jobs at a time, your research will help you remember which is which, Kirk Holland said.
“It can all blur together,” she said. “So have really clear records.”
Prepare what you’re going to say
Often times, AI-assessed interviews ask similar questions, experts and software providers said. So prepare what you want to say.
A common question employers ask in AI-assessed interviews is to describe your experience in a specific capacity. The interviews often also include situational questions, such as, “Tell us about a time you solved a tough problem.”
HireVue, a software provider that offers AI interviews, says its system looks for both job abilities and soft skills like communication, problem-solving skills, team orientation and initiative. Other providers, such as Interview.ai, focus more on attitude, professionalism, communication and sociability — using other tools to assess job skills. And Modern Hire says it scores on 11 competencies like how well a candidate leads others, manages priorities or provides exceptional service.
While some AI interviews allow candidates to redo their answers, experts suggest recording practice runs to be ready.
This can help you identify bad habits. Perhaps you look away or fidget when you’re nervous, accidentally let slang slip into your speech or spend too much time getting to the point. With apps like Zoom or Google Meet, you can record yourself answering a couple of practice questions. Then review and adjust, Kirk Holland suggests.
Sydell of Modern Hire said candidates should try to fully explain their answers but practice being concise.
“The more detailed you can be the better,” he said. “Don’t ramble. Be to the point.”
Talking to a camera can feel awkward. To help, put up a photo of someone you care about near your camera, Kirk Holland suggests. Then speak directly to them, which should help you display a warmer disposition, make more eye contact and possibly even crack a smile — all of which could be assessed by the AI.
Interview.ai, for example, says its software scans the video for things like body language, facial emotions and eye contact. HireVue previously used facial analysis software in its interviews butbegan phasing out the technology in 2020 after complaints that the tech could be biased, is unproven and invasive.
“For the most part, language was more powerful (for the model),” said Lindsey Zuloaga, chief data scientist at HireVue. “So we decided to throw out any non-verbals.”
Modern Hire says in the case of a video interview, its AI only assesses the transcript, aiming to remove the potential for bias. Another provider, Sapia.ai, only applies AI to interviews done via written chats. Video is optional, often only used as the next step for top candidates, and isn’t assessed by AI.
“A lot of customers will say we want to see how this person presents,” said Russell Mikowski, Sapia.ai’s president of North America. “So we’ll ask them to answer one question on video.”
Zuloaga said the best way to think about an AI interview is just as another step in the hiring process, but ultimately a human chooses how much to rely on it.
“AI is the filtering step to help humans,” she said. “Humans make the final hiring decision.”