Dear Matt: I’ve noticed that some companies are conducting automated, recorded phone interviews. What do you know about this trend?

Matt says: One of the major complaints I hear from job seekers is that there is a lack of flexibility in the interview process. Those who are employed dislike taking time off work to go to an in-person interview, or trying to find a private, quiet spot to conduct a live phone interview during the workday.

With the automated phone interview that problem is solved. Job seekers can complete the interview on their own time when it’s convenient, and the employer can then listen to the recording when it’s convenient for them — avoiding the need to dedicate staff to scheduling mass interviews throughout the day and requiring candidates to take time off to come into the office for interviews.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota in Eagan is one local company that conducts automated phone interviews. So how does it work?

A member of the Blue Cross HR team sends those selected for an interview an e-mail with instructions on how to proceed. When ready, the job seeker clicks the e-mail and enters their phone number into the system. They then get a call back via the Blue Cross system, called Montage Voice Technology, and the automated interview is started.

Blue Cross typically asks five preset questions targeted to the specific job, with respondents getting about five minutes per question to respond — which should be more than enough time to answer.

“It really provides flexibility for both the job seeker and the employer,” says Susan Gauer, a Senior Talent Advisor with Blue Cross. “We’ve found it to be an effective method for conducting interviews.”

There’s another built-in benefit for job seekers.

Gauer has listened to recorded interviews of candidates and realized that while that person may not be the right fit for the job they interviewed for, they could fit other roles within the company. She can then forward that interview to the hiring manager and the company can use that as a reference point to help fill other positions.

Even though it’s a different type of interview, the basics still apply — such as not doing the interview on the bus, with kids or a barking dog in the background, or at a coffee shop where you can’t predict outside distractions.

Keep a copy of your résumé in front of you and reference it when needed. Make sure your phone line is clear and if you can, put a mirror in front of you and smile, says Gauer. Most of all, prepare your elevator speech and convince the employer that you are a fit for the job and that they should bring you in for an in-person interview. And practice interviewing with a friend — it really does help.

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