Job Interview Tips

How to prepare for a job interview when the interviewer is a robot

Written by Kate Lopaze

In today’s job search, a lot of things have been automated or digitized. Your resume is now a PDF that can be sent anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. Your network may be full of people you haven’t met in person but have developed professional BFF-ships through the many social media options. But even with all of that, it may not occur to you that the interview—the ultimate face-to-face part of the hiring process—might be automated too. As companies look for ways to make their interview process more efficient (and less prone to human error), you may find that your interviewer is…not human.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be getting the Westworld version of an interviewer (though with less mayhem, of course), here are some tips for prepping.

Don’t worry about small talk…

You’re not going to score points with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot if you try to find out if you went to the same summer camp or by complimenting their office space. So that’s one less thing to worry about! Ordinarily, we’d recommend brushing up on your handshake skills and your small talk, but such things are much less important when your interviewer doesn’t have…hands. An AI-based interview may include some pleasantries built in for basic politeness, but you don’t need to spend much time thinking about how to impress the bot with your small talk skills.

…but do work on body language

In many AI interviews, the candidate gives responses to a set of standardized questions while being recorded. That recording is then analyzed for content, and also for visual cues. So while you don’t need to worry about building a rapport with the interview bot, you do need to make sure your body language and speaking skills are on point. That means good posture, confident tone, and eye contact. It also means keeping a close hold on your expressions—cameras can see microexpressions and movements that a regular human interviewer might miss (not having megapixel eyes and all), so poise becomes especially important.

Focus on keywords

When you’re answering questions that you know will be analyzed by some algorithm before a human ever gets around to reviewing your interview, make sure you’re tailoring your responses. That means focusing on the job description and using words and phrases that relate directly to the job. Remember, you can’t rely on charm to float you through weak points in the interview, because robots don’t have the time or the inclination to bond with you. Before the interview, be sure to read not only the job description but also the company’s website/mission statement/About Us to see what kind of qualities they prioritize and the specific wants they have for this job.

Don’t phone it in

If you’re interviewing with some level of AI (a chatbot, a video screen of an oddly perfect-looking humanoid, a voice call with an automated caller, etc.), don’t act like it’s less important than if you were dealing with a human. It can be tempting to put less effort into a dehumanized interview process, but remember, at some point, a human will be reviewing your interview. If they think you’re not taking the preliminary robot interview seriously, you’re unlikely to get called back for the real-deal, in-person version.

With more companies than ever turning to AI to simplify and improve their hiring processes, the odds are ever greater that at some point during your job hunt you’ll have a robot interviewer. It’s the same level of prep, just a different focus. And whether you’re talking to a human or a robot, the goal is always to emphasize the stellar skills and experience that got you the interview in the first place. Good luck!

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.