What Is Computer-Assisted Interviewing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Also known as CAI, computer-assisted interviewing is a strategy that involves use of a computer program to manage the asking of questions and the receipt of the responses. Depending on the exact nature of the process, the interviewer may manually enter responses into a database or template designed for the interview process, or the interviewee may actually sit down at a computer terminal and type in responses to each question as it appears on the screen. Proponents of this approach note that making use of computer resources for interviews makes it easier to compare the relative merits of each applicant, making the selection process easier to manage. Detractors focus on the somewhat impersonal manner of computer-assisted interviewing, noting that this approach omits valuable clues into the demeanor of the applicant that would otherwise be picked up in a more standard interview situation.


There are several different approaches to computer-assisted interviewing. One approach is known as "computer-assisted personal interviewing" (CAPI). In this type of interview, the questions and responses are typed into a program that is then used to evaluate the qualities and talents that the applicant can bring to the job. Depending on exactly how CAPI is employed, the interviewer may ask the questions and type the responses into the program, or the applicant may be presented with the questions by the interviewer and encouraged to type responses into the appropriate field in the program. With both approaches, the protocols in the program can be used to compare the attributes of each applicant with others and make recommendations on which of the applicants are the most qualified.

A variation on this type of computer-assisted interviewing is known as "self-interviewing" and does not require the direct intervention of an interviewer. With this approach, the person who is being interviewed is seated at a computer terminal and is instructed to type in responses to questions as they appear on the screen. In some cases, the questions will require simple yes/no responses, while others are multiple choice in design. Typically at least a few of the questions will require longer and more detailed responses. The software program will then sort the answers and compare the responses with other applications, providing recommendations for which candidates should be considered for a given position.

Computer-assisted interviewing can also occur using the telephone as the means of asking questions and providing responses. With this approach, the interviewing will often involve having the applicant respond by pressing on certain keys on a digital telephone pad as a means of indicating certain answers to the questions posed. The questions may be asked by a live interviewer who interacts with the applicant during the course of the interview, or the process may be fully automated. Typically, the candidate is notified of the results either at the end of the interview or by email or postal mail within a few business days.


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