I'm not opposed to working with machines. Given the opportunity, I'll generally choose the self-checkout at the grocery store and order from the kiosks at McDonald's, but for a job interview, replacing the company representative with a computer screen or a bot is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Wall Street Journal described companies who are using one-sided interviews as a way "to streamline the hiring process to nab promising candidates before they can get away. For some, that has meant rethinking the tried-and-true phone interview, rolling out one-sided, automated exchanges in which applicants give recorded responses to a series of questions."

I get the logic--if I'm interested in you as a candidate, I can set up an automated interview that you can do when you have time. We don't have to coordinate schedules--and this is a huge benefit for someone that is currently employed. There's no need to "take a long lunch" in order to do a phone screen from your car.

But, this is the way to get bad candidates, not good ones. Remember, good candidates have options. At the end of the article, author Chip Cutter shares this little anecdote:

Darlene Racinelli, a Temecula, Calif., financial controller with 30 years of experience, recently had her second automated phone interview. She had applied for a financial controller role at a Texas manufacturer and found automated interviews frustrating because she couldn't ask questions to better understand the company.

When the system asked her to describe her most-difficult challenge--a stock job-interview question--she decided she had enough. "At that point," she said, "I hit 9 and just ended it."

Yep. A candidate with 30 years of experience applying for a senior position is not going to put up with this ridiculousness. She points out a very important point: the job interview is just as much for the candidate to find out about the company as it is for the company to find out about the candidate.

Yes, these methods can save money because you don't have to pay a recruiter to screen candidates. But, that doesn't mean it's cost effective. Maybe Ms. Racinelli would be the perfect person for the job, but because she wasn't willing to jump through silly cost-saving hoops, the company will miss out. She'll be fine. 

For entry-level positions, you'll find people are more willing to do these types of things. Why? Because they don't have a lot to distinguish themselves from the next entry-level candidate, and, lacking real-world experience, they can't interview the company as well as a senior person can.

Playing "hard to get" may work in the dating world, but it doesn't work in hiring. if you want to get to know a candidate, you'll have to let her know you--or at least about the company you represent. If you can't take the time to do a phone screen, why should she waste her time? It tells her the company isn't interested in people and isn't willing to invest in them. Who wants to join such a company?

Published on: Dec 4, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.