Going to a job interview can be a stressful experience for anyone. No matter what you are looking to do, the interview can have a big impact on your life. Whether it's a first job or a career one is seeking, nailing an interview is important for a successful future.
Many people seek advice and tips as how to conduct themselves, and what or what not to say. Colleges career offices that offer mock interviews are a good place to start. However, soon one may not even need to seek out a career office in order to find help. MACH, an animated avatar, has been designed and created to help people who are looking to land a job. It offers the chance to conduct a full mock interview and provide valuable feedback and helpful tips.
My Automated Conversation coach, or MACH, was created by Ehasan Hoque from MIT, and colleagues from the University of Madison Wisconsin, and LIMSI, a French research lab. The basic idea was to create an animated character, which would interact with potential interview candidates. Using a webcam, the program can watch your gestures and listen to your answers. It then takes this information in real time and processes it to provide feedback about the candidate.
For example, the system might say: tell me a little bit about yourself. If the student responds with: I am a senior engineering student at Purdue, MACH will continue with a question such as, What do you enjoy about engineering? This makes the candidate feel like the avatar is listening and makes it realistic. The avatar system will then take your gestures and tone of voice, along with your answers, and tell you areas of the interview that can use improvement.
MACH plays the role of the interviewer -- it will smile at you, it will nod its head at the right points, and at the end it will give you feedback, Hoque says in an overview video (watch it below). The system excels at using the interview information to provide visual feedback. Complete with graphs and charts, the feedback includes when and how many times you may have stuttered during the interview or how well you held eye contact. In addition, the avatar system may help people who have a general anxiety of public speaking.
Ironically, there is much debate about whether technology is beginning to keeps kids from developing socially. Video games are better than ever, and many kids will not have a slight problem with staying inside all day and shooting their way through a video game world. Furthermore, technology such as Facebook and texting makes kids less likely to actually have face-to-face conversations with people. Oddly enough, an avatar may be just what the next generation will be using to prepare for the place where social interaction may matter most -- work.
Need the MACH system to help you? MIT is letting people sign up for first access when it becomes available to the public.