What is online proctoring and how does it make recruitment better and secure

The exam hall is shrouded in silence, barring the abrasive scraping of pen on paper. A mere glance at the person sitting across you earns a pointy stare from the invigilator/proctor. With hawk-like eyes (most are believed to have those all-seeing-eyes at the back of their heads as well) she keeps everyone under her purview, flushing out the suspicious characters at first glance. Invigilators, or proctors, as they are called, are an irreplaceable feature of our traditional competitive examinations, critical to preserving its integrity. Or are they?

As with most things traditional, proctoring, too, is undergoing substantial transformation thanks to technological advancements. With online proctoring progressively becoming mainstream, more and more educational institutions and companies are adopting online proctoring as opposed to the more traditional form of proctoring thanks to its many advantages. Some of the early adopters of online proctoring for their recruitment needs include companies such as Amazon, Walmart Labs, Cognizant, Honeywell, among several big and not-so-big companies.

What is online proctoring? 

Online proctoring, similar to offline proctoring (or just your regular invigilation), is a service that safeguards the integrity of the exam undertaken by remotely monitoring (via a webcam) the activities of the candidate during the course of the examination.

To use an online proctored examination to spearhead your recruitment drive, the first step is to choose an online proctoring service provider that is right for you. Keeping in mind a few points would make it easier to choose. Specify what areas you want the candidate to be assessed on and the skill level that the position requires. It helps to understand how the proctoring works — is it manual or are the candidates’ activities recorded via their webcam? Ensure that the service you choose offers solutions to not only prevent cheating but check the authenticity of the candidate.

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How does an online proctored exam work?

The candidates appearing for the online proctored examination are required to download the software application onto the device (laptop or desktop) that will be used for the purpose. When the candidate begins the examination, the application assesses his/her computer and webcam and a lockdown mechanism is used to prevent him/her from opening any web browsers. The candidate has to confirm his/her identity by one of the many methods that are required by the application. While few may require the candidate to show proof of identity to the camera, some others use facial recognition software to confirm the candidate’s identity. Certain others use advanced technology to further confirm the candidate’s identity by instructing him/her to type a certain phrase and then analyzing the keystrokes with previously submitted samples. Whatever the method employed, after confirming the candidate’s identity, the application requires the candidate to show around the room where the test takes place to confirm there is no one else to assist with the exam.

Once the exam begins, there are three ways in which online proctoring can take place: Live online proctoring, Recorded proctoring, and Advanced automated proctoring according to this guide.

Live online proctoring: In this form of proctoring, a qualified proctor monitors the candidate as he/she is giving the exam through live audio and video feeds. These proctors are trained to ensure the authenticity of the candidate and look for any red flags such as suspicious eye or facial movements or the appearance of any unverified device that could indicate possible cheating. In case suspicious circumstances do arise, the proctor can either shut down the test or notify the company of the prohibited activity. This form of proctoring allows the proctor to monitor up to 32 (a standard number for most proctors) candidates at a time. Both the candidate and proctor can be in any location as long as they both have access to the internet. However, the only disadvantage of this kind of proctoring is that it is dependent on the availability of the proctor on a given date and time. It is also expensive since it needs human intervention just like offline proctoring and for the same reason is not scalable either.

Recorded proctoring: Unlike live online proctoring, a recorded proctoring, as its name suggests, merely records the activities of the candidate during the examination, which is then played back by a proctor at the greater speed to look for any suspicious behavior or occurrence during the course of the exam. This form of proctoring has an advantage that it requires no scheduling since the candidate can take the exam at any time convenient to him/her. But as this too requires human intervention for reviewing the clip, it is expensive and difficult to scale.

Advanced automated proctoring: This is the most advanced form of proctoring (as the name suggests) and requires no manual intervention whatsoever. This form of proctoring records the activities of the candidate while also monitoring the feed for red flags of any sort that would indicate malpractice using advanced audio and video analytics. It is the least expensive of all these forms of proctoring since it eliminates the need for manual intervention and is scalable for the same reason.

Certain online proctors go a step further by limiting the candidate logins to specific IP addresses and blocking the copy-paste option, further securing the integrity of the test conducted.

Why should companies opt for online proctoring assessments?

With remote assessments becoming a norm, companies can assess and recruit talent irrespective of geographical constraints. However, unless these online assessments are proctored by a reliable proctor, there is no guarantee that the candidate who pulls off a brilliant performance during the assessment is the same one who is hired! Hence, it is crucial to verify the authenticity of the candidate who undertakes the assessment, and that is where online proctoring comes in handy. With its many stringent security measures in place, these tools ensure that the integrity of the assessment process is preserved.

What does the future hold?

While we are clearly in the dark when it comes to what the future might unfold, we can be fairly certain that online assessments are going to be indispensable to recruitment, ergo the need for online proctoring. With its reliable safety features such as facial recognition, keyboard, and facial movement analysis, online proctoring goes a long way in preserving the integrity of the examination conducted. However, a quick search on the web will baffle you with the number of not-so-reputable blogs that provide tips and tricks to cheat these proctors. But these solutions require such laboriously elaborate set-ups that even the most hardened ‘cheater’ would be discouraged to take it up. And since its pros far outweigh its cons, it wouldn’t be too long before online proctoring is synonymous with online recruitment.

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