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Examination and Proctoring | 8 Min Read

How is AI-Based Virtual Proctoring Redefining Recruitment?

What is Virtual Proctoring?

Virtual proctoring software allows a test to be taken from any location, provided the candidate has a computer, webcam and an internet bandwidth of 512kbps. 

Virtual proctoring gained popularity as technology became ubiquitous, making online learning possible even in remote areas. With the increase in distant online learners and test-takers, remote proctored online solutions- virtual proctoring – became the ‘go-to’ technology to conduct tests in a highly secure environment, lending credibility to these assessments.

What is AI Proctoring?

AI Proctoring leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) to negate instances of cheating during online assessments. Mercer | Mettl’s futuristic AI algorithm is trained with more than 2.8 million proctored assessments. It can detect up to 18 dynamic digressions with over 95% accuracy. The intelligent algorithm is configured to flag various suspicious cases, such as the non-visibility of face/ presence, detection of a mobile phone, presence of an additional person, a distracted eye movement, etc. AI proctoring eliminates the most glaring vulnerabilities with a dynamic set of anti-cheating features.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Accenture till January 2020, said, “The greater the degree of organizational focus on people helping AI, and AI helping people, the greater the value achieved.”

Recruitment and Online Assessments

Organizations worldwide are employing technology to improve and optimize their processes. Recruitment, a necessity for organizational growth, is also embracing new-age technologies to reduce the time-to-hire and scale the process. 

Online assessments are used extensively in the screening process. Online assessments enable organizations to test the candidates’ core skills and suitability needed for the role and the organization and shortlist them for the selection interviews. While online assessments have become the preferred mode of screening, they were primarily meant to scale and quicken the hiring process without adding time and logistical requirements.

Currently, remote online assessment is the answer to the persisting recruitment problem of calling candidates to designated venues. HR professionals allow candidates to opt for a location of their choice and have them take the test before announcing the results. Assessors evaluate the tests at their convenience. Eventually, assessors call on quality candidates for the selection interview. 

Remote assessments empower organizations to employ gig economy workers and globalize their teams, enabling them to pursue remote online assessments. However, they are often challenged in administering them.

The credibility of remote online assessments is a persistent concern among test-givers, primarily due to the following concerns:

  • Someone else taking the test instead of the actual candidate
  • Searching for answers online/using online software to generate solutions
  • Searching for answers on the mobile/calling someone to seek answers
  • Getting another person in the room to help answer the questions
  • Have a friend simultaneously access the exam questions and provide solutions through screen sharing
  • Leaving the room or getting up during the test to use unfair means

The factors mentioned-above compromise the credibility of remote online assessments, without anti-cheating measures to conduct the test securely. It bounds organizations to invite the candidates to the venue to take the test in an invigilator’s presence. The HR or hiring manager usually performs the invigilator’s role, keeping a vigil on the candidates.

Online assessments have increased the recruitment process’s efficacy in several ways, and remote online assessments can further improve them, provided anti-cheating measures are deployed appropriately. Lending credibility to remote assessments can positively impact recruitment processes and enhance the use of remote assessments to save time and resources. 

Calling the candidates repeatedly to the venue defeats the purpose of online assessments. New technology can help you conduct credible remote online assessments safely and securely, from your location’s comfort. It is called Remote(Virtual) Proctoring.

Remote Proctoring - Types of Proctoring Technologies

Remote proctoring uses a combination of manual and AI-based remote invigilation technologies to conduct remote online assessments, preventing candidates from indulging in unfair means. It leverages virtual proctoring to allow examinees to take the test from any location. 

Proctoring solutions can hold diverse and secure assessments, including university entrance examinations, employment tests, certification tests, internal employee tests (as part of learning and development initiatives) and competitive exams, etc.

The market for remote proctored online solutions and online assessments is expanding rapidly, covering all functional areas, such as educational, vocational, corporate and training.

Disruptive Features

Mercer | Mettl’s online proctoring service intervenes at critical junctures throughout the assessment process (before, during and after) to maintain its sanctity.

1. Before Commencing the Assessment

a) Sanitize the test taker’s system using the Secure Browser

You must secure the virtual environment by blocking all external apps and browser functionalities. 

  • The exam is conducted on a secure browser, which prevents the test-taker from accessing any additional window other than the test page. It also disables screen recording, screen-sharing, screen projection and searching for answers online through any desktop/web-based application/software/page, etc.
  • This technology also scans the internet and blocks/reports sites containing questions or answers to the test questions, ensuring that the test is not leaked online. Test organizers can whitelist the software/pages they wish to allow.
  • The candidate’s IP address is captured to ensure that no other IP address is used to attempt the same assessment.

Mettl Secure Browser(MSB) is a web browser-environment to undertake online assessments safely. Candidates need to install the Safe Exam Browser file on their system, which, in turn, would install the required packages.

  • MSB doesn’t allow test-takers to move out of the application after the commencement of the test until the test is concluded.
  • Screen sharing is disabled.
  • The application shuts down all browser windows and running applications after seeking formal permission.

b) Authenticate the candidate

You can prevent impersonation in a webcam proctored test with 3-point candidate authentication.

As soon as candidates click on the test link, they are sent a system-generated OTP on their email id for authorization, besides being asked to: 

  • Enter registration details 
  • Click their picture 
  • Click a picture of their ID proof

Mercer | Mettl’s proctors are available 24×7 to verify the photo IDs against the registration details and validate the candidates’ legitimacy.

2. During the Assessment

Monitor the candidate for violations

Candidate’s video, audio and screen feed are continually scrutinized during the test for violations by an AI-proctoring software, which, like any human, can see, hear and make intelligent decisions. It uses AI proctoring technology to spot and flag cheating violations and unfair means in an online test.

In a candidate’s video feed, it can detect suspicious candidate behavior such as:

  • The absence of the candidate or the presence of an additional person
  • Questionable gestures such as the candidate looking away from the test screen (a first in the proctoring market)
  • Mobile phone/device detection (again, a first in the industry)

It checks for instances where the candidate has navigated away from the main test window, possibly to access unauthorized material (e.g., Google web search or some other software) while assessing the candidate’s feed.

Process of remote proctoring offered by ProctorPlus

Powerful deep learning artificial algorithms drive Mercer | Mettl’s ProctorPLUS custom-trained on petabytes of data to identify cheating in online assessments. It uses state-of-the-art computer vision and speech processing techniques such as object detection, image segmentation, pattern matching, motion analysis and object tracking to deliver more than 95% accuracy in flagging questionable actions. 

3. Post Assessment 

a) Review and take action using a detailed report

A detailed proctoring report containing the candidate’s computer screen’s audio and video recording is generated. The AI proctoring software flags all suspicious activities and provides a comprehensive report (pdf and HTML format). It considers visual proctoring flags such as detecting another person or the candidate’s absence and browsing tolerance. The report features screen recording and a live feed video embedded along with the flags raised by the AI algorithm. The flags are arranged in chronological order for easy access, and the video is marked with flags at respective timestamps. The report is an exhaustive and chronological log of a candidate’s test-taking journey.

Review and take action using a detailed report

b) Quickly segregate suspicious candidates using the Credibility Index

Mercer | Mettl’s ‘Credibility Index’ auto-summarizes the entire assessment session’s integrity in a single score, based on various violations. This enables the reviewer to sift through a large stack of tests and quickly pin-point candidates whose test integrity had been compromised. These candidates could then be scrutinized in greater detail for follow-up action.

Proctoring Technologies

1. Auto Proctoring

The go-to choice for large-scale exams – auto proctoring – uses AI proctoring to prevent cheating instances. This online proctoring software monitors the live feed for anything suspicious. Advanced analytics power auto proctoring to monitor online assessments of a vast candidate pool cost-effectively. The AI proctoring software monitors the test-takers through facial recognition, device detection (such as a mobile phone), multiple people detection and other distractions detection. It generates a comprehensive report with a Credibility Index.

2. Live Proctoring

Live proctoring is a combination of auto and human proctoring. The test-taker(s) is monitored in real-time by a qualified human proctor and an AI-powered proctoring software (same as auto proctoring).

A qualified proctor monitors test-taker(s) from a remote location through live audio-video and screen-share feeds. Proctors can pause the test upon noticing anything unusual and chat with the test-taker or terminate the exam if needed. Auto-proctoring runs in the background by default to assist a human proctor. The proctoring software (auto-proctoring) provides a list of red flags whenever it detects suspicious behavior, which can be reviewed in real-time or afterward (recording) to assess the exam’s integrity and take appropriate action. The entire session’s recording is available in the proctoring report, with the live chat feed, any live proctor intervention, screen recording and AI flags for later audits.

Live proctoring can be of two types: Dedicated Proctoring and Classroom Proctoring:

  • Dedicated proctoring refers to one-to-one proctoring, where test-takers need to book the exam in advance to see if there's a proctor available to invigilate them.
  • Classroom proctoring enables one proctor to oversee multiple candidates on one screen. Classroom proctoring is more cost-effective than dedicated proctoring and can act as an added security layer if required.

3. Record & Review Proctoring

It is a cost-effective substitute for live proctoring, and the entire process is recorded for later review. A report is made available after the exam, which is reviewed by expert proctors to check for anomalies. Proctors are assisted by the red flags raised by AI algorithms that enable them to conduct a thorough check. This system can simultaneously conduct several exams, unlike live proctoring, which has limitations, depending on the number of proctors available.

The Need for AI-Based Virtual Proctoring Software in Recruitment

1. Lateral Hiring

Recruitment is a crucial process, and a perfect hire is its by-product, conditional to the fact that you invest wholeheartedly in the process. All business leaders and human resource managers want to hire the best possible candidates, and online assessments are emerging as a popular tool for the purpose. 

Finding the right candidate for the right job, timely and in a cost-effective manner, is a concern for modern-day recruiters and hiring managers. While many organizations have moved to online assessments for screening purposes, they haven’t completely done away with the candidates coming to the official venue for screening assessments due to the lack of trust in remote assessments.

An essential ingredient of administering remote assessments entails proctoring the test-takers to ensure credibility. For recruiters, it lessens the logistical requirements of having to call candidates to the organization and schedule multiple rounds with numerous leaders. 

Remote proctored assessments help recruiters efficiently make informed decisions about the candidates through well-defined performance indicators of the proctoring software’s assessment and behavioral indicators. It ensures a better success rate of the lateral hiring process.

2. Campus Hiring

Organizations conduct large-scale campus recruitments every year by spending substantial financial resources and time. The traditional campus hiring drive involves organizations creating a dedicated campus hiring team to hop cities and campuses.

The conventional method of conducting a test comprises the following steps:

  • Booking a physical venue in advance
  • Logistical execution such as setting up and preparing for a high volume of candidates taking the tests simultaneously
  • Dedicating invigilators for every exam room to prevent cheating
  • Evaluating the assessments
  • Shortlisting candidates for the interview rounds

This is a resource and time-intensive process, and organizations spend substantial sums only on campus hiring drives. Such an extensive and cumbersome process faces the challenge of scalability. It requires a risk-free process of proctoring that offers credible results, also reducing manual intervention in the initial phase. 

Remote proctoring can enable the campus hiring process, whereby companies roll out online assessments on a secure proctored environment and leverage the technology. There is no limit to the number of candidates one can proctor. Thus, it will ensure access to a more extensive candidate pool. Since remote proctoring frees candidates to attempt their test at a chosen time, a higher participation and attempt rate is likely.

The campus hiring season outspreads, and multiple assessments on multiple campuses occur simultaneously. This makes remote proctoring more vital and beneficial to the process, and helps create a campus pipeline for future recruitment needs. Remote proctoring helps you set benchmarks and target campuses accordingly, for an efficient campus hiring strategy.

Organizations often conduct massive hiring drives on campuses with low ROI. Remote proctored assessments improve the ROI by ensuring that organizations only meet candidates that pass the set criteria. These proctored tests are extremely credible and reduce a company’s logistical cost, providing a hassle-free experience to the test-taking candidate. 

Proctored online assessments bring down the cost-of-hire and the time-to-hire by enabling organizations to roll out large-scale online assessments and only meet the selected few who clear these proctored assessments.

Benefits of having AI Based Virtual Proctoring

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer | Mettl enables organizations to break away from traditional and redundant hiring processes and take the first step toward better hiring, using the best available technology.

ProctorPLUS is Mercer | Mettl’s cutting-edge tool driven by artificial intelligence to provide a holistic solution to maintain your assessments’ integrity in a cost-effective and scalable manner. It is pre-integrated with Mercer | Mettl’s examination platform and can be easily integrated into any human resource management system (HRMS). Mercer | Mettl’s ProctoringPLUS is unique because its online proctoring services are customizable to your requirements to ensure flexibility in cost, features and stakes.

Mercer | Mettl’s Proctoring Numbers (in lakhs/ hundred thousand) Since 2014:
Number of Proctored Tests99.52303
Number of Live (Human) Proctored Tests78.77814
Number of Test Conducted on Mettl Secure Browser (MSB)72.95577

Below are the answers to some underlying organizational concerns in conducting remote assessments, using an AI-based virtual proctoring software.

Can Online Tests Detect Cheating?

Yes, they can. One must evaluate the anti-cheating mechanisms, which depend on the online proctoring software provider. Every online entrance exam software would have state-of-the-art tools to prevent students from indulging in unsavory activities. 

What is AI Proctoring?

AI Proctoring leverages Artificial Intelligence to negate instances of cheating during online assessments. 

What Does Online Proctoring Mean?

Online proctoring refers to a digital form of invigilation using state-of-the-art monitoring software. A remote proctored exam allows the invigilators to invigilate remotely. They use audio, video and various anti-cheating features to maintain the exam’s integrity, ensuring its credibility and authenticity.

About Mercer | Mettl

Mercer | Mettl provides an Online Assessment Platform which delivers efficient, cost-effective, and technology-driven skill assessments that help organizations build winning teams by taking credible ‘people’ decisions across two key areas: Acquisition and Development.

Mercer | Mettl is currently partnering with over 2,000 global companies, 31 sector skill councils, and 15+ educational institutes across 80+ countries.

Mercer acquired Mettl in 2018, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth, and career, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people.

For more information, visit www.mettl.com.

Originally published November 25 2019, Updated December 16 2020

Bhuvi Kathpalia

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

About This Topic

Online remote proctoring is the technology through which exams are conducted online in a cheating-free manner, using high-speed internet and a computer with a webcam. Online remote proctoring uses video streaming and AI or human proctors to invigilate large-scale exams securely.

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