AI in the jobs market: Can you really ace an interview with a robot?
It sounds like something from the year 2050. But robots could now decide your next career move.
Embracing the technology
It seems like something from a science fiction film. A little uncomfortable even. But where previously recruiters would have laboriously thumbed through tens or even hundreds of CVs trying to find the perfect candidate, now Artificial Intelligence will do it for them.
Robots in recruitment? Really?
Robots have actually been used in this way for a while. But today’s sophisticated algorithms are designed to pick out defining characteristics in a candidate much more efficiently. This might be whether they have a degree, or how many times they’ve recently changed jobs for example.
Nathan Mondragon, head psychologist at HireVue, strongly believes that when it comes to successful recruitment the devil is in the detail - and that’s where AI excels.
HireVue markets software for screening job candidates. It’s a highly-prized tool used by big players like Goldman Sachs and Unilever. While the candidate is speaking in front of a camera, high-tech software is running in the background, working like a team of eagle-eyed psychologists. It’s looking for the tiniest changes in things like vocal tone, posture and facial expressions.
“We break the answers people give down into many thousands of data points, into verbal and non-verbal cues” says Mondragon.
“If you’re answering a question about how you would spend a million dollars, your eyes would tend to shift upward, your verbal cues would go silent. Your head would tilt slightly upward with your eyes.”
Once all the data has been collected, the program generates a score. This score is then compared against one it has already “learned” from existing high-performing employees. It’s basically looking at the best existing recruits a company has and matching a prospective candidate to them.
Isn't this a little 'de-humanising'?
This is the problem - in many ways, yes it is.
Job-seeking is hard. It forces us to not only evaluate our careers and experience but is rather personal too. We ask ourselves whether we’re “good enough”, and without human interaction or feedback, this already challenging process can seem deeply alienating. And if you don’t get the job, how are you meant you know why?
Then you’ve got the usual concerns about data security, and of course equality issues. If you suspect you’ve been discriminated against by an algorithm, who do you complain to? And what about the risk of bias?
Older job seekers are also more likely to struggle. Many rely on help to fill out applications from voluntary services or councils. Why would someone who has a 45-year career as a plasterer suddenly be comfortable with IT?
On a more positive note though, this type of AI could actually create a more level playing field. For example, ‘name anonymisation’, helps to remove gender or minority bias. Furthermore, robots can be programmed to be familiar with the sector they’re recruiting for in a way that human recruiters may not be.
Recruitment en masse
Recruitment by robot may not be popular with everyone, but for busy HR teams and recruiters, it can be godsend.
For example, take a huge employer like Tesco. In August 2020, the company announced it was creating 16,000 new permanent roles, on top of the extra 4,000 roles it had created at the start of the pandemic. Then, of course, you've got all in the existing staff. That's a hell of a lot people, making automated recruitment essential. And not only that, but AI can improve the quality of the hire, potentially reducing staff turnover.
AI recruitment is on the increase. Here are some tips and tricks for job seekers:
Identify skills-related keywords and include them in your CV
Many types of AI software still take a keyword approach when it comes to scanning CVs. This means it’s well worth uploading it in a way that highlights your skills by matching certain keywords in the job ad. Essentially, you’re targeting your CV concisely to these words to give you the best chance of standing out.
One thing you can do is copy the job description into something like MonkeyLearn - this will show you which keywords appear most often. Then aim to combine general keywords like ‘social media manager’ and ‘product media manager’) with job-specific verbs like ‘edit’, ‘write’ and ‘co-ordinate’.
Weave in the job title
Does the job ad ask for an Accounts Manager but your current job title is Lead Accountant? If so, try and work in the term ‘Accounts Manager’ into your application somewhere. After all, as humans we might recognise that Accounts Manager and Lead Accountant is the same or very similar - but a robot may not.
Also aim to use standard headings like ‘skills’ and ‘work experience’.
Add a dash of jargon
AI programmes are also looking for technical language. Applications and CVs that include a smattering of industry jargon and abbreviations are more likely to stand out. A good way to shoehorn these in is when summarising qualifications.
What about video interviews?
Most recruiters using AI to fill a role will ask applicants to record a video interview. But contrary to popular belief, you can’t cheat an AI interview. In fact, it works pretty much the same as any other.
It’s all pretty standard stuff here. Start off by picking a blank background and making sure your face is well lit. Another tip is to use a slightly better microphone and camera than the ones that come with your computer, if you can. Also, have your notes so that you’re looking into the camera lens itself and not at your screen. Finally, consider the questions you’re likely to be asked and rehearse recording and watching yourself answer them.
These are just a few tips to get started, but recruitment website CV Library put together an interesting article on this subject that’s well worth a read: How to prepare for an AI video interview and assessment.
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