AI is increasingly involved in recruitment. But how do you get on the right side of a computer that is reading your CV, running an aptitude test or assessing you in an online interview?
It’s impossible to argue with a computer, which is why the famous Little Britain TV comedy skit – ‘The computer says “No”!’ – is so memorable. However, there are ways to get around recruitment algorithms and perform better in an AI video interview.
You have just a few seconds (between 5 and 7) to impress someone with your CV. Hiring managers will quickly scan your résumé to decide whether or not to reject your application.
It’s easy to spot ones that will be instantly dismissed: too short or too long (2 pages max), too unusual (the rejection rate for those with photos is around 88%), badly presented and littered with spelling mistakes . . . with barely a glance, these will all be filed away (or binned).
It doesn’t give you much time to make a good impression.
However, if you think that someone in HR is hard to please, try impressing a computer algorithm.
A human being might, at least, see your potential if you write a convincing personal statement and a powerful cover letter showing that you have the ability and determination to succeed in a role for which you don’t quite have the right qualifications or experience.
When the process is automated, whether or not you get past the first few stages of the hiring process is all down to data. If you fail to score highly, you’ll never get hired – however brilliant you are. So what are the clever hacks?
Always include everything asked for in the job spec in your CV . . . and use exactly the same words.
So if the candidate requirements say ‘Must be proficient in Excel’, say ‘proficient in Excel’ rather than ‘Have experience of using spreadsheets’.
Yes, you might not quite have the required level of expertise, but you can then explain that. The main thing is to pass the first hurdle. You could, for example, say ‘Proficient in Excel: with a relevant qualification’ – then go online to sites such as reed.co.uk or udemy.com and sign up for an online course. For £10 or so and 4–16 hours of online study you could have a qualification.
The other advantage is that you can then add this to your LinkedIn profile and other job applications.
At the very least make sure you include all the ‘musts’ and as many of the ‘desirables’ as possible.
- Tailor your CV to each job. You won’t know in advance which applications are screened by algorithms and which by a human being . . . so play safe.
- Don’t lie – but be creative. If the job spec requires ‘At least 5 years in a leadership role’ you could add in leading a team (even if that was only 2 of you) or leading a project, to stretch your years of experience to 5.
- Remember your aim is to get to the interview stage – most firms are struggling to find candidates that tick all the boxes, so don’t be afraid of applying for jobs where you don’t quite have all the qualifications and experience that is required. As long as you pass the initial screening, you can then elaborate on your answers in person . . . and hopefully impress the interviewer so much that you land the job.
Increasingly often employers are posting online assessment tests to pre-screen applicants.
If possible, set up a dummy account, so that you can go through the process and familiarize yourself with it before doing it for real. Also see if there are any similar aptitude tests online.
- If the test is timed or a stretch, you might want to do a test run several times. However, if you find the test a real struggle perhaps this isn’t the job for you.
- If the employer leaves the assessment until the day of the interview, prepare – you might be asked to prove your proficiency in a particular program, so go online and do a quick refresher course to get up to speed.
Some employers also undertake personality profiling to make sure you have the right characteristics for the role.
The key with this is to be totally honest. Relax and complete the assessment truthfully – using the first thing that comes to mind as your answer, rather than overthinking each question.
If you lie in a personality test, it can be easily spotted. Often assessments take this into account – as they know that people tend to answer with what they think they should say, rather than what they honestly feel in the first 10 or 20 answers. After that they tend to relax and tell the truth.
- Being honest is important – if you are the wrong fit for the job, it will not work out and you could find yourself out of work and with little or no severance (remember, you have virtually no rights in the first 2 years of employment).
- If the assessment is in a group situation or you are asked to perform a mock sales pitch/presentation etc. at the interview, be the best version of yourself rather than trying to be someone else.
Unconscious bias is a problem in recruitment and is the reason for a lack of diversity within organizations.
Interviewers tend to have preconceptions about individuals and often look for similarities – leading to them hiring a ‘mini me’. This can leave organizations open to discrimination claims.
This – along with the need to reduce costs – has led to the introduction of AI as an interviewing tool.
However, it is very disconcerting to find yourself talking to a computer screen rather than a real human being.
- Practise, practise, practise. You will often be given a set time limit to answer each question. Umming and ahhing or lengthy pauses will impact on your score.
- Video yourself answering questions – some AI programs look at your body language, which can give away tell-tale signs of lying (such as looking away or to one side).
- Treat a video interview as a real interview – get a good night’s sleep, dress to impress, don’t drink too much coffee and try to relax.
- Stick a photo of someone you like and want to impress (even a celebrity) next to your screen camera. Visualize yourself talking to this real person and your conversation will be more natural – your eyes will also be looking towards the camera, rather than down, and this can make you appear more professional and confident.
So be prepared for AI when you’re applying for your next position. Remember these few tips and behavioural tweaks to handle selection and assessment algorithms and give yourself the best chance of having a happy ending to your job-search story.
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