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Screened out by a computer? What job interviews are like without human beings – CBC.ca

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues, job-seekers expect to attend employment interviews online. But increasingly, the employers and recruiters looking to hire are sitting those same interviews out.

Instead of asking candidates questions face-to-face, many hiring managers are now relying on asynchronous video interview (AVI) platforms that have candidates record answers to questions under a countdown timer.

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AVIs, which are also called one-way or on-demand interviews, have been around for years but their use has surged during the pandemic. 

A spokesperson for the American company HireVue, one of the larger companies operating in the market, said the company has seen a 24 per cent increase for its on-demand video interviews during the past year.

VidCruiter’s platform can eliminate the need for logistics such as scheduling interviews, because candidates interview with the automated system at their home on their own timeline. (Submitted by Carlos DaPonte/VidCruiter)

In the same time period, Toronto-based Knockri quadrupled its customers, and Moncton-based VidCruiter doubled its staff.

A representative with VidCruiter told CBC Radio’s The Cost of Living it used to earn 99 per cent of its revenue from clients outside Canada, but that has changed in the past three years. The company said its clients include the CBC, Canadian universities, big corporations — such as Lowe’s — and the federal government. 

Candidates may find one-way interviews uncomfortable, and some experts pose questions over fairness, privacy, bias and the use of artificial intelligence. Despite these concerns, industrial-organizational psychologists predict the one-way job interview format is not going away.

Why hiring managers like the one-way interview

Using AVIs can eliminate having to navigate complicated and conflicting schedules, because candidates complete them on their own time. They can also cut travel costs if candidates are screened out before having to meet a potential employer in person.

One of the reasons why a lot of companies are turning to this technology is because of efficiency.– Edwin Torres, University of Central Florida

Timed questions also force candidates to be more succinct with their answers than they might be in traditional interviews. 

Edwin Torres, a professor in the Rosen College of Hospitality management at the University of Central Florida, has interviewed hiring managers from hospitality companies using AVIs.

“One of the reasons why a lot of companies are turning to this technology is because of efficiency,” he said.

In addition, video recordings mean employers can re-watch interviews and share them with colleagues.

Job-seekers are not as keen on them

Companies claim AVIs can level the playing field by standardizing job interviews, but some candidates have expressed mixed feelings about the format.

Beatriz Gascon, a student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus, struggled during an AVI interview for an internship at genetic sequencing company Illumina, based in the United Kingdom.

Beatriz Gascon was not a fan of her asynchronous interview for an internship. (Submitted by Beatriz Gascon)

Gascon said she appreciated being able to re-record answers on the HireVue platform, but she froze during her second attempt answering a difficult question.

The platform submitted her second attempt, but she did not get the internship.

Gascon said she prefers face-to-face interviews because talking to a person calms her nerves and the format is more forgiving.

“Usually you have time to make small talk or repeat the question back to yourself,” she said but was frustrated that during her timed, one-way interview there was no way to do that, and no time to waste at even going over a question a second time.

Experts find some won’t complete AVIs

According to researchers at the University of Calgary, some candidates are so against one-way interviews in this format, they refuse to complete them.

“There are a number of people who feel very passionately negative,” said Joshua Bourdage, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Calgary.

Companies using AVIs don’t need to bring candidates together like they might have pre-pandemic, as illustrated in this stock photo. (Shutterstock / fizkes)

Bourdage and PhD candidate Eden-Raye Lukacik are researching perceptions of AVIs, including searching and scraping websites for comments about the interview format and then analyzing the emotions conveyed.

Many commenters complained that the AVI process may be more efficient for companies, but the interviews signal an unwillingness to invest time in speaking with applicants.

According to Bourdage, many job-seekers are interpreting this as a signal of what it would be like to work at a company that uses an AVI process.

How are the videos and recordings judged?

Since companies’ algorithms are proprietary and not shared publicly, neither candidates nor academics can fully understand how the recorded videos are evaluated. 

Many companies use AVIs as a screening tool before scheduling face-to-face interviews with short-listed candidates, and some use artificial intelligence to rate what candidates say and how they say it.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can scan for keywords as well as analyze body language and facial expressions.

AI’s advocates claim it can reduce unconscious bias if trained to ignore things like race and gender but this isn’t universally accepted.

“The problem with that technology is that it has biases built into it,” said Sean Fahey, CEO of VidCruiter.

The company’s own research found speech patterns varied in different regions in the U.S. and Canada. For example, an AI system programmed by someone who lived in one of those regions would automatically have a bias according to Fahey.

VidCruiter decided not to use AI in its product until the technology has been proven not to discriminate.

Researchers agree that artificial intelligence can be biased based on who programs it.

“As long as we train those systems on human ratings, on what the human raters tell us about those interviews, it’s so easy to have biases in this data,” said Markus Langer, a postdoctoral researcher in industrial-organizational psychology at Saarland University in Germany.

Langer, who researches AI and asynchronous interviews, said identifying biases is easier with a large and diverse dataset — something that isn’t always available.

How can candidates prepare?

Though Canadians may be comfortable recording videos in a social context, many are unprepared for AVIs according to Kimberley Black, a researcher who hopes to change that.

“Preparation for asynchronous video interviews needs to be a mandatory part of the curriculum now,” said Black, whose recently-defended masters thesis for Ontario Tech University focused on preparing students for asynchronous and one-way interviews.

Ontario Tech University researcher Kimberley Black wants to see asynchronous interview preparation become a mandatory subject for students. (Submitted by Kimberley Black)

Black had college students complete AVIs and critique their peers’ interviews. According to her, the experience led many to realize how much they could improve.

She recommends candidates wear professional clothing, smile, record in front of a neutral background, use hand gestures, and remember to look straight into the camera lens while speaking.

If struggling with that last tip, Black suggests taping a sticky note with a smiley face by the len.

At the University of Calgary, researcher Eden-Raye Lukacik recommends practicing, either by using the interview platform itself where possible or through a practice tool offered by her lab.

Lukacik also said candidates should also present themselves honestly, and pick a time and space that works best for them as they have an edge.

“You kind of get home-court advantage because you’re in your own house.” 


Written and produced by Madeleine Cummings.
Click “listen” at the top of the page to hear this segment, or 
download the Cost of Living podcast.

The Cost of Living airs every week on CBC Radio One, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. (12:30 NT).

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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