Artificial intelligence is not just about self-driving cars and Silicon Valley. AI has found its way into nearly every job — and even getting that job in the first place. Artificially intelligent programs now systematically screen applications, often before a human hiring manager sees a single CV. Companies are also increasingly turning to AI job interviews, a kind of recorded interview that can screen for professional knowledge and even analyze body language.
Ultimately, the same skills that work for the traditional hiring process can be applied to this brave new world. Here are some simple tips on how to navigate through AI systems so you can land your dream job.
Writing for the computer — and the human
Employers are increasingly using artificial intelligence systems to help them filter and sift through job applications, primarily relying on tools known as Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS. An ATS can automatically compare resumes with the job description and rank applicants based on how closely they match qualifications.
This filtering process mostly boils down to how well the software thinks your resume aligns with the keywords it notices in the job description or the hiring manager asked it to search for.
So how do you spot these key phrases to create an ATS-friendly resume?
“The most important thing is to use the job description as a guide,” said Sara Gould, senior associate director for career engagement at the University of Florida’s Career Connections Center. “Go through the old school with a highlighter, find the language they use in their document, then apply it to yours.”
Focus on required certifications or skills before worrying about “preferred” qualifications. Look for words or phrases that are repeated or significant in the industry. Find out how your experience and skills can be shared using this language.
Formatting is also essential. If the request specifies the type of document to be submitted, follow these instructions carefully. Generally, a raw Word or PDF document is safe. Fancy graphics or complex columns can confuse the reader from the machine, so stick to a simple layout. Most recruiters are interested in the substance rather than the style of a CV anyway.
And don’t make the mistake of trying to outsmart the machine. Tricks like posting the full job description in the resume in invisible white text will get you noticed, but not in a good way. “These things can be flagged as an anomaly,” Gould said. “It’s a machine learning system, so they learn those tricks too.”
Employers who see these warnings on your job application will know that you tried to trick the system.
But never forget that your goal is to impress the human behind the AI. Avoid robotic keyword lists. Try to seamlessly integrate the most important qualifications, skills and key phrases into normal language so that your own humanity shines through.
Resume keyword scanners also make the personal touch more important than ever.
“Don’t let them stop you from networking, following, reaching out,” Gould said. “There’s still one person there.”
AI Interviews Do’s and Don’ts
Also known as recorded interviews, AI interviews are an increasingly common screening tool. They usually ask candidates to record themselves answering timed interview questions. AI interviews can also include skills tests, where candidates must demonstrate domain-specific knowledge or answer questions designed to test critical thinking. While basic programs can simply send recordings to hiring managers, more sophisticated ones can analyze responses, tone, even facial expressions and eye contact.
“Some companies are seeing the virtual interview as the new resume,” said Ja’Net Glover, director of career services at UF.
As part of the shift to skills-based hiring, these virtual interviews and skills tests can help employers find the right candidates early in the process.
It may seem daunting, but preparing for an AI interview is similar to preparing for an in-person or video interview with a human.
“Ask the employer you are interviewing about what to expect during the process,” Glover said. If you learn what software they use, check the program’s website and research how it works. You can even use similar tools to practice. Both Google and LinkedIn offer machine learning-based interview prep.
In addition to doing your research, take the AI interview as seriously as you would any other. Dress appropriately for work. Find a quiet, well-lit room to record your responses. Imagine talking with a live interviewer and acting the same way: warm and professional, without too much fuss.
An advantage for job seekers? They will be at home.
“Candidates can control many factors that they would have no control over in a standard interview,” Glover said. This gives job seekers the opportunity to practice in the environment in which they will be required to work. And practice is always the key to good maintenance.
“The more they practice, the more it will help them feel confident and prepared,” Glover said.
UF’s Career Connections Center helps prepare students to navigate the AI-powered hiring process with guidance, practices, and feedback from career counselors.
Starting in the fall 2022 semester, the Career Center will also provide access to Quinncia, a new machine learning-based interview preparation tool that provides personalized resume and interview feedback for job searches based on on AI. Much like resume reviews and practice interviews with human trainers — which will always be a good idea — practicing with the types of AI software UF students will encounter can give them a head start on competition.
Career coaches also continuously educate other staff and faculty on campus on the evolving use of technology in the hiring process. And they’re working with employers to identify trends in AI tools to prepare students for what’s on the horizon.
“This technology will continue to evolve,” Glover said. “It’s not going anywhere.”