‘Smile along with your eyes’: The best way to beat South Korea’s AI hiring bots and land a job


SEOUL (Reuters) – In cram school-obsessed South Korea, college students fork out for courses in all the things from Ok-pop auditions to actual property offers. Now, prime Korean corporations are rolling out synthetic intelligence in hiring – and jobseekers need to discover ways to beat the bots.

Kim Seok-wu, a college senior majoring in administration, demonstrates an AI interview program in Sungnam, South Korea, November 20, 2019. Image taken November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji


From his basement workplace in downtown Gangnam, careers guide Park Seong-jung is amongst these in a rising enterprise of providing classes in dealing with recruitment screening by computer systems, not folks. Video interviews utilizing facial recognition know-how to investigate character are key, based on Park.

“Don’t force a smile with your lips,” he instructed college students searching for work in a current session, considered one of many he mentioned he has performed for a whole lot of individuals. “Smile with your eyes.”

Courses in coping with AI in hiring, now being utilized by main South Korean conglomerates like SK Innovation (096770.KS) and Hyundai Engineering & Development (000720.KS), are nonetheless a tiny area of interest within the nation’s multi-billion greenback cram faculty trade. However courses are rising quick, operators like Park’s Individuals & Individuals consultancy declare, providing a three-hour package deal for as much as 100,000 gained ($86.26).


There’s good purpose to see potential. As many as eight out of each 10 South Korean college students are estimated to have used cram faculties, and rampant youth unemployment within the nation – practically one in 4 younger individuals are not within the workforce by sure measures, based on Statistics Korea – presents a motive not current in different nations the place cram faculties are well-liked, like Japan.

“The AI won’t be naturally asking personal questions,” mentioned Yoo Wan-jae, a 26-year-old searching for work within the hospitality trade. “That will make it a bit uncomfortable … I’ll need to sign up for cram schools for the AI interview,” mentioned Yoo, talking in Seoul’s Noryangjin district, often known as ‘Exam Village’, filled with cram faculties and school rooms.


Companies around the globe are experimenting with more and more superior AI strategies for whittling down applicant lists.


However Lee Soo-young, a director of Korea Superior Institute of Science and Know-how (KAIST) Institute for Synthetic Intelligence, instructed Reuters by phone the brand new know-how is being extra extensively embraced in South Korea, the place massive employers wield a lot affect in a tightening job market.

Based on Korea Financial Analysis Institute (KERI), practically 1 / 4 of the highest 131 firms within the nation presently use or plan to make use of AI in hiring.

One AI video system reviewed by Reuters asks candidates to introduce themselves, throughout which it spots and counts facial expressions together with ‘fear’ and ‘joy’ and analyses phrase decisions. It then asks questions that may be powerful: “You are on a business trip with your boss and you spot him using the company (credit) card to buy himself a gift. What will you say?”

AI hiring additionally makes use of ‘gamification’ to gauge a candidate’s persona and adaptableness by placing them by means of a sequence of exams.

“Through gamification, employers can check 37 different capabilities of an applicant and how well the person fits into a position,” mentioned Chris Jung, a chief supervisor of software program agency Midas IT in Pangyo, a tech hub dubbed South Korea’s Silicon Valley.

Making ready for such exams doesn’t essentially contain merely memorizing solutions. “Some games don’t even have a ‘right answer’, as they are aimed to spot the problem-solving attitude of the applicant,” Jung mentioned.


At Individuals & Individuals, guide Park mentioned he gave AI hiring talks to over 700 college college students, graduates and lecturers in 2019.

“Students are struggling from the emergence of AI interviews. My goal is to help them be fully prepared for what they will be dealing with,” mentioned Park.

In a web based chat room monitored by Park, with greater than 600 members, quite a few messages point out thanks for the courses and success in AI interview quests.

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However elsewhere, some who haven’t but taken classes have already given up.

Kim Seok-wu, a 22-year-old senior at a prime college, just lately didn’t get past an AI interview for a administration place at a retail firm, and determined to pursue graduate faculty as a substitute of looking for a job.

“I think I will feel hopeless if all companies go AI for hiring,” Kim mentioned. “The AI interview is too new, so job applicants don’t know what to prepare for and any preparations seem meaningless since the AI will read our faces if we make something up.”

Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Modifying by Jack Kim, Josh Smith and Kenneth Maxwell

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