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How to beat A.I. in landing a job

Job applicants now have to contend with the growing use of artificial intelligence in hiring decisions.

How to beat A.I. in landing a job

Facial recognition technology.

Stock.
  • Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used in hiring.
  • AI can analyze the personality and decision-making of potential employees.
  • Consultants can offer advice to candidates on dealing with AI interviews.


Increasingly, artificial intelligence is being used in assessing job applications. It's you versus the robot. How is a human to prevail? By making key adjustments to how you present yourself to the technology, advises a South Korean careers consultant Park Seong-jung. He is among the growing number of professionals who focus on helping clients successfully deal with A.I.

While this eventuality is yet to take off equally everywhere, some countries like South Korea have seen quicker implementation of hiring technology. About a quarter of top 131 corporations already utilize or plan to use AI in making personnel decisions. This trend has spawned the growth of classes like Seong-jung's.

One concrete tip he offers students – if you were to do a video interview involving facial recognition software that can analyze character, you have to think about how your face appears. "Don't force a smile with your lips," suggests the consultant, according to a profile in Reuters. Instead "Smile with your eyes," he says.

In one example of an AI-conducted interview, taken by Reuters reporters, the technology asked interviewees to introduce themselves while examining facial expressions and processing word choices. The AI was also not averse to asking unexpectedly difficult questions like the scenario "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?"

Another aspect to be aware of – AI often utilizes "gamification" tests to analyze your personality and how adaptable you are. It can get as specific as figuring out 37 capabilities of the interviewee and their likelihood in fitting into the position for which they are being considered, explained Chris Jung, a chief manager of software firm Midas IT. What's more – some games have no right or wrong answers. They are used to understand the problem-solving approach of the candidate.

Conscious machines: How will we test artificial intelligence for feeling?

If AI is like a shrink in the machine, how do you convince it you're the best person for the job? It's important to study your competition and to understand the culture of the company you are trying to work at.

Nathan Mondragon, the head psychologist at HireVue, which creates hiring software for such clients as Goldman Sachs and Unilever, described just how pervasive the AI analysis can really get in an interview with the Guardian.

"We break the answers people give down into many thousands of data points, into verbal and non-verbal cues," said 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."

All the data Mondragon's software gathers becomes a score that can be compared to the scores of the company's best employees. It makes sense to hire the kind of people who have already been successful for you.

Another way AI can weed you out before your resume even gets to a human's eyes is through Applicant Tracking Systems (APS), which increasingly rely on artificial intelligence. These are intelligent software scanners that can go through massive pools of data to identify candidates based on certain keywords and assigned data factors. According to a list from the millennial job recruitment site Muse, key ways you can right away improve your presentation to the APS is through streamlining your resume and cover letter. In particular, they recommend keeping the formatting of any documents you send in simple and using the right keywords (checking them with services like Wordle and TagCrowd). More pointers – don't overdo acronyms, and get rid of career objectives.

Last bit of wisdom that bears repeating – run a spell-check.

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A clever new study definitively measures how long it takes for quantum particles to pass through a barrier.

Image source: carlos castilla/Shutterstock
  • Quantum particles can tunnel through seemingly impassable barriers, popping up on the other side.
  • Quantum tunneling is not a new discovery, but there's a lot that's unknown about it.
  • By super-cooling rubidium particles, researchers use their spinning as a magnetic timer.

When it comes to weird behavior, there's nothing quite like the quantum world. On top of that world-class head scratcher entanglement, there's also quantum tunneling — the mysterious process in which particles somehow find their way through what should be impenetrable barriers.

Exactly why or even how quantum tunneling happens is unknown: Do particles just pop over to the other side instantaneously in the same way entangled particles interact? Or do they progressively tunnel through? Previous research has been conflicting.

That quantum tunneling occurs has not been a matter of debate since it was discovered in the 1920s. When IBM famously wrote their name on a nickel substrate using 35 xenon atoms, they used a scanning tunneling microscope to see what they were doing. And tunnel diodes are fast-switching semiconductors that derive their negative resistance from quantum tunneling.

Nonetheless, "Quantum tunneling is one of the most puzzling of quantum phenomena," says Aephraim Steinberg of the Quantum Information Science Program at Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto to Live Science. Speaking with Scientific American he explains, "It's as though the particle dug a tunnel under the hill and appeared on the other."

Steinberg is a co-author of a study just published in the journal Nature that presents a series of clever experiments that allowed researchers to measure the amount of time it takes tunneling particles to find their way through a barrier. "And it is fantastic that we're now able to actually study it in this way."

Frozen rubidium atoms

Image source: Viktoriia Debopre/Shutterstock/Big Think

One of the difficulties in ascertaining the time it takes for tunneling to occur is knowing precisely when it's begun and when it's finished. The authors of the new study solved this by devising a system based on particles' precession.

Subatomic particles all have magnetic qualities, and they spin, or "precess," like a top when they encounter an external magnetic field. With this in mind, the authors of the study decided to construct a barrier with a magnetic field, causing any particles passing through it to precess as they did so. They wouldn't precess before entering the field or after, so by observing and timing the duration of the particles' precession, the researchers could definitively identify the length of time it took them to tunnel through the barrier.

To construct their barrier, the scientists cooled about 8,000 rubidium atoms to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. In this state, they form a Bose-Einstein condensate, AKA the fifth-known form of matter. When in this state, atoms slow down and can be clumped together rather than flying around independently at high speeds. (We've written before about a Bose-Einstein experiment in space.)

Using a laser, the researchers pusehd about 2,000 rubidium atoms together in a barrier about 1.3 micrometers thick, endowing it with a pseudo-magnetic field. Compared to a single rubidium atom, this is a very thick wall, comparable to a half a mile deep if you yourself were a foot thick.

With the wall prepared, a second laser nudged individual rubidium atoms toward it. Most of the atoms simply bounced off the barrier, but about 3% of them went right through as hoped. Precise measurement of their precession produced the result: It took them 0.61 milliseconds to get through.

Reactions to the study

Scientists not involved in the research find its results compelling.

"This is a beautiful experiment," according to Igor Litvinyuk of Griffith University in Australia. "Just to do it is a heroic effort." Drew Alton of Augustana University, in South Dakota tells Live Science, "The experiment is a breathtaking technical achievement."

What makes the researchers' results so exceptional is their unambiguity. Says Chad Orzel at Union College in New York, "Their experiment is ingeniously constructed to make it difficult to interpret as anything other than what they say." He calls the research, "one of the best examples you'll see of a thought experiment made real." Litvinyuk agrees: "I see no holes in this."

As for the researchers themselves, enhancements to their experimental apparatus are underway to help them learn more. "We're working on a new measurement where we make the barrier thicker," Steinberg said. In addition, there's also the interesting question of whether or not that 0.61-millisecond trip occurs at a steady rate: "It will be very interesting to see if the atoms' speed is constant or not."

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