Hedy Tung, Photo Editor

After a number of hiring freezes due to the pandemic last year, many companies are indicating an equal or increased amount of hiring this year, according to David Halek, the director of employer relations at the Office of Career Strategy. 

While recruiting events remain virtual due to COVID-19 concerns, the plan for spring recruitment for jobs and internships is yet to be determined, according to Halek. The virtual recruitment for seniors began on Sept. 10 with industry targeted events, and first round interviews for full-time jobs and internships for the fall began on Sept. 20. Despite hiring freezes last year, Halek told the News that he feels positive about the job prospects for the Class of 2022. 

“I’m very, very optimistic about the number of opportunities for our students who will be graduating this year,” Halek said. 

Halek said his optimism comes from a variety of factors. He told the News that OCS’ annual summer job report showed an all-time high level of summer internships and jobs this past summer, with 55.7 percent of student respondents working paid jobs or internships this past summer. 

According to Halek, not only do companies have excess openings due to last year’s hiring freezes, but they also have extra openings to fill that would normally be occupied by those who had summer internships. 

While recruitment is entirely remote this year, Halek told the News that even in a typical year, only a small portion of companies hire students in person on campus. Additionally, Halek said that students seem to prefer having Office of Career Strategy workshops online even though students are now living on campus. Halek expects these workshops will be a mix of online and in-person in the spring. 

Halek also told the News that the decision to move the workshops online was not only based on Yale’s guidelines, but also the fact that many employers cannot travel currently due to restrictions from their companies. 

Denise Byrnes, associate director of OCS, told the News that OCS has modified its programming to prepare students for virtual recruitment. For the virtual networking events organized by OCS, the office spreads content created by Symplicity — which powers Career Link, Yale’s virtual recruiting platform — on how to navigate the platform and the events. 

Additionally, Byrnes told the News that OCS purchased Big Interview, a mock interview tool that allows students to choose from interview types, record answers and watch them back. OCS also offers workshops on virtual interviews and added a School of Management student to its staff this past summer to provide interview prep on Zoom. 

Meredith Mira, senior associate director at OCS, told the News that due to the pandemic and increased demand for jobs, employers have started using applicant tracking systems, or ATS, and AI interviews, also known as Hire-vues, which have shifted the preparation needed for applicants. 

Mira told the News that ATS is used as an initial AI screening process that looks for certain skill sets,  accomplishments and majors, and 90 percent of companies, mostly large and midsize, use ATS. These screening procedures usually do not look for certain words, but instead they are looking for specific outcomes and can identify when applicants copy wording from job descriptions, according to Mira. Mira added that most websites like LinkedIn and Indeed.com use ATS to automatically screen applications. 

Mira also told the News that AI interviews are a result of both public health concerns and the high demand for jobs. In these interviews, students are given questions with little time to formulate a response before a timed recording takes place. 

Mira said the preparation process for these interviews is not significantly different from in-person interviews but does require some practice to make sure applicants have a clear response with actions and results for the AI system to review. 

“There’s a wide range of students that I’ve spoken with who have gone into these AI interviews, who have been cut off, who have said, ‘I’m not really sure how that went,’” Mira said. “I’m not sure that too many people come out of that feeling like it went that well, but many of them will still move forward.” 

Mira added that the algorithms in ATS and AI interviews could potentially decrease hiring bias, and she believes that both ATS and AI interviews will most likely continue to be used in hiring. 

According to Mira, OCS has been working with Quinccia, which has a system for universities and new job seekers to have their resume reviewed by an AI system to get feedback and do AI interview practice with feedback. OCS has piloted this system mostly with students receiving their master’s degree. 

Mira said that one of the downfalls of ATS is that it turns down 90 to 95 percent of applications after its initial review, but Mira said when combined with AI interviewing, this number decreases to about 60 percent. 

Yash Bhansali ’24 had a positive experience with AI interviewing but thinks it differs significantly from in-person interviewing. 

I do feel it is certainly more equitable and actually allows recruiters to review a greater number of applications and interviews than if they were conducted in person; this is definitely a positive,” Bhansali said, “However, I will say, doing a Hire-vue interview — where you aren’t actually talking to another human being but a software is definitely a mindset and stylistic adjustment for most interviewees.” 

With these innovations in virtual recruitment, Mira emphasized the growing importance of networking as it can help applicants bypass ATS and send their application directly to a real person. Mira told the News that in summer 2020, students got more responses when networking with community members and Yale alumni than ever before.

Bhansali agreed that the virtual environment makes it easier to communicate with professionals, but this also makes it harder to form meaningful connections. 

“In a time when attention spans are rapidly reducing, professionals suffer from Zoom fatigue and each professional is being reached out to by more students, so the ability to leave an impression and be memorable is more paramount than ever before,” Bhansali wrote in an email to the News. 

Mira also said the timeline for recruiting has moved up in the past year, with some companies conducting interviews over the summer, which increases stress for students that now have to make difficult career-related decisions earlier. 

Through Yale Career Link, students can view the dates and times of information sessions that are organized by the companies themselves. 

SARAH COOK