Using an AI app to ace your next job interview
You’ve got an interview for a dream job. But how do you stand out from the crowd and how can you practice interview skills? UTS Startups founder and Master of Data Science and Innovation student, Rajith Haththotuwegama, has created a solution with Interview Trainer. Rajith describes how he’s combined his corporate work experience with artificial intelligence and machine learning to launch a new app to help job seekers.
I remember my first job interview experience - it was a telephone interview. I had applied for a graduate role with Commonwealth Bank and before the phone call had even ended, I already knew I had not done very well. Before it wrapped up, I gathered up all my courage and as a final comment I said: “If you give me a chance, I will work hard and prove that I can do this job.”
I never asked my manager how I got the job, but I’m sure my last comment changed his mind.
I was with CBA for more than two years and then with Macquarie Bank for over 12 years where I travelled and worked in 10 countries, deploying new technologies to transform the business. After 22 years in the corporate sector, I am now passionately focused on innovation using artificial intelligence and machine learning in my own startup!
That first phone job interview was traumatic! I’m still a little apprehensive about going for interviews and what has helped me to become more comfortable with presenting my true self, is practice, practice and more practice.
Over my career, I have met and hired some amazing individuals and most of them did not interview well. That’s how Interview Trainer was born. A tool that helps people prepare for being their best self for a job interview. A tool that they can use in their safe space at any time, giving them immediate feedback.
At the beginning of last year, I pitched the proof of concept to a university. They loved the idea but explained that it’s not scalable to have one-on-one mock interviews with all the students that needed it. They also said many students don’t end up attending mock interview sessions as they feel it’s confronting.
Our research also surfaced that existing tools are not modern or portable. I was motivated to better understand the challenges students face and get a team together to build a solution that solves this problem.
At that point, while studying my Masters in Data Science and Innovation at UTS, I was connected with UTS Careers who opened doors and helped organise focus groups with students for their direct feedback. This was a pivotal moment as students began helping shape the development of the app.
Following the advice of many people at UTS, I joined the UTS Startups community which only opened more doors and connected us with many industry leaders that we otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet. Mentors like Peter Davison have steered us in the right direction, the physical co-working space has helped us house our growing team, and the UTS Startups team are always on hand, cheering us on from the sidelines!
It’s an understatement to say that it has been a hugely challenging year for me as a founder. Leaving a secure, well-paid corporate job to prioritise paying your staff before yourself has been tough when you have a family to support. Having a highly talented team and the belief that following your passion and doing something that will impact people's lives has given me the strength to overcome so many setbacks and to persist with my journey.
The foundational skills I developed as an engineering student at UTS, such as complex problem solving, has been one of my strongest attributes for success. If I think beyond the modern buildings and amazing facilities, the true learning for me was guided by the educators who were part of my life. UTS Startups makes the university a truly unique and a fantastic place for learning and following your passions.
The biggest learning in my startup journey so far is having the courage to listen to your own instincts. When you are in the startup ecosystem, you meet a lot of people who are willing to offer you advice. While this is great and shows the generosity and willingness to share, every decision you make is your own and each has its own consequences. If I reflect on every challenge I’ve faced as a founder, it’s usually a result of not listening to my instincts and following someone else’s advice. I suggest following your instincts as they always point you in the right direction.
We are planning to roll out Interview Trainer to more universities, TAFEs and other educational institutes. With quite a lot of interest from Asia, the US and UK, our plan is to deploy the app globally.
I’m nearing the completion of my second masters totalling three degrees at UTS - Master of Data Science and Innovation, Master of Media Arts and Production, Bachelor of Engineering - Computer Science. For me, UTS is my home of education and the home of my startup.
Interview Trainer, powered by Magellan Digital, is now live in the App Store and as a part of the launch, it is free for all students until 31 October 2019.
Do you have a problem you want to solve? UTS Startups can help you turn your idea into a business - find out more here.