Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program implements a fair and objective selection process with Aspiring Minds’ AI powered assessments and video interviewing technology


Industry: Education

Region: Middle East

Solution: SVAR


Business Impact - Crossroads Emerging Leaders Programimplements a fair and objective selectionprocess with Aspiring Minds’ AI poweredassessments and video interviewingtechnology (Aspiring Minds)

The Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program is a collaboration between the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University (The Mittal Institute) and the Harvard Business School Club of the GCC (HBS). The program is a fully-funded career development opportunity for first-generation college students from South and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa to attend a 7-day program based in Dubai.

The 2017 inaugural program processed thousands of applicants from eight countries to participate in the program. One of the biggest challenges facing the Mittal Institute selection team was the time it took to effectively and fairly evaluate over 1500 applicants. In 2017, it took over 40 days to manually evaluate candidates which was just too long. The goal for the 2018 program was to have an even larger, more diverse student body so they needed to automate the evaluation process.



The selection board was concerned about the rigor needed to fairly select a diverse group of students based on their analytical, language and behavioral skills, and life experiences. The board selected the Aspiring Minds platform because it was the only platform they believed could reliably and objectively whittle down the very large candidate pool to a reasonable number.



The Crossroads Emerging Leaders program requires candidates to exhibit both qualitative and quantitative skills. To accomplish this, Aspiring Minds recommended AI-powered talent assessments, WriteX and the AutoView video interviewing solution.

The adaptive cognitive assessment quickly hones-in on candidates’ quantitative and logical abilities to identify candidates with the strongest cognitive and problem-solving skills. WriteX, powered with natural language processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence analyzes descriptive essays written in English to identify best candidates on the basis of content quality, grammar and structure. The AI powered AutoView technology objectively analyzed candidates’ communications skills, personality, behaviors and responses to questions to identify candidates most likely to experience success at Crossroads. This is the same technology used by hundreds of Fortune 500 companies to select talent at scale.

Aspiring Minds implemented a 2-hurdle assessment process to quickly and accurately review a thousand candidates. The first hurdle was to shortlist candidates using a combination of language, cognitive and personality/behavioral evaluations. Candidates received automated email invitations to take these validated assessments. The second hurdle was to administer a video interview to shortlisted candidates. Video interviews helped the team “get to know the candidates.” The team could cross-reference the candidate’s English writing proficiency with his oral capability. In addition, the video interviews were helpful to assess real time communication/thinking skills of the candidate.

Round 1: The screening process

  • Over a 10-day period, Aspiring Minds delivered short, engaging assessments covering English, Logical Ability, Quantitative Ability and Written English Test (WriteX). Strong auto-proctoring and anti-plagiarism technology ensured high integrity of the assessments, eliminating any chance of cheating.
  • The Mittal Institute selection team required a holistic assessment of the candidates’ aptitude across the four modules. Based on this requirement, Aspiring Minds selected candidates based on their performance across these modules to recommend the shortlist for Round 2.

Round 2: The video interview

  • Evaluated the remaining candidates using a customized module of AutoView, Aspiring Minds’ online video interviewing program. The customized assessments included validated questions from the AM question banks as well as questions developed by the Mittal Institute to ensure a truly relevant and holistic evaluation.
  • Within 7 days, based on AI powered analytics and voice recognition technology, Aspiring Minds pared the list in half. The program selection team was able to play back and share the entire interview for each candidate including all feedback. Whether or not a candidate became a finalist, these interview replays provided invaluable feedback giving them an opportunity to self-reflect on performance.

Round 3: The final selection process

The final selection included a diverse student body of eighty candidates from Central Asia, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Forty-percent of the candidates who attended the program were women.

Aspiring Minds provided support services including email outreach to candidates, detailed performance analytics, fully configured ready-to-go co-branded assessments and reports.



Streamlined selection process. The Aspiring Minds assessment solution resulted in 80% fewer candidate interviews conducted. Streamlining and automating the front-end of the process resulted in saving approximately 1900 hours of interview time. The selection team could focus their efforts on interviewing the best candidates.

Dramatically improved speed to selection process. With automated assessments and real-time AI powered evaluations, selection time for the ultimate shortlist dropped to 10 days from 40 days.

Delightful candidate experience. An easy-to-use intuitive solution made it extremely simple to take assessments from the comfort of home, college or work. 100 percent cloud-based technology ensured network infrastructure would not interfere with the assessment process.

Efficient and streamlined implementation. 24/7 technical support services ensured there were no technical glitches for any of the candidates and they could easily complete their evaluations.



SVAR® is an automated AI-powered assessment of spoken English proficiency. SVAR auto-evaluates and scores candidates across six key parameters: pronunciation, fluency, active listening, grammar, vocabulary and spoken English comprehension. It features advanced voice recognition technology that can score candidates with native accents accurately to ensure that scores correlate highly to a human evaluator. The scores are reliable and benchmarked to internationally-accepted CEFR standards, and includes recommendations for “hire” and “train.” SVAR typically takes less than 15 minutes to complete and can be accessed by smartphone, personal computer or IVR phone line.


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