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Vatel Suisse, Projet UBImpressed

The UBImpressed project initiated in 2014, aims to improve the social skills of students in two key areas of their future careers: job interviews and front desk service. This project is open to all students of Vatel Switzerland, and is the result of collaboration between Vatel Switzerland, Idiap Research Institute (AI), the University of Lausanne (social psychology) and Cornell University (wearable sensors).

In addition to helping students to make a good impression during potentially crucial interactions for their careers, this project has a significant research component. Indeed, it is to better understand what are the verbal and non-verbal behaviors associated with good first
impressions and to evaluate the feasibility of an automatic detection of first impressions using computer processing techniques system signal and artificial intelligence. The ultimate goal of this project is to create a computer system capable of giving an automatic feedback to students so that they can train in the best conditions to make a good impression.

For students, this project represents a great opportunity to improve their professional behaviour, for instance when they have to deal with unhappy customers.

The procedure is as follows:

1. They first participate to two role plays: a job interview and a front desk scenario. Both are saved. During the job interview, students applying for a trainee position at a four-star hotel. Students must address standard topics like "introduce yourself in a few words," "What is your motivation for this position," or "weak points and key competencies" During the front desk role play, students have to deal with an unhappy customer complaining of errors on the invoice and that they have to satisfy.

2. The videos are then sent to experts (human resource professionals for job interviews, and professionals in the hotel industry for the reception script) that will give their views on the strengths and areas for improvement.
Students are then invited to a feedback session in small groups where they follow a presentation on first impressions. This one will be held by comportemental psychology researchers. Then they analyze extracts from the video recordings and discuss on what was good and what needs to be improved. Finally, videos are sent via email a few days after the feedback was done.

3. During this phase of the program, students redo both scenarios described in point 1 above. Recordings are once again sent to the experts and the students receive their feedback together with the video for futher review and analysis.

From a students point of view, this program is a huge pedagogic asset for their job-hunting and for the improvement of their professional behaviour.