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New academies cash in on chaebol dreams

Oct 29,2018
Korea’s salaried employees receive an average of 33.6 million won ($29,500) per year. This stands in stark contrast to what an employee at Samsung Electronics, one of the most coveted workplaces in Korea, receives - an average of 117 million won per year.

Acknowledging the difference, Korea’s private education market, known for its light-speed response to market demand, has started to offer private consulting dedicated to conglomerate job interviews.

Most of the consultants, of course, focus on Samsung Electronics.

These institutions promote themselves with advertisements saying things like, “one-on-one tutor with former HR employee from Samsung Electronics.” The price of these sessions can be as high as 600,000 won per hour.

“Consultants who worked for Samsung Electronics for at least 20 years give you the advice,” said the head of one of these institutions surnamed Kim. “It is a lot of money, but as long as it helps you to get in, it is not a waste.”

There have been other institutions dedicated to job interviews in the past, but what differentiates the latest trend is that former Samsung Electronics employees, who have worked in HR departments and handled job interviews, are the ones helping the students, according to Kim.

“Other institutions don’t have a single clue on who oversees the interviews or even how many interviewers participate in the session,” said one of the consultants surnamed Lee who asked for anonymity. “Just knowing these little details helps students to be much more confident about the interview.”

It is not guaranteed, however, that job interviews will take the same format every year. After all, these consultants are former employees at Samsung Electronics who don’t have anything to do with the company’s current hiring process.

Samsung Electronics makes sure that employment procedures are carried out under strict confidentiality.

“Not a single piece of information about the employment process is leaked,” said an HR department employee at Samsung Electronics.

“I’ve heard that former workers here have set up institutions to give consultations on job interviews and they have their freedom to pick such a job. What’s sure is that such institutions don’t have anything to do with us now,” the employee added.

Consultants like Lee know that there is no point trying to get information about interviews out of people that still work for Samsung Electronics.

“I never contact those who are currently engaged with recruiting at Samsung Electronics,” said Lee. “I privately meet with those who are not engaged in the employment process and try to puzzle out the sporadic pieces of information they give me to estimate how the interview will be this year.”

Another consultant surnamed Park, who worked for Samsung Electronics for 20 years in the global marketing team, said the core recruitment tactic - the search for the so-called Samsung Man - is not likely to change.

“Details are likely to change, but the identity of the Samsung Man won’t change easily,” Park said. “A Samsung employee knows best what kind of quality a Samsung Man is supposed to have.”

A Samsung Electronics spokesperson said the company doesn’t have any official statement to give on the latest interview preparation trend.

A former interviewer at Samsung Electronics said there are limits to where these consultations can take the students.

“Especially in the case of interviews related to specific duties, it is hardly possible for these consultants to train the students in a short amount of time” the official said.

“Interviewers have at least a Master’s degree, and unless the interviewee has a deep understanding of his or her major, it is hard to answer the questions.”

BY KO RAN [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]