How well do you treat your graduate applicants?
The last year of university is stressful, for the students… and their parents. Just a couple of years ago both my daughters, in their final year of studies, were applying for graduate positions.
After dealing with late-night requests to read applications, tears, frustration and finally elation when they received an offer the process has gave me an insight into what works, and what doesn’t.
1) Candidates are judging you too
Negative experiences throughout the recruitment process alters the applicant’s perception of your organisation. If it takes 3-4 weeks for candidates to hear the outcome of an application it creates the impression your organization is poorly organised and doesn’t care. It’s also extremely stressful – imagine waiting a phone call that could change your life every day for four weeks on end?
The same goes for assessment centres. Candidates will be assessing your office culture; is it busy? Does it have good vibe? Are staff members welcoming and interested? Candidates with multiple offers will reject organisations if the workplace itself is not appealing.
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2) Graduates are savvy
Students will make use of their biggest asset when working through your selection process – one another. Your applicants often go to the same university and take the same classes, they will work together to complete online testing and prepare applications.
Not only is this unfair for students who complete the tests honestly, the tests themselves may not be an accurate representation of your candidates unless you take steps to verify that graduate applicants complete their assessments unassisted.
3) Practice makes perfect
You will see a different candidate later on in a hiring season than early on. The more applications a student submits (and the more rejections they receive) the more they will learn. For example, one of my daughter’s friends was rejected by one organization for not using STAR structured interview answers. At her next interview she used STAR and received an offer. What had really changed?
How effective are your hiring processes when the majority of applicants can play the game?
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4) Give honest feedback
Be honest and clear in your feedback; if you didn’t like a candidate tell them why. Students would rather be told the truth and learn from it for future applications.
Graduate recruitment is stressful – for you, the candidate and their parents. Remember that your applicants are balancing studying, part time jobs and personal lives. They are under immense pressure from themselves, their parents and their university lecturers to do well.
Giving a little thought to your applicants can go a long way, and help land you the hires you want
Happy recruiting! - Giles Pearson, Parent of two now successfully employed Victoria University of Wellington graduates (including one who hated accounting now working for Xero – ironic).
About the Authors
Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.
Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.
Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers.