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How Well Do You Treat Your Graduate Applicants?


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.


Want to see if Accountests will work for your company or firm?  Click on the button for a FREE trial worth up to $200 - use it on a candidate or get one of your staff to give it a go and see what they think.  


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?


Have you ever made recruitment decisions you lived to regret?  Are you given recruitment responsibilities on top of your day job and struggle to find time to do it all?  Get our compact Accountant & Bookkeeper Recruitment Guide for free.   

An easy reference document covering the whole process from scoping the Job Description for upcoming vacancies, right through to making better job offers than your competitors and sealing the deal, and every step in between.  Written by Accounting firm Partners, HR/People Management professionals within the accounting and bookkeeping sector and drawing on established and emerging best practice in selection techniques in Australasia, the UK and US, you can have access to a wealth of practical recruitment and selection knowledge and links to external expertise and reusable templates whenever you need it.


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.

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