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Winning the Graduate Talent Game: Insights for Employers

How well do you treat your graduate applicants?

The last year of university is stressful, for the students… and their parents. A few 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 organization. If it takes 3-4 weeks for candidates to hear the outcome of an application it creates the impression your organization is poorly organized 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 centers. 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 organizations if the workplace itself is not appealing.

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?

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 landed a job at Xero).


Want to see if Accountests will work for your firm? Click on the button for a FREE trial test - use it on a candidate or get one of your staff to give it a go and see what they think.  
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Giles Pearson  |  After 18 years as a partner with a large public accounting firm, Giles founded Accountests to help those recruiting accountants make better hiring decisions

Accountests  |  Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical skills, ability and personality tests designed by and for accountants and bookkeepers. 
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