The Challenges Awaiting Graduate Job Hunters
Screening interviews and specific screening criteria are now part and parcel of the graduate recruitment landscape. Whether it’s detailed interviews via telephone, online ability or psychometric tests or delving deep into a candidate’s social media profiles, recruiters now make it their mission to ensure that the applicant who lands the job is one who is very well suited to the role, their company and their culture.
In this year’s gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey we asked employers what method, or methods, of pre-screening they used before inviting candidates to interview. A pre-interview telephone call remains the most common practice, with 46% saying they used this, while online ability tests (42%) and online psychometric tests (39%) were also very popular. Obviously, these are more common in roles that are technical or analytical in nature and are used as a filter through which to sort applicants who may not measure up in the hard skills department. Video interviews are used by 37%, the fourth year in a row, this method has increased in popularity. Traditionally a video interview was akin to a Skype call, where you would chat face to face with your potential employer. Increasingly, video interviews now take the shape of automated video interviews. During an automated video interview, you are not able to see anyone, you can’t read any facial expressions or judge a tone of voice to gauge how you are getting on.
In these interviews, you have to record your answers to a series of questions that display on the screen every few minutes, an average of between 6 and ten per interview. Once you’ve recorded your answers, the session ends automatically, and your answers are then available for the employer to view. No second takes, no second chances. Sounds daunting right? Well according to more research done at gradireland, it is, with students and graduates identifying the automated video interview as the stage of the application when they are most likely to drop out of the process altogether.
Employers know this is tough, and in some ways that’s the point, to see how you react in unexpected circumstances. Here are the views of careers expert Sinéad English, from the consultancy HILT, on this process. “Students receive an email with a link to an interview site and they have normally three to four days from then in which to complete the interview.” “The email contains some advice on what to expect and how to prepare in order to perform well,” English said. “Most employers will allow you to do some practice questions to see how you look and sound but once you start the interview there are not normally any opportunities to retake questions.” "My advice would be to get used to talking to a blank screen, ask someone to review and critique your practice responses and make sure you make full use of the practice zone.” Although you can’t see the employer, they can of course see you when reviewing your answers, so make sure you are in a well-lit environment and be aware of the importance of body language and delivery,” English explained.
If you get past this phase and get to the interview room, you can expect to face a competence-based interview, sometimes in front of a panel or indeed followed by a technical interview for roles which have very specific technical requirements. In terms of other selection criteria that employers use, having the right core competencies and achieving a minimum 2:1 in your degree are the two criteria most common amongst employers. Other common criteria are relevant work experience, passing in-house psychometric testing or studying specific degree courses. The actual university you studied in is not of relevant to most employers.
In terms of what employers deem important when attracting the right graduates, 87% said that they believed career development was the most important element, followed by company culture and employer brand perception. With current generation of graduates more aspirational than ever before, this reveals that employers are seeking to position their graduate offerings to match this desire amongst students to work with an employer which is the right fit for them Perks and benefits and starting salaries were significantly behind these three factors, as were other factors such as location and job security.
The gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey is now in its 13th year and reveals that the average starting salary for graduates has now broken through the €30,000 barrier, standing at €30,409, with 81% of employers seeking to either maintain or increase their levels of graduate recruitment. It’d definitely be a good time to be a graduate, but it’s worth remembering that many employers now view their graduate programmes as the start of a pipeline for developing their future leaders.
Graduates have more choice than ever before. Having said that, employers are now becoming increasingly more demanding, which is reflected in the rigorous selection processes which are now the norm for many graduate positions.
Ruairí Kavanagh is an editor with gradireland.
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