Autumn is upon us and the large graduate recruitment fairs are in full-swing, signalling that the latest cycle in graduate recruitment has started! If you are new to the recruitment process used by graduate employers to recruit their interns, graduate recruits and industrial placements, what can you expect?
The Autumn term is the peak time for graduate employers to post (and close) their vacancies. Each year graduate recruiters are advertising their vacancies earlier with some opening vacancies from July – so if you haven’t started looking already then now is the time to do it. Most of these employers will be touring around UK universities promoting the various schemes that they have to offer- make sure that if you are interested in applying you take this opportunity to meet employers and graduates that are currently on the schemes you are considering. (It will help later in convincing employers that you really want to work for them) Once you have identified those opportunities you are interested in then you are likely to encounter most (if not all) of the stages below before you secure that prized employment contract.
The Application Form
The first stage of recruitment: at this stage employers will be screening to see whether you have the necessary entry requirements, skills and attitude that they want from recruits. Types of questions can vary from company to company: motivation, strengths, competencies, commercial awareness but whatever approach they use make sure you answer the question they have set and not the one you want them to have asked you! Whatever approach they take it is vital that you have done your research (thoroughly) on that company. (Employers complain to us all the time that students don’t do this well enough)
Psychometric tests are commonplace in graduate recruitment but employers and different sectors will favour different types of test: Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Diagrammatic and Spatial Reasoning, Situational Judgement Tests. You may be invited to take a test immediately before or after you submit your application (and be prepared for a re-test if you get to the assessment centre stage). Speed and accuracy are important so the key is to practise these tests before you make your applications and be prepared that some are designed not to be completed in the time allocated: see our blogs on Psychometric testing for more information about how to prepare.
Congratulations, if you get to this stage then you know that your application form has been effective! Just like the application stage, employers favour different types of questions so do your research and anticipate the types of questions you may face but be prepared for all! I. There are unique challenges (and advantages) to telephone and video interviews with no visual cues from the interviewer’s body language. Make sure you are confident with the technology and have a quiet and professional looking room to use.
Assessment Centres vary in style and exercises in different industries and companies. Some can last an afternoon, most at least a day and others can also involve an overnight stay. Remember though at every stage of the process you are being assessed- whether that is how you greet the receptionist on your first morning, to how you complete the group activity, the interview, and how you conduct yourself in any informal networking. Actively engage with other participants, be yourself and achieve a balance in any group assessment- not dominating or being too submissive!
The job offer
If you are successful in all the preceding stages, the next stage is the job offer- this isn’t the time to let your professional guard down! With some students having applied to a number of different companies multiple offers aren’t uncommon so make sure that you have thoroughly considered your options and kept employers up to date when you are managing those offers.
It’s Summer Term and no offer??
I’ve just described one way of getting a graduate opportunity but this isn’t the only way. Small employers, unfilled vacancies, networking, volunteering all offer routes into graduate jobs and can be advertised throughout the year.
Throughout all of this, and regardless of the organisation you are applying to, research and preparation is crucial. Completing five well researched, carefully crafted applications to employers that you are genuinely passionate about working for will be more effective than a scatter-gun approach to 100 employers. We have a wealth of blogs that go into far more detail on each of these stages so it is well worth reading these to help you prepare for each of these stages and increase your chances of success.