Author: Veronica Yao (page 1 of 4)

Interviewing Students? Here’s How To Get Past Their “Perfect” Answers

In an ideal world, the hiring process would be viewed as a meeting between two professionals who are looking to create a partnership.

It would be an engagement where both individuals viewed each other as an equal. It would be a chance to assess each other to see if this long-term agreement would be beneficial for both parties.

However, to a student or grad looking to start gaining experience in their field, the playing field is anything but level. An over-saturated job market combined with a lack of experience can shift an aspiring professional’s view to survival mode… a desire to increase their chances by whatever means possible.

At first, this may seem like a plus for the recruiter. After all, you have the upper hand – there are tons of qualified students and grads vying for your attention and eager to please. However, all this can backfire when you realize that you’ve hired the wrong person.

The problem: Inauthentic engagements

Many students and grads are under the impression that they have to fit into a specific mould when presenting themselves to an employer. Why? Because everyone has told them to.

When’s the last time you wrote a job posting that asked for introverted qualities versus extroverted? And every employer seems to be asking for the same thing: top communication skills, assertiveness, and fast-paced people who thrive under pressure.

It makes sense that students feel that they need to fulfill these requirements, even if it’s not who they are. They need a foot-in-the-door, and they believe the best way to do that is to tell an employer they can ride a horse, and then learn how to do it later.

What does this mean for recruiters? It means they will be going through applications that are not a reflection of who the candidate is, but rather, what they think the employer wants them to be. It means spending many hours meeting people who play up qualities that they think you want. And in the end, you end up hiring an individual who is nothing like the person you met during the interview. And a mismatched hire is a waste of time for everyone.

The solution: Refocus your approach

More specifically, show candidates that you want to hire them – not an adjusted version of them. Focus your interactions on getting to know them, without making them feel like there is a cookie-cutter persona you are looking for that they have to fill. Of course, you may have a general idea of what you want your hire to look like, and that’s okay. But you may find that the best individual for the role does not 100% fit what you initially expected.

Job postings

Job postings set the tone for a job-seeker. It conveys the expectations and requirements of the role, and dictates the form the successful candidate must take in order to have a chance to prove themselves in the face-to-face interview. A good job posting also reflects the company culture through the copy and layout.

Be careful not to specify what you require of the candidates outside of the technical skills you need. For example, you can tell them you’re looking for individuals who will thrive in a fast-paced environment. But refrain from telling them that you require people who are outgoing and assertive. This will encourage applicants to assess themselves before applying.

Interviews

Interviews are an employer’s opportunity to meet face-to-face with candidates and see if the personality matches the application. Like the job posting, it’s important to focus on the technical skills rather than the personality traits you want the candidate to have. But you can take your assessment a step further by asking the right questions.

Turn the questions around on a candidate by asking them what they are looking for. For example, instead of asking “What can you do for our company to deliver results?” consider reframing your question to “If you could create any work environment, and control all the elements involved, what scenario would get the best results out of you?” Asking the second question will force your candidate to assess themselves once again, and they are less likely to come up with answers they think you’re looking for.

The benefits

Students will feel valued.

During a long job hunt, many students may start to get discouraged: constantly trying to sell themselves, only to fall short of their ultimate goal. Employers have the opportunity to inject a fresh and engaging element to the hiring process by focusing on the individual candidate on a different level. Asking students and grads who they are and what their interests are will really make a difference, and help you stand out among other organizations.

You will get more honest answers.

This process really helps build rapport with students. The more they feel valued, the more willing they will be to open up. Putting a spin on questions in order to highlight their preferences will often encourage them to share more (as most people love talking about themselves). However, you’ll find that their answers will be much more revealing, so you can determine whether or not they’d be the right fit.

You may find a new persona that fits the role.

Almost every campus recruiter is guilty of going into an event or an interview with a specific persona in mind. It can be easy to sit down in an interview and immediately dismiss the person in front of you because they don’t fit your expectations. By keeping your options open, and encouraging students to show you why their qualities and skills make them a great fit, you may find someone who you never expected to fill the position.

Discussion: As a recruiter, how do you reposition classic interview questions to gain new information about students and grads?

Recruiting On Campus? These 3 Questions Will Quickly Reveal A Student’s Fit With Your Organization

If you have a campus recruitment session coming up, you’re probably bracing yourself for a busy day of shaking hands, presentations, and answering the same questions over and over. But as they say, a hectic day on campus is usually a great sign that students are interested in the roles that your company is hiring for.

That being said, these events leave very little time to actually get to know the students you meet. Let’s face it: after a few hours, faces and names begin to blur, and your attention is likely divided between their answers and the next thing on your to-do list.

You’re not ready to commit to a full interview with these eager applicants, but you should make the most of your brief interactions. These 3 questions can reveal a lot about a student or grad’s fit within your organization.

1. “What do you know about us?”

This is a common question – and for good reason. It’s a great indicator of a potential candidate’s preparedness, and their interest in the company. Most of the time, you will get one of two reactions: a confident, prepared answer, or a vague, broken response.

This is a highly effective tactic when dealing with a high volume of individuals. Inquiring about an applicant’s knowledge of the company is usually done during the face-to-face interview. However, asking this questions during a campus recruitment event is a great way to separate the students you meet into two categories: the ones who are browsing and the ones who are committed to joining your team.

Keep the question open ended, and see which direction the candidate takes their answer. Don’t ask for dry facts about the company – students know that you’re looking for those. Pay attention for the individuals who tie your organization’s mission to their own passions, and bonds with the company on a deeper level.

2. “What are you looking for a company to offer you?”

One important thing to note: you are not asking about what they can do for your company, but rather, what you can do for them.

When students engage with recruiters, most of them will do so with the goal of telling them what they want to hear. Even if they answer your questions with honourable intentions, it can make it difficult to determine whether or not they will fit in with your company.

This question flips the table on the student. You’re putting their needs before your own. “What do you need to advance your career? How can we help you succeed?” This is something that they will not expect – as a result, they are more likely to see your company as an organization that invests and cares about their employees. At the same time, you’ll be able to determine from their answers if they are the right fit for the culture and role that you’re hiring for. It’s a win-win!

3. “What are you passionate about?”

This is another opportunity to put the spotlight on the candidate. Most students and grads will have their core competencies, skills, and educational background rehearsed to a tee. They’re probably tired of rattling off their resume in an attempt to pitch their value to employers. And because they’re in “show mode”, recruiters will find it more difficult to assess their personalities and how they fit in.

The majority of students today associate their identities with some sort of social cause. They have work that they’re passionate about, and excited to share with others. Plus, people naturally jump at the chance to talk about things that they love with other people – giving them the chance will help them ease out of their “interview persona” and settle into their everyday personalities.

Of course, not all students will talk about social causes. Some individuals will bring up their hobbies or activities that they love to do in their spare time. Remember that these are still valuable experiences – and if they have the type of energy and enthusiasm that you’re looking for, then they may be someone you want to bring on board for a face-to-face meeting.

These 3 questions are not meant to be a full assessment of an applicant’s potential. However, it’s a great way to whittle down the volume of applications you receive at a campus event. On top of that, the types of questions you ask can show applicants that your organization is about more than finding top talent – it’s about listening to their needs and supporting them as they advance their careers.

Discussion: What time-saving tactics do you use when you’re working a campus recruitment event?

Community Involvement: How To Attract Top Millennial Talent Beyond The Job Description

When you’re in competition to recruit top student and grad talent, their decision may come down to what you have to offer outside of their day to day job.

Most companies today are involved with community initiatives in some way, shape, or form. However, most recruiters tend to focus on the benefits that are directly linked to the role when promoting their career opportunities to students and grads. It makes sense, because things like salary, benefits, and experience are all things at the top of a student or grad’s checklist.

However, these aspiring professionals are looking for an organization that is more than just a well-known brand. When it comes down to the wire, and your choice candidate is making a selection between two top companies, your company’s community involvement can go from being a small perk to your trump card.

Why they’re looking for more

They’re informed

Students and grads know that looking for the right employer isn’t just about making the highest salary or working with the biggest names. They are looking for a well-rounded package that can offer them a variety of experiences that will benefit them in the long run.

Every recruiter wants their candidates to do research on the company that they’re interviewing for. But it’s equally important that the information that they find will set you apart from the competition, and present your company as a unique and valuable place to work.

They’re passionate about their causes

It’s no secret that with the ever-growing presence of technology, millennials are more connected than ever. From smartphones to tablets, students and grads can access the latest information and create personalized news feeds at the push of a button. As a result, they are constantly forming and expressing their feelings and opinions.

Because of this heightened awareness, the majority of students and grads today have attached themselves to a social cause. They are more active in the community than ever, and they aim to use their qualities and skills to instigate change in the world.

Did you know: 43% of Gen-Yers said that they’ve helped out a non-profit organization to expand their skill-set for their professional careers.

They want to work for a company that reflects their values

Experienced campus recruiters know that workplace culture is one of the most common inquiries students and grads make during an interview. Millennials are all about personalizing – whether they’re tailoring their Pinterest boards or their coffee orders, they want every aspect of their lives to reflect their authenticity.

Selecting their careers and the organizations they work for is no different. Working for a company that doesn’t share their values will lessen the appeal for them.

“The community involvement component is excellent. Many students are attracted to the opportunity to give back to their communities, so the fact that you make it part of their experiences is great.”

    – Master’s student, University of Toronto

“A huge part of student motivation is making them feel like they’re making a difference.”

    – Third-year student, Bishop’s University

“Volunteer work is another great way to involve students in the work world so that they feel valued and excited to be a part of a team that gives back.”

    – Fourth-year student, McMaster University

How to appeal to these qualities

Any employer would want the above qualities in a new hire. The question is: how do you attract these graduates to your organization? Company culture is a huge factor when millennials evaluate their career options. Here are some simple things you can do to make your company stand out.

Ask them what their passions are

During the hiring process, it’s important to pay attention to who the candidate is outside of their professional experiences. If you make an effort to show that you’re not only interested in them for their degree and job experiences, you are more likely to create a stronger rapport with them.

Take a look at their application documents or LinkedIn profile, and get to know what they do in their spare time. Take a look at the causes that they’re involved in, and ask them about it during the interview. You’ll find that students and grads will respond passionately about their work, and appreciate the fact that you took the time to find out.

Showcase your company’s community efforts

Many students and grads will likely be pre-occupied with company information pertaining to the specific role and department that they’ll be applying to. Even though they’re not consciously looking for information about your company’s community efforts, it’s important to make sure they see it and remember it.

Be sure this information is accessible, and prominently shown on your company’s website. Bring these aspects up during a campus recruitment session or an interview when a candidate mentions their past volunteer roles or the causes they support.

Remember: millennials think of their careers as an extension of their identities – not just a way to bring home the bacon. Show them how the role they’ve applied for fits them beyond the job description, and the ones who accept the job will likely do so with a stronger commitment to the company.

Discussion: Do you believe that volunteer and community experience always makes for a better candidate?

6 Things Students Want From Your Company’s Talent Programs

With talent programs on the rise, employers are constantly looking for new ways to make their opportunities stand out to the best and the brightest students and grads.

These aspiring young professionals see talent programs as an opportunity to transition from school to work in a more controlled environment, which makes working with companies that offer them very attractive. However, there are certain elements that make certain talent programs more desirable to millennials over others.

1. A rotational feature

Students and grads know that in this day and age, it’s more valuable to have a wide range of skills, rather than just one or two specialized skills. Most fields demand flexibility from their candidates, so a rotational feature is the perfect setting for them to learn multiple roles within a single business.

Many students and grads say they love taking on different roles within a single business because it allows them to see how the different departments work together to create a fully functioning system. As an employer, offering to cross-train these individuals in different fields attracts them to your program, as well as helps them build an appreciation for your organization.

2. Feedback and recognition

It can be frustrating for a young student or grad to enter the professional working world without knowing if they’re doing a good job. After all, they most likely don’t have a point of reference to base their performances off of.

Feedback doesn’t always have to be given in a performance review. Casual engagements from management can do a lot for millennials. A simple “I like how you did this” or “why don’t you try this approach this time?” will help motivate and provide direction for their work. You will see better performance from your hire when they feel you are just as invested in their development as they are.

3. Mentorship

Consider setting up a mentorship program within your existing talent program if you haven’t already. When entering a new work environment, students and grads can feel hesitant to approach managers or co-workers with their problems if they don’t know who their questions are best suited for.

Something as simple as assigning each individual with an experienced professional at your work help students and grads feel like their questions and comments are welcome. Plus, they are looking for the chance to build connections during this experience, and a workplace mentor is a great place to start. As they build relationships within the company, and learn more about the business, you’ll have an easier time retaining your top talent for permanent positions. After all, millennials are very focused on finding a company where they fit in.

4. Courses and learning opportunities

Since every millennial is different, they have different preferences for how they gain new experiences. Class environments provide familiarity for students and grads making their transition from the school environment they’ve been raised in.

So why not offer a wide variety of learning opportunities to suit as many individuals as possible? Giving students and grads the opportunity to pursue different courses shows you’re willing to invest in their learning experiences. Plus, it’s a chance to create a unique and memorable experience by using new technology and workshop techniques to make it even more engaging. Having a unique selling point like this is sure to attract a wide pool of candidates to your talent programs, allowing you to select from the best of the best – and build them up to be even better!

5. Networking events

Students and grads don’t just wants workplace experience. They want to meet the best of the best in their field. Hosting networking events is a great way to have your talent come together in a more social environment.

Even something as simple as having your company’s management team meet the students and grads means a lot to an aspiring professional. Millennials who have had the opportunity to meet executives and top management from their organizations say that they felt the company really cared about their success within the program. This small gesture from a large company, which takes little effort and time to organize, can go a long way when it comes to putting your company in a positive light for your hires.

6. Community involvement

The millennial generation is all about making positive change. Their passions for social change and activism is reflected through their activity on social media and kickstarter programs, as well as their high involvement in community organizations.

Many students and grads say that workplace culture is highly important to them, and that they want the company they work for to reflect their values. Having company events to give back to the community not only creates a great social event for your talent, but also provides a solid selling point when they’re deciding whether or not to join your program. Plus, it’s great publicity for your company in general, so everyone wins!

Discussion: What is the most effective way to retain students and grads in your talent program?

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