What should a graduate employer do for the best?

Should an employer who is offering a graduate role offer an assessment day or should they just go straight to a direct interview process? We are going to look at both options and explain what each evolves to help employers decide what is best for them.

Graduate Assessment Days

What is an assessment day?

An assessment centre (or assessment day) usually involves a series of tasks and activities. Designed to test graduates’ suitability for a role. Generally held in person, at the employer’s offices, a central location or online via video conferencing platforms. It is important to remember that graduates are being assessed against the employer’s criteria, not against each other.

The length and structure of the assessment centres vary from employer-to-employer. Some consist of a morning or afternoon of activities. Whereas others last a full day or even longer in rare cases.

The day begins with a welcome talk, followed by a tour/video before the assessments begin. Usually there will be one or two assessments during the morning. Break for lunch, allowing socialisation or networking online with other candidates and maybe some employees. After a lunch there is more assessment tasks. Followed by interviews then final evaluations before the end of the day. 

Large recruitment firms usually run assessment centres for graduate trainee positions. Assessment centres give opportunity to evaluate a pool of candidates against a set of criteria. Allowing the assessors to see how candidates react to situations they may come across in the role. As well as how they interact with those around them. 

It is very important that any assessments or tasks are kept relevant to the role that graduates are applying for. It is also important to advise of the matrix setting out the timelines for grading and when candidates can expect feedback on their performance.

Typical activities on the day

Group activity – put graduates into groups to work on a project. This could be a case study, discussion exercises and ice breaker or team task

Case Study – Putting graduates in a work-related scenario. Graduates will be required to process and analyse information. Additionally, communicate their findings or present recommendations either in writing or verbally.

E-Tray or in tray exercise – A real world scenario in which judge graduates on their ability to prioritise several tasks. This is based on factors such as importance and urgency.

Interview – Graduates will be asked a series of questions by one, or a panel, of company representatives. Employers use a range of different question ‘types’. Drawing out a graduate’s experience, skills, knowledge. Along with personal attributes, as well as gauge enthusiasm and motivation for the role.

Presentations – Graduates maybe asked to prepare and deliver a group or individual presentation. This might be on a topic or an individual presentation. Graduates might be sent details in advance to ensure they can prepare the presentation ahead, in order to deliver it on the day.

Psychometric tests – Typically done online, under exam conditions, and consist of questions designed to identify skills, knowledge, and personality.

Written Exercise – Graduates may need to process and analyse information relevant to the role before communicating findings and recommendations in writing.

Straight to Interview?

Maybe assessment days do not fit within the requirements and you need to go straight to interviews. Before interviewing you need to find the candidates. First thing to sort is writing the job description and arranging advertising for the role. You can advertise the role for free on sites run by the government like findajob. Additionally, at The Graduate Recruitment we can help with this.

Let us assume you have advertised and now CVs are landing in your inbox. The focus turns to the interviewing process. Its beneficial for hiring managers to make a good first impressions with graduates. Make the candidate feel at ease throughout the process by preparing how to start ahead of time. This can help avoid any mistakes and ensure the interview runs smoothly.

Before candidate arrival

Finding a suitable room for the interview is important. The team need to be aware of where you are going to be. Ensure there is enough space to accommodate all participants and that the room has the necessary facilities. For instance, if you require the candidates to perform a presentation, ensure there is a screen or projector available for them to showcase their material. Check everything works as it should – nothing like a faulty lead to make you look unprofessional on the day.

When they arrive

Nominate one person from the interview panel to greet the candidates with a smile before the interview. This allows a warm and friendly atmosphere right from the start. Once your candidate is in the room invite them to take a seat and show them where they can find any required equipment. Ask them if they feel comfortable to continue. Ensure all introductions are made at the beginning so the candidate know who they can expect to work with and show that the company operates a positive culture. You can then run through the interview format so the candidate is aware of what to expect. Additionally, ensure its made clear when they are likely to hear about any decision.

Throughout the interview talk about the role. Why it is available and what the role entails on a daily basis. Move on to asking the candidate about their experiences and what brought them to applying for the role on offer.

This leads to questions being asked about the role and the candidate, so both parties get to know more about each other. Additionally, it gives a bigger picture of personality and abilities to fit within the team.

At the end of the interview address timelines. When they can expect to hear back with feedback along with decisions. It is important to feed back to candidates even if they are not right for the position. This helps them grow and develop their interviewing skills ready for their next step.

Need help during your recruitment process? Contact us and our experts can happily advise.