How to Design the Selection Process for a Graduate Program

Finding a candidate for a job isn’t as cut out as it may initially seem. You don’t just look up and down the list of candidates and say, “Okay, this person will do just fine.” Instead, you have to go through numerous organized steps to get to the final stage of the employee selection process.

When we address graduate programs, it is important to note that they are the mainstay of developing future leaders for the company. A good selection process is key in finding talent and it forms the backbone for effective performance management. We decided to dwell further into the topic and provide a quick step-by-step guide to follow for your recruitment and selection process so you can get that new star candidate on your team. 

Here are six steps in the selection process for hiring employees when selecting a graduate program and how to best go through each:

1. Brand your program

A candidate applying for your graduate program is definitely applying for other programs as well. This is why it becomes important to help them self-select and understand why your program is good for them. Here are some ways to achieve that:

  • Brand your company as a top employer- Sure, employer branding is not something that happens overnight. You might find it challenging to create an iconic business brand that outshines your competitors, but it is nonetheless important for various reasons. It can be the key to reducing recruitment costs, widening your talent pool, and retaining top talent.
  • Describe the career prospects in your industry and company- Converting leads into candidates by sending them regular email newsletters and content about your company’s new achievements, application processes, vibrant culture. Give them the opportunity to connect with your employees via email, social, or live chat.
  • Share what is needed to succeed in the program, talk about growth parts, and highlight the culture of your company 

2. Make information capture easy

  • Make it easy for candidates to apply for the program. Granted that there’s a lot of information needed, but a long tedious form will only drive candidates out of the process. And no process works if it is too difficult to follow. Make sure your application form is super helpful. If it’s not possible with your ATS, implement processes that can make your process more user-friendly and can sync in with your ATS. Remember that candidates are assessing your company as much as you are assessing them. At impress.ai, we use conversational technology to collect information without making it difficult. It also synchronizes it back to your ATS.

3. Assess accurately and progress fast

Once you’ve screened candidates, you want to look at the surviving candidates and further assess their ability to do the job you’re looking to fill. Assessments form an important part of a strong selection process. The most commonly used tests for graduate programs are personality and cognitive tests. Personality questionnaires assess different personality traits, such as motivation, working style, while Cognitive tests check your reasoning, numeracy, and literacy skills. This is done because most candidates don’t come with relevant experience and knowledge so it isn’t very useful to assess. While conducting these assessments it is also important to explain to candidates why these tests are important, Make sure that they are easy to complete on the mobile and allow for candidates to progress accordingly if they meet particular criteria.

4. Be prepared for the interview

Unstructured interviews make them inaccurate and inefficient. A good interview will help you make better hiring decisions, as you will objectively evaluate and compare candidates’ potential. But there’s a lot more to that- you need to prepare yourself and the entire hiring team to make sure you ask all the right questions. More specifically, you should:

  • Make sure you have a list of questions prepared and are aware of the competencies that you’re looking for.
  • Use behavioral interview techniques and STAR framework
  • Evaluate alignment to company values, also through behavioral or situational judgment questions.

5. Run an effective assessment center

A business cannot succeed without people. It needs the right people who are the right fit for the organization. For the same reason, there is a need to invest in the recruitment process. A business needs an assessment center that is run properly and effectively to select the best candidates for the job. An assessment center refers to the process in which a group of people who are being considered for a position or a job is given a series of tests or interviews. For this, it is essential that you evaluate the candidate for certain key skills and abilities. Some of these are problem-solving skills, the ability to work with others in the team, perform under pressure, and quality of work. 

The two common ways to evaluate candidates include:

  1. Case studies: You’re likely to come across a case study exercise at an assessment center. These can be undertaken in groups but, if the event is virtual, an individual version is more likely. Qualities like initiative, leadership qualities, and analytical and problem-solving abilities are tracked via these exercises.
  2. Group discussions: This is a classic assessment center exercise. If your assessment center is virtual as a result of the pandemic, you may still undertake a group exercise through the platform used. However, recruiters might decide to assess similar skills in another way – such as through questions at interviews. Through these discussions, employers look for qualities such as teamwork, problem-solving ability, and a logical, analytical approach to the task. 

6. Maximize conversion with pre-boarding

The pre-boarding process refers to the process of orienting the candidates with the company culture and the people during the time between acceptance of the offer and actual joining.  This comes in handy because even though the candidate has accepted the offer with the company, they are not guaranteed to join. Many candidates are accepted to multiple programs. A good pre-boarding will improve the conversion. Some ideas for the same include:

  1. Announcing your new hire to your existing staff and introducing your new hire to the team with a friendly email or even an invite to a lunch or a team meeting
  2. Have a regular check-in with candidates who have accepted the offer.
  3. Company culture videos are also a trending topic for a great pre-boarding plan. 

For more information on how to design a good selection process for a graduate program, click here to watch a video with our CEO, Sudhanshu Ahuja, give you insights on the same.

How to digitise your graduate recruitment program?

Graduate recruitment is a crucial part of a firm’s hiring strategy. As employees move to higher positions or leave, several roles become vacant. Organisations prefer to fill these roles with young graduates for several reasons.

Why is graduate recruitment important for organisations?

Young blood helps organisations stay relevant and connect better with the new-age customers. Fresh graduates inject vigour and new ideas into their system. Moreover, this young workforce is enthusiastic and ambitious. They are eager to start their careers, participate and contribute. 

Graduates are adaptable. Organisations can mould them as per their culture and requirements. They are savvy and have spent a long time learning the latest technology and skills. As they blend into the existing workforce, they can pass their knowledge to others.

Organisations are perennially seeking leaders. With a long term view, organisations can groom promising graduates and prepare them for future roles. Graduates who get the right opportunities tend to stick with their first organisations. 

Lastly, filling the vacant roles with fresh graduates is a cost-efficient hiring strategy.

How do organisations hire graduates?

Most firms have an elaborate graduate recruitment program. It comprises of campus visits and exhibitions at career fairs. These visits are followed by the selection process, which generally includes case studies, group discussions and interviews. 

Graduate recruitment plans also entail campus branding strategies. Large organisations normally have a separate team to manage campus recruitment. This team engages promising students through a host of activities during the academic year. Campus talks, competitions and internship placements to engage the students.

The new age workforce is a demanding segment when it comes to choosing their employers. They have strong opinions about the way they view their career. They want to associate with organisations that have a similar vision and mission.

To click with these young minds, companies have a separate onboarding program for the graduates. It often includes outbound and inbound activities. Meetings with business heads, buddy programs and a comprehensive training plan are some of the initiatives of graduate onboarding.

How has the COVID-19 impacted graduate recruitment?

The current pandemic of coronavirus has brought the world to a grinding halt. With restrictions on mass gatherings and movements, there seems no end in sight. At least, until a cure is made available to the masses.

With the financial disruption caused due to the current pandemic, one may expect graduate recruitment to slow down. However, an analogy with the 2008 recession reveals that it may not be the case. Sectors like retail, supply chains, IT, and healthcare will still want to hire young employees. 

Moreover, most companies are putting out statements that they do not view any imminent changes in their graduate recruitment numbers.


In this scenario, graduate recruitment in its traditional form, will not suffice. It is also not known if classes will resume on the campuses. Even if they do, there are fewer possibilities for companies visiting colleges.

Given the situation, adapting to a digitalised hiring process is the need of the hour.

What are the best practices for digitising graduate recruitment?

In the wake of COVID-19, employers have been agile and swift in their response. With almost all functions working from home, we are witnessing a significant transformation in the working style. 

Most organisations have already moved to digital recruitment and selection processes. However, graduate recruitment requires a specific focus on certain areas. Here is how to go about it.

Virtual Screening and shortlisting


Meeting the students in person makes it easier for visiting managers to make the hiring decision. Group discussions are also a crucial part of the campus hiring programs. It allows the managers to assess candidates on skills like communication, leadership, conflict management and negotiation. Moreover, case studies help in understanding their technical expertise and problem resolution capabilities.

In the current scenario, HR teams can use tools like recruitment chatbots to screen and shortlist the candidates. Impress is one such AI-powered tool that comes with several features. Let’s look at them in detail.

  1. Impress allows the recruiters to set their selection criteria. Moreover, they can give weightage to different aspects such as GPA, industry projects and various other aspects. The chatbot can evaluate the students based on their answers and filter the qualified candidates.

  2. The recruiters get an option to move the candidates to the next evaluation stage if they meet the qualification criteria.

  3. Impress can connect with third-party tools for behavioural and sentimental assessments.
  4. Impress can also connect with third-party automated video assessment tools. These video assessment platforms allow the recruiters to feed the interview questions. Some of them also evaluate the candidates on their body language and communication skills. 

  5. Lastly but most importantly, graduates often hesitate in asking direct questions related to salary, roles, culture etc. Impress chatbot can resolve this problem by answering such sensitive questions. Candidates will be more comfortable to direct these queries to a chatbot rather than a recruiter.

Virtual interviews

The shortlisting process can be followed by video discussions. However, it may help to take an empathetic approach while evaluating the graduates. A video interview is a new practice, and the pressure of fewer jobs may make them nervous. Organisations can send communication regarding video interview etiquettes to alleviate their fears. The recruiters can set the tone of the interview by addressing their worries at the start of the interview. Such little things can go a long way in enhancing the candidate experience.

Onboarding

As the graduates will be joining the virtual workforce, HR teams will have to change their induction programs. Full-day classroom training will become a thing of the past. So will a multi-week induction program.

However, the HR teams will still have to ensure that the new joiners get an elevated experience. One way is to provide free access to all information and policies. Secondly, buddy programs will allow the graduates to observe the culture and workplace practices more closely. Lastly, virtual tours of the office spaces can create a sense of attachment. Gamification of the induction process is also an idea worth exploring. 

Making them a part of the daily meetings and regular check-ins can help them come up to speed. Cross-functional webinars will help them understand the organisational structure and interdependencies.

Connecting the employees on an internal social platform will allow them to ask questions. The new joiners can discuss their problem statements with the more experienced colleagues.

The candidates will have a myriad of questions regarding their joining dates and confirmation of jobs. Constant communication will engage the candidates and send a message that they are being taken care of.

Employer Branding

With a limitation on campus visits, organisations will find it hard to create a buzz amongst the students. Here is how HR teams can attract students through a virtual strategy. 

  1. Large scale virtual contests can engage students and expose them to the corporate world through real-time case studies.
  2. Video footage of the existing employees about their experience can leave a lasting impression on young minds.
  3. There will be a surge of video interview practise tools. If the organisation has such capabilities, they can offer such platforms or products to help the students.
  4. Organisations can offer their internal library and knowledge resources to enhance students’ learning.
  5. Companies can team up to organise virtual career fairs to attract the students and inform them about their roles.
  6. In a normal situation, candidates get to meet the recruiters who can address their queries. Impress platform that can manage these aspects in the current scenario. Recruiters can enable the platform to take questions about culture, growth prospects and career trajectories. 

Imparting skills

Onboarding is generally the time when new joiners learn and pick up skills from their colleagues. Due to the physical distance between employees, it will become tougher to bring the new joiners up to speed.

To accelerate this process, organisations can partner with virtual academies. They can offer courses relevant to their roles and positions. Apart from this, several Ivy League colleges are offering free courses at this time. The HR teams can work together with the hiring managers to identify the right courses for this segment. 

Conclusion

Graduate recruitment in 2020 is going to witness a significant transformation. It will be challenging for organisations to attract the youngest entrants of the workforce. 

However, digitising graduate recruitment can be a way for organisations to ensure that their graduate programs are not on lockdown in 2020.