The face of graduate recruitment is changing, says Jo Lozinska, Employability manager, De Broc School of Business. New methods and techniques are being used to minimise costs and maximise positive and fair outcomes for graduates from all backgrounds and types of universities.
Gaming’s the virtual new world in graduate recruitment
In the last year or so, the top four graduate recruiter firms have made significant changes to their academic entry requirements, giving hope to students whose applications may have fallen short at the initial screening process. Leading companies are considering dropping traditional methods of screening, such as looking at A-level results, in favour of other methods which can widen access to the professions while saving employers time and money. For example, organisations including Deloitte, the NHS, HSBC, the BBC and the Civil Service are set to introduce name-blind applications in a bid to stop stereotyping and discrimination.
What’s helping to stimulate this change in recruitment practices? Technology.
A recent Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) survey of its members revealed that 42% had used video interviews, up from 6% four years ago.
There are two main types of on-screen interview – live and recorded. Many companies use a live connection between interviewee and recruiter which is like being interviewed in person, but with limited visual feedback. FaceTime and Skype are the most common.
If it’s a recorded event, candidates may have to cope with an on-screen timer indicating how long they have left, with no going back to review answers. Applicants may be invited to highlight specific skills or tell the company about themselves. Interviews of this kind lend themselves to roles in sales, media or marketing. Employers can also assess how graduates would interact with international colleagues or clients, for example.
Video specialist companies such as Sonru, SparkHire, LaunchPad and InterviewStream are used by employers to provide this kind of automated on-screen interview package, ensuring that all candidates get the same experience. Organisations say that conducting initial interviews this way saves them time and money and enables them to see more applicants. Candidates themselves benefit because they can do this at their own convenience without having to travel or take time off from an existing job.
A recent Financial Times article highlighted the arrival of robot interviewers, who can carry out assessments free from bias and prejudice without getting tired, bored or mixed up. Surprisingly, trial interviewees found the standardised process refreshing, even describing the robot they sat in front of as ‘cute’.
Another similar development is that of the interview avatar, who can pose set questions and get through as many candidates as required without becoming tired, hungry or distracted.
Another relatively recent development in the recruitment world is gamification, where game mechanics and design are applied to the hiring process, with the added benefit of companies being able to show that they foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
Deloitte uses a mobile phone game Called Firefly Freedom, in which players must catch fireflies to provide light for their family during the winter in a fictional forested world. It’s designed to test risk appetite, mental agility and persistence. Simpler tests measure how quickly candidates can tap the screen, and whether they can remember a sequence of colours.
Unilever, which receives more than 250,000 graduate applications every year, is launching a new digital process which will mix gaming with video interviews to find the best and brightest graduates. The new programme uses digital analysis, removing the potential for unconscious bias in the recruitment process. As part of the process candidates play a series of games, taking no more than 20 minutes. The way in which candidates play these games will allow Unilever to get an insight into the candidate’s potential and how well they might fit in with the company’s goals and purpose. The very best candidates will then take part in a video interview for which they record their answers at a time and place which is convenient for them. Finally, candidates are invited to a Discovery Centre, where they get to know each other and collaborate virtually. They will then attend a day-long face-to-face event, giving them an immersive experience of a ‘day in the life’ at Unilever. Here, more traditional recruitment techniques are blended with newer ones.
Bank BNP Paribas have run two online games for potential new recruits. One was a coding-related exercise specifically for technology graduates, and the other an adventure game where players encountered virtual bankers and clients online who guided them through finance-related challenges.KPMG offer students the “80 Days” game, in which players compete to circumnavigate the world in a virtual hot air balloon in the quickest time, while tackling 10 challenges along the way. Google uses a software-writing competition and GCHQ candidates have to literally crack a code and decipher the hidden message.
Gaming makes the recruitment process more equitable, enabling candidates to perform to their full potential irrespective of their starting point. Such tests can be done online, at a distance, and on thousands of people, at practically zero cost. Importantly, they can also help employers attract and engage students in a market where there’s considerable competition for the best talent. It could help traditional graduate recruiters take on technology companies, startups, and entrepreneurship, all of which are becoming increasingly visible and viable alternatives for graduates.
Just like other areas of business and industry, recruitment practices are moving with the times and embracing new technology for the benefit of all.
BIS research paper no. 231 :Understanding Employers’ Graduate Recruitment and Selection practices