Selecting graduates the best-practice way

In an increasingly competitive and skills-scarce talent landscape, IO Practitioners who oversee selection and recruitment processes have their work cut out for them. Not only are institutions of higher learning struggling to keep up with the demand for novel and technologically agile qualifications, but competition among the large players in any industry for the very best graduates is on the rise.

In such a climate, how can IO Practitioners ensure that the organisations they serve have a seat at the talent table? Here at TTS, we have devised best-practice, rigorous solutions for our clients who want to select graduates that will future-proof their organisations. Before detailing this solution, it will be helpful to understand the exact nature organisations face when recruiting and selecting graduates.

The graduate challenge

From our experience of helping clients from a variety of industries select talented graduates, we have learnt that the graduate assessment landscape is different from other, perhaps more routine assessment tasks. It is therefore quite important to have a clear grasp of how graduate selection differs from other types of selection projects.

Selecting graduates, especially Millennial candidates, poses several unique challenges:

  • Project timeframes tend to be short with tight turnaround requirements due to large applicant volumes.
  • Screening can be labour intensive
  • Maintaining candidate interest and engagement can be difficult, especially if they are naïve to pre-employment testing
  • Geographic boundaries should not influence the organisation’s capacity to recruit the best candidates
  • Given the high level of competition for graduates, having multiple, creative and diverse assessment modes become important
  • Since large volumes of candidates are likely to be assessed, integrated and flexible reporting that allows IO Practitioners and managers to make informed talent decisions is a necessity

Objectives for graduate selection

Apart from understanding the unique graduate landscape, having clear objectives and goals in undertaking graduate assessments helps to avoid complications later on.

Given high initial volumes, it makes sense to first take a “screen-out” approach to assessments. In other words, the first objective of graduate selection should be to eliminate candidates who do not fit the minimum requirements for the role and who fail to show key abilities, behaviours or attitudes necessary for success in the particular roles the organisation wants them to fulfil.

Here it makes sense to prefer lower cost, high-prediction tools that will deliver maximum utility. Examples include selected ability tests, SJTs, work samples, or self-screening tools such as Realistic Job Previews.

Once candidates have been screened out, the next objective is to “select-in” the right talent for the organisation’s goals. Since the potential pool of candidates would by this phase have been substantially reduced, it becomes viable to use more extensive test batteries and more time-consuming procedures such as behavioural measures and interviewing. Now the focus shifts from eliminating candidates who are poor fits to selecting those who will best fit the specific requirements of the role as well as the culture of the organisation.

Selecting Millennials: A case study

To illustrate some of the principles above, we’ll discuss a recent example where we helped one of our clients to design a graduate selection process.

Our client, who is in the financial services industry, wanted to attract and select graduates for a variety of entry-level roles. Given the geographic spread of the client’s organisation, together with the high level of competition for graduate talent in the industry, they wanted to implement a selection process that was distinctive, engaging and highly effective.

Phase 1: Screening-out assessments

Our client anticipated large volumes of applications in the initial phase of the process, so we prioritised methods that could be delivered quickly, online, and offered maximum value-for-money. Based on these criteria, Realistic Job Previews were chosen as a self-screening, select-out device.

In addition, we wanted to honour the client’s need to deliver a distinctive candidate experience along with high fidelity of measurement, and so included mobile and gamified assessments in the design, using cut-e’s (an Aon company) smartPredict and Scales ability assessments for this phase.

An additional option for screening-out assessments (although not used in the current example) could have been custom SJTs, either delivered via the TTS platform or using cut-e’s chatAssess assessment, which mimics social / instant chat messaging technologies.

Phase 2: Select-in assessments

The next hurdle the remaining candidates would cross was the select-in phase of assessments. Here the focus shifts to a more nuanced and detailed view of the match between candidate and role. In addition, clients often want to see how prospective hires may fit in with their indigenous competency frameworks, culture and value systems.

In the present example, we selected the cut-e shapes competency measure, which excels at examining competency-based work behaviour. Using propriety algorithms as well as analyses conducted with the client prior to the assessment process, we could also derive custom competencies, based on the client’s unique landscape and value drivers, from these results.

These assessments are also delivered online, and candidates may elect to complete them using their smartphones or mobile devices.

Phase 3: Video interviews

To further streamline and enhance the selection process, a third selection hurdle was added. In this phase, it was important for our client to combine an engaging, technologically sophisticated approach with more traditional methods such as interviewing. To achieve this goal, we selected cut-e’s vidAssess tool as a possible solution. This tool allows candidates to record responses to interview questions using their smartphones. An added option is to also include information (text or video) that introduces candidates to the organisation.

vidAssess allows for standardisation of questions and scoring and one if its prime benefits is flexibility in terms of where and when candidates can complete their interviews. Because questions are delivered via the interface, it also is far less time consuming for the client: interviewers can access the video answers and score them in a time and place convenient to them.

Concluding thoughts

Selecting the best graduates is of strategic importance for most organisations: to remain competitive and ensure future-proof talent pipelines, it is imperative on IO Professionals to use best practices and enabling technology to deliver value.

We hope the above case study stimulated thought on the topic. If you’re interested to take your graduate selection to the next level, or if you wonder how to engage Millennials entering the job market, why not drop us a line at