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Selecting graduates and apprentices this year?

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Selecting graduates and apprentices this year?

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Here are our thoughts on how to get ahead in the race for the best.

With youth unemployment at an all time high, our clients are naturally being deluged with candidates who, on paper, appear suitable for employment.  So how do you avoid making selection a lottery? Is stipulating tertiary examination grades the answer?

The most reliable selection method for most types of recruitment is to use assessment centres which are often preceded by an online psychometric assessment. This allows our consultants to design feedback interviews that can be combined with role-play as well as individual and group exercises from which our assessors can score against your organisation’s competencies.  At the end of the centre we can use standardised scoring processes to rank candidates in order of performance so that high potential is identified.

Whilst assessment centres can be quite expensive if you are recruiting for low volumes, they are ‘the gold standard’ in employee selection at this, and indeed at every, level with proven, high predictive validity.

The alternative approach is to use online assessment.  We were recently approached by a new client who was concerned that one of their new graduate recruits was underperforming and showing very limited cognitive ability.  We tested the candidate using personality and ability tests online and immediately discovered that he scored poorly against his peers.  Our ability to benchmark candidates is a powerful tool which ultimately helped inform the client as to the employee’s potential.  Now they would be reluctant to hire without testing.  The cost of online assessment is less than assessment centres; however it is not quite as reliable as many competencies, such as problem solving using ‘in tray’ exercises or measuring a candidate’s interaction with others, are still best done face-to-face.

Whilst stipulating tertiary academic examination grades can be useful, we find that, unless they are at post graduate level, academic exams rarely effectively assess critical thinking in a work environment.  In any event academic qualifications fail to assess ‘soft’ people skills.  One major, recent study carried out in the US suggested there is no correlation between academic qualifications and future job success. This may be for a number of reasons but it is borne out by our use of ability tests and personality assessment in selection which often highlight mismatches between tertiary exam grades and actual performance in work related ability tests. Furthermore, for apprentices we normally also recommend the assessment of craft related skills such as mechanical comprehension or following instructions.  Such critical skills rarely form part of any formal school study.

If you would like to discuss your own organisation’s plans for this year’s output from universities, colleges and schools, then please do contact our team. Now is the time to start planning for the summer period of assessments.