A recruiter’s view point helps with application forms…….

If you try to see the graduate recruitment process – and your own part in it – from the employer’s point of view, it will help to clarify what you need to show in your application. Understanding what the recruiter is looking for will help you to get the graduate scheme place, internship or job you want.

The recruiter wants to take on the best and brightest graduates, both to meet current staffing needs and to develop the company’s future leaders. However, even if you’re right for the job in every way, your prospective employer doesn’t know it yet. You have to succeed at each stage of the recruitment process in order to get your chance to show what you’re really capable of.

Recruiters have checklists, so help them tick them off

Whether they’re going through applications, interviewing, or observing at an assessment centre, graduate recruiters will be looking for a specific checklist of qualifications and skills. You know what it is, because it will be set out in the job description, and you will also be able to use the company website and literature to find out more about what they want. Make it easy for them to work down that checklist and put a big tick next to every point. Be clear about how you meet each requirement.

All employers want the best… but they have to sift to find it

The recruiter may have numerous other applications to filter out before coming to the conclusion that you’re the one to go for. How many graduate applications do employers in different sectors expect to receive for each vacancy? Here are the figures, according to the most recent edition of the biannual membership survey carried out by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

From a job-hunter’s point of view? These are intimidating odds. From a recruiter’s? Hard work.

  • AGR average applications per vacancy 2011-2012 recruitment cycle: 73.2
  • Retail: 153.8, up from 71.2 in 2012-11
  • Investment banks or fund managers: 141.8, down from 232.5 in 2010-11
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) 134.1
  • Insurance company 98.9
  • Energy, water or utility company 94.8
  • Transport or logistics 84.6
  • Banking or financial services 78.6
  • IT/telecommunications company 76.3
  • Accountancy or professional services firm 55.1
  • Engineering or industrial company 50.8
  • Construction company or consultancy 50.3
  • Consulting or business services firm 44.5
  • Law firm 44.5
  • Public sector 43.7

Bear in mind these stats are likely to be on the high side, because AGR members tend to be large graduate employers that attract a high volume of applications. Also, these are average figures, and mask variations between employers, so can be misleading.

Don’t overlook the small and medium sized enterprises who are also on the lookout for graduate talent; they may offer great opportunities for early responsibility.

Give your application the best possible chance of getting through

If you were a recruiter, how would you work through all those applications to find the best candidate? Chances are you would:

  • Be disinclined to tolerate spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and any other signs of sloppiness.
  • Weed out applications that don’t follow instructions.
  • Stick to your checklist, looking for applications that are a good clear match for the criteria you’ve set out, and rejecting any that aren’t. Are the candidate’s skills and experience described in a way that shows he or she has the right qualifications and aptitudes? If not – why not? Courtesy of Target Jobs.

Don’t forget you can get help with your applications by checking  out our Careers webpages on this subject and when you have a draft application ready, pop in to see a Careers Advisor for advice.

How To Get The Job When You Know You’re Under-qualified

An interesting article written by a former head hunter, I can see parallels here on how  to prepare for a graduate interview:

If you don’t have the exact skills or experience that an employer is looking for, you still may have a chance if you do adequate research.

Andrea Sobel,  a headhunter for more than twenty years who’s now a hiring manager at Parsons Corp., said that since you only have a limited amount of time to impress the interviewer, you need to market yourself strategically.

The key to this is doing your homework.

“You’re not completely ruled out if you don’t have what they’re looking for, but come in prepared with a strategy,” she says. “Don’t just sit there, and act like ‘Oh, I’ve never worked with that, so I’m not going to talk about it.’ ”

It’s acceptable to admit that you don’t have exactly what the interviewer is looking for, but it’s also vital to make the connection between what experience and skills you do have to what the company needs.

Sobel detailed that, if you can make the connection sufficiently, the manager might be persuaded to thinking they can train you on the rest of the skills needed since you already have experience that’s similar.

The bottom line is that you need to appeal to the person interviewing you, and if your experience falls short, you need to show that you’ve come close enough. Whether you can adequately make that argument or not, you’ll still get credit for doing research ahead of time, and the interviewer notices that.

And don’t waste your time discussing irrelevant skills or experiences, which Sobel says happens often and that she’s had several experiences of wasting valuable time trying to get interviewees back on track when they “go on these tangents.”

“You want to make sure you’re talking about the topics that they want to hear. If you have five skills in your current job, but the company that you’re interviewing for is only focusing on three of those skills, don’t waste too much of your time discussing the other two.”

“It’s being conscious of what the company wants, what you bring to the table and making sure you don’t waste too much time talking about what they don’t care to hear about.

Courtesy of Business Insider.

Don’t for get that you can book a mock interview with a Careers Advisor to help with your interview preparation. We generally need 3 days notice and at time of booking need to receive the Job Description and Personal Specification for the advertised role, along with your CV/Application Form as this helps with question preparation.

Top Tips for Panel Interviews…

For many of us, hearing that we are facing a panel interview can immediately fill us with fear, dread and trepidation. For some reason, facing a group of people is so much more daunting than facing one interviewer on their own. However, like all interviews, with the right preparation and mindset, there should be absolutely no reason why this need be the case. To help alleviate those fears and improve your performance, we have put together our Top Tips for Panel Interviews.

Prepare In Advance
As soon as you are notified that you will be interviewed by a panel, try and establish who they are. Ask the HR Manager, the recruiter if they can advise you who will be on the panel. In most organisations, the panel will consist of at least 3 people, generally including a HR Representative, a Line Manager and perhaps even a potential team colleague. It can be worthwhile researching who the interviewers are in advance simply by using google, the company website, industry publications or even Linkedin or other social media sites. Getting some background knowledge in advance about the people you are meeting will actually help to boost your confidence  and minimise the “fear of the unknown” element of the interview.

First Impressions Count
As soon as you walk through the door, like it or not, all eyes will be upon you. And each member of the panel will be immediately making up their initial first impressions of you. In order to make sure it is a positive one, you should ensure that you enter the room confidently, that you make eye contact and shake hands firmly with each of the panelists and that you remember standard interview etiquette, waiting until you are advised to sit down etc. Your aim is to establish and build a rapport with each of the interviewers.

Eye Contact and Body Language
The format of panel interviews can vary. Some will have a lead interviewer who asks most of the questions, some will give each panelist an equal number of questions whilst others will have questioning panelists and others who are simply there in an observational capacity.
No matter what the format, the fact is you should always make eye contact with each of the interviewers, whether they ask you a question or not. Obviously most of your focus should be on the person who asked the question, but the other panelists should be included too, even just with a few glances. Likewise, be mindful of your body language. Do not turn away in the direction of the person questioning you at that point. Even if there are panelists who remain silent, make sure you have not subconsciously angled yourself away from them.

Ignore the Distractions
It is commonplace in a Panel Interview for at least one of the panelists to be a note taker. In fact at times, several of them may do this. Don’t let yourself get distracted by someone scribbling notes and saying nothing. Likewise do not be alarmed if an interviewer breaks eye contact with you in order to write down some notes. This is common practice and you should not let it unnerve you.

The Interview Itself
Although there are more people present, the actual interview itself and the questions you are asked and how you answer them is no different to a normal one on one interview. Your interview preparation should therefore be exactly the same. Check out some of our our previous posts on interview tips, here and here.

The End
When the interview has come to a close, much as you may want to get out of that room as quickly as possible, it is important to again remember your manners. Politely thank and shake hands with each one of the interviewers. If you know and can remember their names, then of course you should use them.

Overall, the only real difference with a panel interview is that you have a few more people to impress. You need to prove you are the right candidate for the job in exactly the same way, no matter how many people are at the other side of that table!

Courtesy of  ‘The Employable’.

Remember, if you have any other tips for panel interviews, that you feel should be shared, then please let us know via the Comments section below.