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At a glance guide to selection methods used by graduate recruiters

At a glance guide to selection methods used by graduate recruiters

Graduate employers use a range of methods in the recruitment selection process. Take a look at our guide to the types of job interview and activities you might face and get some quick tips.
Use the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the organisation, but don't hog conversations.

Telephone interviews

What assessors want

Interviewers want to check you meet the basic requirements for the position. You also need to show: an interest in the company, enthusiasm, and a polite nature.

They don't want...

... a distracted, unprepared candidate.

Top tips

  • Always find a quiet spot to take the call.
  • Keep a copy of your CV/application form to hand.
  • Smile – it comes across when you speak.

Aptitude tests

What assessors want

Accuracy and careful thought are essential for aptitude tests. Recruiters are checking your reasoning, numeracy and literacy skills.

They don't want...

... Einstein.

Top tips

  • Practice – the more you familiarise yourself with aptitude tests the better you will be.
  • Listen to or read carefully any instructions given. Make sure you understand what each question asks.
  • Work quickly, but accurately.

Group exercises

What assessors want

Teamwork, problem-solving ability and a logical, analytical approach to the task. You will be working with others on a practical task or problem-solving activity, or could be involved in a debate or discussion.

They don't want...

... dominating personalities who take over or shy retiring mice they can't assess.

Top tips

  • Understand the objective of the task and what result needs to be achieved.
  • Make sure you contribute, but don't dominate proceedings.
  • Be assertive in arguing your point, but be courteous and listen to others.
  • Be prepared to compromise and brush up your diplomacy skills.
  • Be the person who draws out the ideas of quieter members of the team.
  • Be a good task manager: keep the team focused on the task and result that needs to be achieved, summarise progress and keep track of time.

Presentations

What assessors want

Confidence and good communication skills. You need to get across the key messages and information about your topic.

They don't want...

... lack of preparation, waffle or jargon.

Top tips

  • If you are given a topic before the day, prepare your presentation well in advance.
  • Check what presentation facilities will be available, and familiarise yourself with presentation technology.
  • Give your presentation a good structure: opening, middle and conclusion.
  • Practise before the day to build your confidence, get the pace right and check timing.
  • Keep to the time allocated.
  • Be prepared for questions.

Panel interviews

What assessors want

You need to be confident, engage with all the people on the panel, make good eye contact and give succinct answers.

They don't want...

... someone who flusters easily or doesn't listen to the questions.

Top tips

  • Respond to the person who asks the question, but also try to engage with the other interviewers on the panel.
  • Take a breath and consider your answer before you respond.
  • Prepare as you would for any interview: review your application and the job description; make sure you can respond to standard interview questions; try to anticipate questions the panel might ask.

Lunch or other social activities

What assessors want

You won't necessarily be formally assessed while eating lunch or dinner, but you want to create the right impression. Common sense and basic social abilities are the key to success.

They don't want...

... abuse of alcohol or party tricks.

Top tips

  • Be yourself, but be self-aware.
  • Don't drink for dutch courage, and avoid caffeine or fizzy drinks if you know they will make you fidgety.
  • Make sure you eat something to keep up your strength.
  • Use the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the organisation, but don't hog conversations.

Personality questionnaires

What assessors want

These are not tests and there are no right or wrong answers. Personality questionnaires assess different personality traits, such as motivation, working style, etc, and help recruiters find the best place for you to fit in.

They don't want...

... you to second-guess what you think they want to hear.

Top tips

  • Answer questions honestly.

Case studies

What assessors want

Initiative, leadership qualities, and analytical and problem-solving abilities. You will need to work through information and make decisions.

They don't want...

... MBA-level analysis – not for graduate roles, anyway.

Top tips

  • Get involved and articulate what you are thinking.
  • Ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of what is being asked.
  • Attend practice sessions offered by your careers service so that you get into the way of thinking and acting.
  • Identify the outcomes you need to reach and manage the time available.
  • If a presentation is part of the activity, allow time for this and understand who you will be presenting to and what information they will expect to receive.
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