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The typical recruitment process for graduate jobs and schemes includes the following stages:
The exact selection process you can expect may vary depending on the employer and position/programme for which you are applying.
The application process for graduate jobs takes less time relative to that of graduate schemes. There is usually no more than a four-to-six-week hiring process beginning at the end of your final academic year. The recruitment process for graduate training schemes can be quite lengthy, and it usually begins at the beginning of your final year at university.
Below we will briefly discuss each of the stages you may face during the recruitment process.
The application stage is where the employer can begin to screen applicants, weeding out those less suitable and noticing those who are more desirable for the positions. As part of your application process, you will be required to submit a CV and a cover letter. In addition, there may be several questions you are asked to answer. The following are the types of questions you can expect at this stage:
As a candidate, you will be asked to take one or more of the following graduate tests online. Please note that once you move on to the assessment centre stage, you will likely be asked to retake a version of the same type of test, to ensure that you are the person who completed the original test:
Some companies have in-house graduate assessments, but most use the services of external assessment companies, such as:
|CEB's SHL||Kenexa||Saville||Talent Q||Pearson TalentLens|
|Cubiks||cut-e||Revelian||PI LI||Criterion Partnership|
If you successfully passed the previous stages of the recruitment process, you will probably have a screening interview next. This initial graduate interview usually takes place over the phone or through Skype, rather than face-to-face. An increasing number of graduate employers have replaced the traditional telephone interview with a digital or video interview. A digital interview is a way for employers to send questions to potential candidates who then answer them in front of a webcam and send the recordings back to the employer for review.
The interview is usually held by your prospective manager or a member of the HR team. It serves as another way to sift many of the candidates; only a few make it to the final stages.
You can expect questions about yourself, your motivation for applying for the job, what your goals are, why you are the best candidate for the job, and if you have any questions for the interviewer about the position or the employer in general.
If you did well on your tests and first interview, you will likely be required to attend up to one, or as many as two, graduate assessment days. These take place either at an assessment centre or on-site at the employer's headquarters or local office. The following are the types of activities you can expect at a graduate assessment centre:
During the assessment centre, or once you have completed it and been moved up to the final stage, you will be interviewed. The graduate interview is either a standard one-on-one interview, a panel interview, or a group interview with other applicants. Your interview will likely be conducted by an HR representative or a senior manager.
The interview might be a technical interview (usually for engineering and IT) or just a relatively informal chat to check your communication skills. A favourite amongst employers is competency interviews. Your interview may include questions like why you are interested in the job, what you know about the employer, or what you know about the industry. Occasionally, there are also brain teaser questions.
At every point in the process, you must be on top of your game to continue to the next stage. If you don't do well in one of the stages, you will probably not be considered for the job at all. However, by working hard to be well-prepared for each stage of the recruitment process, you will improve your chances of getting an offer.
The most recent High Fliers report includes graduate recruitment trends for 2018. Here are the highlights:
Graduate jobs are entry-level positions that require a university degree. Unlike graduate schemes, they tend to include ‘on-the-job’ learning experience rather than structured training. In addition, they usually consist of a relatively fast application process. Entry-level graduate jobs are offered by companies, such as some small to medium employers, that do not offer graduate training schemes. Examples of industries in which one may find a graduate entry-level job are architecture, IT, journalism, management, logistics, and marketing and sales.
Many recent graduates, as well as final-year students, look for graduate entry jobs because they provide a great opportunity to learn and develop new skills as well as gain valuable experience that both looks good on your CV and helps jumpstart your career. Graduate jobs also tend to have fewer people competing for the same position than graduate schemes, which makes it easier to find one among the wide choice of employers. In addition, graduate jobs are a great way to use the specific skills you acquired in your degree courses, giving you a clearly defined role. The most beneficial advantage of starting your career with a graduate job may be the high level of 'on the job' training and professional development you receive as you earn your employer's trust for early responsibility.
Unfortunately, the flow of new graduates entering the job market every year makes it hard to get into a graduate position. Statistics shows that approximately 30% of graduates do not find graduate-level jobs after university. They are employed in non-graduate jobs, which are often not relevant to their degree and do not utilise their abilities and skills or promote their progress.
Graduate schemes, also known as graduate programmes or graduate training schemes, are structured programmes that combine earning a salary with an employee training program. The schemes usually consist of a set period of time, during which training and on-the-job practice take place. This will help you to gain a good understanding of different areas of the business, with the aim of progression. Graduate programmes usually last for about a year, including the training period, but they can extend to two years and often lead to permanent positions. They are common in large companies in sectors such as finance, retail management, and surveying. Graduate job schemes are less common in areas such as the charity, journalism, and NGO fields.
Graduate schemes' salaries tend to be relatively high for graduate roles, and the jobs can frequently turn into more permanent positions, which is why graduates often try to get a graduate trainee job. If you want to continue on to another company or organisation, starting your career with a graduate training scheme will provide an impressive line on your CV, not to mention a stellar reference. Graduate schemes are usually structured and afford the graduate a well-planned entry into working life, as the training is of the highest standard. In addition, they are tailor-made for graduates right out of university, affording you an easier transition into your career. Graduate schemes are one of the most highly sought-after graduate opportunities and places are limited. Only 12–15% of students get a place on a graduate scheme, and, therefore, these graduate training programmes are very competitive.
Recruitment for graduate jobs occurs all year round and peaks between May and July and between September and November. Vacancies are filled quickly, usually within about a month, so it is vital to apply as early as possible.
Applications for graduate schemes usually start in September of your final year at university and close between November and January. It is best to apply as soon as possible even though some employers do not have a fixed deadline and accept ongoing applications. To help you keep track of updated deadlines, check out these websites for the following:
It is best to apply as early as possible—even as early as September—in your final year of university, as companies may shut down the process once they have filled all the vacancies. Consider this: once you complete the application, you may be asked to take an online test on the spot, so you should prepare in advance of applying.
Most employers prefer their candidates to start in August/September, right after graduation from university.
A great way to find a graduate job is to get an internship, industrial placement, or vacation work with an employer. In fact, employers report that more than 30% of this year's entry-level graduate jobs are expected be filled by graduates who have already been employed by their company. So, if you still have time to get a vacation position at an interesting company, it is recommended. If you have already worked for such a company, apply there for a graduate opportunity first.
Here are some ideas of where to look for graduate jobs:
Some employers are more popular with graduates because of their high starting salaries, the employee benefits they offer, and their quality job conditions. The following are The Guardian and The Times list of the top graduate employers:
For the full list, check out our UK top employers page.
What is an SME? An SME is a company whose staff is comprised of no more than 250 employees. Their fields are usually advertising, architecture, or marketing, but such companies can be found in any sector. Of course, there are pros and cons of working at both an SME and a larger company, and you should choose the one with the right fit for you.
What are the pros of working at an SME?
What are the cons of working at an SME?
What are the pros of working at a big company?
What are the cons of working at a big company?