Recruitment and Selection
It is important to ensure that everyone has fair access and opportunity to apply for placement or internship roles, and this involves making reasonable adjustments at each stage of the application process to accommodate everyone's needs. These adjustments may include allowing additional time to complete tasks or discussing the possibility of flexible working hours with the candidate.
A CIPD resource on Disability and Employment, including suggestions for ensuring good recruitment practices, can be found here.
With these adjustments in mind and depending on the size of your organisation, you may wish to consider a range of recruitment and selection tools to select the most suitable student for your placement.
Here are some of the methods that placement providers will typically use. They may use a combination of the below depending on the complexity of the role, skills required and resource available:
A CV and cover letter allows you to identify a candidate’s key skills, experience and interests. A cover letter is particularly effective in understanding a candidate’s motivation for the placement opportunity and their appreciation of the organisation’s values and activities.
You may consider setting page limits for these documents in the job specification. Typically, this will be two sides of A4 for a CV and one side of A4 for a cover letter, though the length and format may well depend on the nature of your organisation.
An application form offers a clear picture of whether the candidate meets your key requirements and provides an ideal opportunity to test written communication. It is an efficient way to sift through a candidate pool and given its uniformity allows for a fair and transparent recruitment process for all.
Some typical application form questions may include:
Why do you want to work for this company?
What do you want to get out of a placement opportunity?
Situation-based questions – “A client/customer/manager has requested x. What do you do?”
Commercial awareness questions - “How do you feel x might affect our business?”
Recorded video answers can be an engaging alternative (or complement to) the written application process and are increasingly popular in a range of sectors, including law and the creative industries. This method invites the candidate to demonstrate key competencies that cannot be easily identified in a written process, such as verbal communication and self-presentation.
You may consider setting time limits for each question in the job specification, e.g. a ten-minute video file to cover three or four questions.
An assessment centre allows you to see candidates in action through their participation in individual and group activities. This can be a great way to test skills that are difficult to evaluate in a traditional interview, such as teamwork and interpersonal qualities.
These exercises are increasingly popular amongst recruiters, allowing you to assess how a student performs in a particular situation. Such an exercise would normally closely resemble a task that they may encounter in the day-to-day running of your organisation. Often included as part of an assessment centre or prior to an interview, in-tray exercises are effective ways to test a student’s knowledge, skills and attitudes to the role available.
Examples of in-tray exercises may include:
A draft email to a client or customer
A small research task
A multiple-choice quiz that simulates particular work situations (e.g. “A colleague asks for x, what do you do?”)
A review of a document (e.g.to test proofreading skills or for ensuring legal compliance)
Depending on the needs of your organisation or the activities you undertake, you may want to ensure that the student can demonstrate a particular competency through an appropriate aptitude test.
For example, a placement in the financial sector may demand a certain level of mathematical skills that can be measured through a numerical test. A placement in marketing, advertising or social media is likely to require strong proofreading skills, so an error-checking exercise may be appropriate in this case.
Interviews can take many formats appropriate to the context. These might be conducted one-to-one or with a small panel and may take place in-person, online or by telephone. You may also integrate the interview as part of a longer assessment day. The University offers support and training to students for all of these formats.
It is recommended that you tailor your questions along the lines of the job specification (if you have one) to allow the student to focus on their skills, knowledge and attitudes appropriate to the advertised role.
You may consider using a scoring grid at any stage of the recruitment process to accurately measure a candidate against the person specification for the advertised position. With this method, a candidate can be marked on each criterion on a scale of 0 –3 (0 denoting no experience up to 3 where the candidate exceeds the necessary experience) with each candidate receiving a cumulative score. This method has the advantage of ensuring fairness and consistency across the application process.