I think Chris Rock put it best: “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.” Interviews now have a choreography that both parties follow. It’s a delicate charade of pleasantries and truth-stretching. I think there is a more effective interview method to help candidates and managers determine if a role is a perfect fit.
In 2001, I was on the hunt for my first “Big Job” after college. I had worked full-time as a banker while going through school so I figured I had a head start on many of my fellow graduates who had not worked in a professional capacity like me. My dream was to find a marketing job that would propel me to the greatness I felt I was destined for. Needless to say, when I got a call from a recruiter to attend a day-long interview for a Marketing Assistant role, I thought I had struck gold.
With my suit was on, breakfast in hand, I drove three hours early one morning to my interview. I began preparing myself for what questions may be asked during a day long interview. As I walked into the office thirty minutes early, I felt certain I was as prepared as any candidate interviewing that day. Things did not go as I thought they would.
My day long interview for the “Marketing Assistant” position went nothing like I had expected. I spent the day with two of the top performers in the position in a ride-along. We got to our assigned area at 10:00 am and my interview began. I spend the next seven hours going door to door with the two guys trying to sell a book of coupons for pizza.
That’s right. I thought I was applying for my dream job working with a high powered marketing agency when in fact, I would be nothing more than a door to door salesman. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that job and a lot of money could have been made, but the role was not what I thought it was. Even if I accepted the role without the “Day in the Life” experience, I would have been one of the quick quit statistics for the firm.
In 2001, I did not have as much information at my fingertips as those who graduate college have today. Glassdoor, Reddit, and other similar platforms allow the candidate market to research companies and roles of interest. I’ve spoken to numerous new hires who express their frustration that the interview process was misleading or that they felt the recruiting process was a bait and switch. These perceptions can be detrimental to any organization’s effort to attract and retain emerging talent in an already competitive, candidate-driven market.
How do you avoid botching your college recruiting strategy? Here are a couple of ideas.
Make Internships Worth It
There are a few companies that really make the internship process work in their favor. Companies like Google, PwC and Deloitte offer internships that allow college candidates to work on actual projects related to their coursework. Not only do they have the opportunity to see the organization and gain insights as to their fit with the organization. Most companies view internships as a way to pay highly trained labor a low rate while gaining some productivity in the firm’s workload. This is the best way to sabotage your college recruiting strategy.
The first step you need to take is to create a framework and accountability check-ins with program participants. I like to have a template document to go through with my managers to ensure we capture the role details and set expectations. It’s also the time I measure the commitment level of the executives to be sure they’re truly going to dedicate time to the interns, not just use them as cheap labor.
Another great idea I stole from another firm is a biweekly check-in with the recruiter. Interns may feel more comfortable providing feedback to their recruiter versus their executive sponsor. It’s also a great way to make quick changes to the program if needed rather than waiting for the program to end to receive actionable feedback.
If you’d like my free Internship Guidebook, click here to get your copy.
Have a “Day in the Life” Event/Interview
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that constricting views of how recruiting should be done are in the past. Why not apply this thought process to how you interview college talent?
I spoke with five other TA Leaders and all indicated the college recruiting interviews with their firm (interns, management rotation positions, and similar roles) usually last at least a half a day. This is time wasted in my opinion. Why wouldn’t you want to change that experience for both the candidate and the manager and have an interview I call the “Day in the Life”?
During this interview format, the participants would be able to work on a small project alongside hiring managers. The goal is to allow the managers to see the students work in a simulated environment while the students have the opportunity to view the company in a more realistic view. This format also helps reduce potential bias hiring since managers will be able to evaluate candidates on performance, team engagement and other competency-based metrics versus “how did they answer a question.”
Branding this event will also attract more students who will see your firm as an innovator. Perhaps I’m the biased one but I’d much rather go to a simulated job day over a half day of answering boring questions.
These are just two ideas but there are so many ways you can revamp your recruiting process. Be open to exploring new ideas and involve your hiring managers in the process. You might have the best idea already at your organization, if you’d only challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone. Be sure to share your successes in the comments below. I can’t wait to read what kind of new, funky approaches you’re taking to meeting the constantly changing recruiting landscape.
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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One thought on “College Recruiting Hack: The interview format that saved my career”
Thanks foor sharing