5 Areas Your Students Are Falling Short in the Recruitment Process

May welcomed the annual PlaceNet conference hosted in the luxurious Grosvenor Hotel in London. Armed with chandeliers and fragrant flower bouquets, it’s safe to say, it is not your average conference venue. 

RateMyPlacement is delighted to partner with PlaceNet to host day two of their conference. As PlaceNet are key in supporting university careers and placement officers across the UK, the partnership allows us to share insights from student written reviews left on our website as well as trends that we have found from speaking with undergraduate employers.

Rolling with the theme of the conference which was ‘Building the Graduate of the Future’, we invited four key employers to join us in providing insights on how they are re-shaping their recruitment processes and how students can best prepare for assessment.

So, how can our students best prepare for their future careers. We have five key areas where students are falling below the mark... 

#1  Strength over experience

Kicking off the day was the winner of the Best Diversity Initiative in Work Experience at the NUE Awards, Civil Service. Being inclusive and accessible is at the heart of their fast stream opportunities and aligns (obviously) well with their strength based recruitment process. A means by which they switch the focus from previous employability experiences to individual passions and interests.

Their reframing of keywords (below) is essential to share with students to build confidence and allow them to identify their own competencies. 

The learning? Students need to identify their strengths and passions before embarking on the recruitment process so they feel more comfortable talking about them. 

#2  The importance of company values

Core values and mission statements sit at the spinal cord of a business, linking all different teams and departments, whilst also powering key decisions including those in the hiring process. 

What’s important here is that students assess these values and see if they align with their own. Feeling passionate about what a company is trying to do and how they are trying to do it is key to motivation, success and aspiration whilst on work experience.

GSK talked openly about how they use their values and expectations as part of their assessment criteria when recruiting placement students. If students show a lack of enthusiasm and excitement about being patient focused, then quite honestly, are they right for GSK?

The above predicament is applicable to all firms and should be at the forefront of the student mind when they are applying for opportunities. 

#3  It's not just a casual chat

Contrary to some student belief, the telephone / video interview is not installed to have a casual chat. It’s the first obstacle to be tackled amongst the many that create the application assault course.

Computacenter presented a brilliantly honest overview of where students are crashing out in the process and initial stage interviews were high up there. From inappropriate surroundings to lack of prep, it has been evident that students might have missed the ‘this is an important call’ memo.

Just because the employer can’t see them does not mean they can’t sense the scripted, unorganised chaos that the student has chosen to surround themselves in.

Video interviews in particular were highlighted as an area where students really struggle. It was appreciated that it’s not the most comfortable situation but it does allow employers to see how students adapt and handle pressure. Employers have engrained video into their recruitment processes so whilst they are here to stay, why not set up video interview workshops to help students best prepare!



 - Research on the employer
 - ​Listening to what's being asked of them
 - Building rapport at the beginning of the call to show personality

#4  Forgetting to check their emails

A lot of the employers spoke openly about how it takes students a surprisingly long time to reply to any email communications. 

It may not be natural for students to check their inboxes however in the business world, this is the instagram of communication.

From replying efficiently students will not only be able to illustrate their organisation skills but could also avoid missing out on a ripe opportunity to secure work experience.

#5  Duke of Edinburgh, Bronze Award

We all know Duke of Edinburgh is an amazing project curated for students to advance their employability skills through various means. ProspectSoft touched on students with these sort of achievements being strong contenders in the race for their schemes. However, what was made very clear was that if Duke of Edinburgh bronze is the only experience or extra-curricular activity on a student’s CV, then it is a clear representation of how individuals haven’t had the ‘get up and go’ to take their achievements any further, or pursue any hobbies or activities which are going to differentiate them. 

Employers aren’t asking for students to only care about their business purpose but to have interests and passions which they have integrated into their life experiences. Examples of when they’ve had to be self motivated to participate in something outside of curriculum activities.

From being a stay at home carer which shows incredible strength, patience and resilience to team activities such as debating; there’s plenty of examples available for students to include. 

So how do we help students in these areas?

Many of you may read the above insights and think to yourself that none of them are revolutionary. Agreed, however it seems disappointing that students are still falling short in such obvious areas of the recruitment process. 

CV workshops and mock interviews are a great way to get students to think about how they are presenting and composing themselves to employers. Set workshops on video interviews will go a long way too; with 53% of employers integrating video platforms into their recruitment processes it will be a huge benefit for students to learn more about how it works. (You can check out an example here.)

Look at ways you can get highly sought out employers to partner with your university to help you educate your students, as well as touch on all of the above pain points to support undergraduates through the process.

The internet is also drowning in advice blogs, including the ones on RateMyPlacement. If you’re struggling to get students to attend your on-campus activities, then distributing advice digitally will mean they can access the information in their own time.

There is always going to be teething problems however what’s important is that we continue to work together to minimise them! We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of how you’re preparing students for their assessments so please comment below.