I have been working to make matches between college students and corporate recruiters since 2000. Recruiters have gone on to be close friends, mentors, and consultants for questions. I even have immediate family members that are HR managers and vice presidents in top global brands. My experience over the last two decades has helped me to formulate a quick list of three action items that I wish more recruiters would consider when interviewing students.
Ask the Student if They Need an Accommodation
When scheduling an interview, don’t just ask what day/time works for the candidate, and nothing else. Always ask if they need an accommodation or say that you are happy to provide the accommodation already requested. Most students are terrified to bring this up. Many inadvertently leave it off on applications. And even when they do ask for an accommodation, they need reinsurance that you will be accepting of that accommodation. Making all candidates feel as comfortable as possible, will make sure that everyone performs their best in an interview.
Share Details of the Interview With the Student
I cannot believe how many students (even after they ask) are going into an interview with no idea of who they are interviewing with or what the interview structure is. Interviews are not always on-campus where career coaches can prep and share details. Most of the time, students are applying on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other online sites. They are also applying directly to companies and landing these great interviews, but are going into interviews with little or no information from the recruiter. Just recently I had a student who was selected to interview. Since he applied for several positions, he asked for the job description and interview format. All he was given was the timing for the hour slot and a link for the web-based interview. Students can better prepare if they have at least a general idea of who they are interviewing with, and what to expect. Having accurate information regarding the people, process, and details of the job description will help candidates present their best self.
Take a Chance on a Student
I have great examples of students who might not have done their best in an initial screening interview, but after they were told what they needed to do differently, really stepped up and became rock-stars. Some students need extra coaching and lots of confidence building. As recruiters, please remember that for some students, the interviews we put them through might be their first. They might not have worked with a career coach at all. If a student resume lists the skills you desire and showcases a strong work ethic, why not give them a second chance to interview and direct them to a career coach? Sometimes these second chances are how we create company loyalty, build confidence, and find future leaders.
In my previous role I managed a career services department. In my current role I manage the ‘corporate track’ students (i.e. accounting, finance, consulting, technology, marketing) where I work with the group from preparation to summer placement, and then during the internship until they accept the full time offer at the end. The thousands of students I have worked with over the years are all stories. Stories of interview experiences, stories of internship best practices, and stories of why students did (or did not) accept offers. We all want those placements, and sometimes in changing a few processes along the way we can improve the candidate experience as well as increase our qualified applicant pool.