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What's Wrong with High Volume Graduate Screening?

Posted 14/8/2017

The consistent challenge faced by graduate recruiters has remained how to screen large volumes of applications to a “manageable” size, which allows for meaningful assessment. Shotgun marketing encourages too many applications. So what tools do employers use to perform initial screening?

Go back to the days of paper applications (imagine 1,000 resumes in piles) and employers resorted to GPA as their go-to screening tool. A minimum GPA of 65% eliminated one-third of applications. And employers rationalised it was better to hire a graduate with strong academics.

With online applicant tracking systems, came filtering questions. Common filters included working rights status, when the applicant completed their degree, GPA and degree discipline. That helped weed out some of the outliers.

And there were employers who took the ATS filters further asking if the applicant had career related work experience or an internship. Or asking applicants to self-rate for attributes like leadership.   

But for the majority of employers ATS filters weren’t really that effective. So they turned to cognitive testing. Similar to the minimum GPA logic, employers figured it was better to hire graduates who performed well in these tests. But just as with GPA, most employers had no data to correlate their selected cognitive test minimum score with a graduate’s success in their organisation. In other words, these “hurdles” were set arbitrarily.

The other downside of these approaches is that applicants are being assessed and potentially rejected on a single attribute. A well-rounded candidate with strong extra-curriculars and relevant work experience will be rejected at the first stage because of a 63% GPA. (Or discouraged from applying in the first instance). Another well-rounded candidate will be rejected because their cognitive score is a few points below the employer’s arbitrary minimum. Yet a candidate with limited extra-curriculars and no relevant work experience will breeze through initial screening because they pass the GPA and cognitive test hurdles.

Graduate screening is a compromised process. A compromise between employer efficiency and being fair in the assessment of applicants. Of course, there are many employers who still review each graduate’s application and resume as the first stage of screening. But that’s a strain on employer resources and gets harder as application numbers rise.    

So, are there alternatives? New graduate screening technology is almost here. It’s an application that uses applied intelligence to empirically assess across multiple applicant attributes. That includes academics, work experience, extra-curriculars, influencing and leadership, technical skills, diversity and language. And it’s backed by powerful analytics.

It may be the graduate screening tool that delivers efficiency and effectiveness to employers and fairness to their applicants.