Four specific aspects of corporate recruitment practices are infuriating graduates and damaging employer brands, claims a new study.

Assessment specialist Talent Q questioned over 500 graduates and undergraduates about their experience of applying for jobs, whilst at or soon after leaving university. The results reveal that graduates are particularly frustrated by four major flaws in organisational recruitment processes. These are:

  • A lack of communication and feedback during their application process.
  • Enduring a long, drawn out selection process that seems to include unnecessary ‘hoops’ for them to jump through.
  • Rude, condescending or unprepared interviewers.
  • Finding that the position that they’d applied for is actually quite different to the real role that’s on offer.

Only 45% of graduates say they are satisfied with the recruitment experience they have received. 11% say they have had such a bad experience from a prospective employer, when applying for a job, that it has put them off using that organisation’s products or service in the future.

“Graduates are telling us that they want a real insight into the role, an engaging and quick application process, cordial interviewers, a professional and fast selection process and they want to be kept up-to-date with correspondence and feedback,” said Steve O’Dell, Managing Director, UK at Talent Q. “These are not unreasonable requests. Those organisations that don’t deliver these things are not only being disrespectful to their candidates, they’re damaging their employer brand.”

According to the study, 22% of graduates read other people’s recruitment experiences online, in student forums, and 70% of graduates claim that other people’s bad experiences with an organisation would put them off applying to that company for a job. 51% say negative publicity about an organisation would deter them and 42% say a long application process would put them off.

“Organisations clearly need to be careful about their employer brand and the image they present to candidates,” said Steve O’Dell. “It’s important to look at your recruitment process through the eyes of a graduate because many of your candidates will actually be your customers too, if not now, but in the future. At all times, you want job applicants to feel valued and engaged, even if they will not be appointed. If you antagonise graduates by giving them a poor experience, you could not only lose your ideal candidates to a competitor, you could also lose their current and future business.”

The study shows that the most important factors that graduates look for when deciding which organisations to apply to are: a good insight into the role (84%); career progression opportunities (83%); personal development (82%); location (77%); a match with their career aspirations (77%) and whether the organisation has ethical values (63%). 72% claim that the starting salary and employee benefits are important.

According to the study, only 49% of organisations explain why they are using assessments in the recruitment process. Of the graduates who undertook assessments, only 49% were given feedback on the tests they had undertaken. Of these, less than half (44%) were satisfied with the detail of that feedback.

“It is particularly important to explain to candidates why you are asking them to take assessments and how the resultant information is relevant to the job,” said Steve O’Dell. “An easy way to give feedback afterwards is to use the ‘automatic reporting’ functionality that some assessment companies provide. This lets candidates access a feedback report for each psychometric test they’ve taken.”

According to the study, graduates believe that their university should do more to help them prepare for the world of work. Only 38% feel they receive useful careers advice and only 35% are advised on how to prepare for the challenge of getting a job.

“Graduate recruitment processes may be meeting the needs of organisations but this study shows they are not meeting the needs of candidates,” said Steve O’Dell. “Employers can and should do more to improve their level of candidate care. Universities should also provide more comprehensive careers advice and offer coaching to better prepare their students for the recruitment experiences they’ll encounter.”