After 8 years in the field of Graduate recruitment and after working with clients such as Accenture, Microsoft, SAP and LinkedIn as well as many SAAS startups, I feel I am in a great position to discuss what employers look for because they have told me!
One thing that struck me during my time in Graduate recruitment was the amount of candidates who were rejected through the assessment process. From 500 applications per week, we invited on average 30 to an assessment center and from there only 5 would be successful!
What happened to those 495 people who were unsuccessful?! Where were they going wrong? How could they improve and join the top 1%?
Within this article I want to highlight what employers are actually looking for in graduates, so you know how to act within the interview process to improve your chances of success.
- Someone who can add value– An employer will be investing money and time into hiring you as a graduate and therefore you must be able to demonstrate how you can add value to them. Your employer is in business to make money, save money and mitigate risk, so start positioning yourself in those terms. Think about how you can help make the company money (conduct research into potential customers, book meetings for their top sales closers to attend, conduct administration work to free up the time of the senior members of the team, conduct great customer service to existing customers). Think about how you can save them money (You will cost a lot less than experienced members of the team, you are a fast learner and can assimilate information, use examples!) and then discuss how and why you are a low risk hire (You have a great academic record for example, you understand their industry, you don’t need much time to train etc).
- Someone positive with a great attitude Potential employers want to be surrounded by positive energy and by someone that will remain upbeat even when the going gets tough. Business is not easy and mistakes will be made along the way. You need to be someone who has encountered rejection before and handled it well! You must be strong, resilient and positive! Think of examples where you have handles challenges successfully.
- Someone who can be taught quickly and easily– Time is a precious commodity in business and employers will want you to demonstrate why you won’t take up too much of their time. A good tip is to highlight that you are obsessed by your own personal development and learning. There are so many books out there. Go to the library, your old University careers center, book shops or research on the internet to learn about their industry, their competitors, conduct a SWOT analysis and read books on personal growth and self-development.
- A candidate who will take the initiative– At University you spent hours writing essays and conducting dissertations on subjects, which may or may not serve you in the working world. Why not take all that knowledge you have gained and begin a dissertation on the company you are going for an interview with? Prepare a document demonstrating their strengths and your suggestions for them to improve. The employer will be incredibly impressed with the initiative shown.
- Someone confident– Once you understand that 96% of what people think and feel is subconscious, you can play to this and realize that if you act confident, the person interviewing you will perceive you as confident, meaning that they will consider you someone who will get the job done and have the confidence to take the initiative.
- Someone intelligent Employers want to know that they can trust you to write emails and letters without any mistakes. They want to trust you to discuss key initiatives and propose intelligent ideas and suggestions. They want to groom you to be a potential leader of the company and therefore intelligence is key!
- Someone presentable– In Business, especially in customer interaction roles, presentation is very important! Employers want to be certain that you will represent their organization with great conduct and professionalism even when the office doors have shut.
- Focus and a clear demonstration that this is the job they want– Employers want to know that you are focused on working for them and one of the best ways of getting a job is by clearly demonstrating that the company you are interviewing with is the industry, company and job that you want! Never say that you are going for interviews with everyone and anyone. Stroke their ego, state that this is the only role you want, tailor your C.V. accordingly and FOCUS!
There are lots more suggestions you can quickly implement now if you want to maximize your chances of success. You can find these suggestions, as well as many other hints and tips within my book, ‘The Graduate Bible’, which is available to buy on Amazon. The link is below.