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Fundamentals of college recruiting Phase II: Candidate selection

“People are your most important asset.” Right? Wrong! Jim Collins, business consultant and author of Good to Great put it best: “People are not your most important asset—the right people are.”

In my first webinar on college recruiting, we polled the audience about their top college recruiting concerns, and two chief concerns emerged:

(1)   Lack of efficiency in the recruiting process (38%)

(2)   Students’ level of interest in the company (40%)

One of the main causes of the above concerns, and of hiring failures in general, is the lack of a structured hiring methodology. The good news is that a structured approach lends itself particularly well to college hiring as many of the processes are easily executed in bulk.

A basic illustration of an example process is as follows:



In the illustration above, four simple but critical themes in orange follow the process outlined in blue:

(1)   Simplify: Why do more work than you have to? Most importantly, why make candidates do more work than they have to? Candidates are interviewing you as well and your process, in their mind, is a reflection of what it will be like to work at your company.

(2)   Consistency: The only way to receive reliable results is to continually execute a well laid-out hiring methodology.

(3)   Record Data: Life is spinning so quickly these days that taking a moment to write down, or better yet, use an applicant tracking system (ATS), will not only look good to your boss and make reporting easier, but is essential to keeping organized. Furthermore, having managers use a post-interview candidate feedback form enables more reliability and consistency and, thus, a more accurate side-by-side comparison.

(4)   Reference Key: What use is recording data if you can’t link the data together? Besides just a requisition and reference ID, try to use a reference key that can feed into your other systems (i.e. put the job or position code in the requisition request so you can tie it to your other systems when it comes time for reporting). Who likes scrubbing different spreadsheets together? I know I don’t.


Highlights of the process workflow are:

(1)   Initial Screen: Initially, use university ATS or an aggregate university ATS, as it will yield a much higher volume of applicants (as it’s easier for them to apply) and it takes almost no time to sift through the resumes. Also, bulk select the candidates you wish to go forward with and mass email them that you are interested and that they should apply via your website. (I remember when I was a student that if a company expressed at least some interest I was a LOT more likely to take the 30+ minutes to apply on its website.)

(2)   ATS Screen: If you are a lesser-known company and you follow the above process, you will benefit from a higher conversion rate of students viewing the job posting to applying on your website. If you are an employer of choice on campus then you can even insert additional questions onto your online application. For example, Procter & Gamble’s application includes a conceptual reasoning test. A bonus of including this reasoning test is that completion indicates genuine student interest.

(3)   Interview: The number one item to stress at the interview stage is the post-interview candidate feedback form. In the first row, place the names of the candidates. In the first column, choose common college-gained competencies. In the column next to each competency, write questions that guide a manager’s schema regarding leadership, such as “resolves group conflicts effectively?” Then the manager is instructed to decide on a 1-5 scale the level a candidate displays for each competency (see consistency and record data above).

(4)   Selection: To avoid the common human tendency to engage in groupthink, each manager should fill out the form separately and then meet together to make the selection.

(5)   References: Simplify the process by asking candidates to set up the calls between HR and the reference.

An additional consideration during the last stage of the process is to survey the key stakeholders – candidates, HR, mangers – on the process and quality of interview. Surveying key stakeholders will provide insights and best practices to refine the recruiting process in the future. Inputting and integrating recruiting data into your performance management system allows managers and HR to look back at qualities that candidates possess and to the assess how well a candidate has onboarded and performed during a three-month interview or six-month interview. Data revealing essential qualities or high-performing candidates from particular schools can also be incorporated into next year’s recruiting plans.

The time and effort put into recruiting cannot be underestimated. We might as well put those hours into a structured, consistent process so that each step yields worthwhile results and great talent for the future of our companies.


Gabriella Angiolillo joined Peoplefluent shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt University with a major in Human and Organizational Development and minor in Financial Economics. As an Associate Talent Management Consultant in Peoplefluent’s HR department, Gabriella is able to explore the intersection between human capital, organizational effectiveness and software. She utilizes and implements Peoplefluent’s own software products internally in initiatives spanning from Apply with LinkedIn integration on Peoplefluent’s website to administering the performance process. 

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