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Graduate Programs: Achieving Socio-Economic Diversity

December 2020


As employers prepare for next year’s graduate and intern recruitment, many are looking for ways to increase the socio-economic diversity of their hires.

When it comes to diversity, everyone understands the organizational benefits. New perspectives and different ways of thinking; creativity from a variety of approaches; employee performance and sense of inclusion; and organization performance including higher profitability for commercial organizations.

At the graduate level, graduates from a lower socio-economic status often bring a real resilience learnt from dealing with ambiguity and overcoming obstacles and challenges on their own.

The area where graduate employers face difficulty is achieving greater socio-economic diversity.  


Achieving Diversity Outcomes

December 2020

Here are two example of how employers have successfully increased the diversity of graduate hires.

Case One
Prior to using GradSift, this ASX listed company followed a process whereby HR screened candidates and presented hiring manager with a shortlist of resumes. However, bias was evident where some managers progressed with candidates from “preferred universities" or "preferred background”.

The objective in using GradSift was to improve diversity and streamline the recruitment process.

Using GradSift, HR was able to create a unique search profile for each role. This automatically generated a screened ranking of candidates who met their criteria. This alone saved HR an enormous amount of time.

From the rankings, HR shortlisted candidates. Managers were given the candidate’s resume and the GradSift ranking report highlighting overall academics, work experience and extra-curricular achievements. The latter was a new insight for managers who used both sets of data to choose who they would interview.

The results?

Greater diversity in hires. “Each application was evaluated objectively and without bias”(HR). “I would never have considered that candidate before” (Hiring Manager). In addition, it was a massive time and cost saver.

Case Two
A leading government department wanted to broaden the socio economic diversity of their graduates. Their typical applicant possessed “a dual degree from a big eight university”. That was fine but they wanted to ensure that candidates from more diverse backgrounds were actively considered throughout their assessment process.

They replaced cognitive abilities testing with GradSift as their initial assessment step. Firstly, it enabled them to assess candidates for the personal attributes and experiences that the Department valued. Then they used GradSift to identify candidates from the non-major universities. This included candidate rankings by academics, work experience and achievements. It meant they could easily assess and shortlist the top performers from non-major universities to progress to the next assessment stage. All of this was done in minutes.

The results?

“Larger diversity of shortlisted candidates progressing through all recruitment stages including hires”. And the bonus, “significantly cheaper per candidate than cognitive testing”.


How to Reduce Video Watch Time by 70%

December 2020

Recorded candidate video is used by two-thirds of graduate employers. It’s a time saver compared to the alternative of phone screening calls. But it’s a real pain when the recruiter has to watch 500, or even 800 videos. In fact, at up to 50 hours it’s almost torture!
Why does it take so long?

It starts before the video interview, when employers use an abilities test to initially screen candidates. Cognitive ability is one measure. But we all know that doesn’t correlate to communication or interpersonal skills, let alone the behaviors or experiences of candidates. So it’s a very mixed bag of candidates who reach video interview stage. And with up to 800 videos, recruiters naturally take short-cuts. Quickly rejecting candidates for an “unprofessional” messy bedroom in the background, or a clearly scripted response, or an instant assessment that they just won’t be a fit with the organization.

It’s not just the volume of videos that makes it time consuming. Recruiters are assessing for multiple behavioral skills from the different questions. That takes time. And it’s on top of assessing the candidate’s verbal communication and interest in the organization.

So how do you reduce video watch time by 70%? Use GradSift instead of a traditional video interview platform.

GradSift ranks candidates based on their behaviors and experiences. You can then watch video starting with the best candidates until you’ve reached the targeted shortlist numbers.

800 videos and the target is to progress 200? You might need to watch 240 to finalize the 200. That’s a 70% saving, or 35 hours of a recruiter’s life back!

Of course, GradSift technology makes this really easy to do. If you do cognitive testing upfront to reduce say 2,000 applicants to 800, continue to do that.

But replace the traditional video interview step with GradSift. GradSift enables you to set your own criteria to rank the 800 in seconds. Importantly, GradSift has assessed candidates on behaviors, work and extra-curricular experiences and their academic performance, in addition to employer set criteria.

Now, it’s just watching video of the best candidates. It’s a massive time saver and at a very low cost.


There's a Trend Happening

November 2020

There's a trend. Employers are moving away from abilities tests as the first step to cull applicants. What’s behind it?

Lets’ go back a few years. Remember when you were told that cognitive ability is the best indicator of job performance. Yes, it was imperfect. But is was the best tool available to HR. So why wouldn’t you use it?

And it was really simple for HR to administer. Get students to sit the test. Set a “pass mark”. Instantly, 1,000 candidates were reduced to 400 (or whatever number, based on pass rate used).

Cognitive ability has a moderately positive predictive correlation of 0.51. But did you know that a 0.50 correlation is classed as a low correlation? It really sits on the borderline. As a result, too many strong candidates were left behind. But as we were all reminded, it was the best tool that we had.

But the biggest danger was culling candidates solely on their cognitive ability score. The “science” and testing providers recommended against it. Yet, many employers did just that because it was efficient. Not effective. Just efficient.

So what’s happening now and why are employers switching from abilities tests when it comes to culling graduates?

Science has caught up, mostly powered by ai.

There are now much more effective alternatives available, including Pymetrics, Predictive Hire, Curious Thing and of course GradSift. They all assess graduates on multiple criteria for a more balanced candidate assessment. That translates to stronger shortlists and hiring success.

There’s still a place for cognitive testing. Where? Later in the assessment process when the results can be evaluated in conjunction with other assessment data


What Employers Say about GradSift

November 2020

We recently asked employers who use GradSift what they thought about it. While we're very confident in the GradSift experience for employers and candidates alike, we were delighted to see such powerful, positive feedback from employers. 

You can watch the detailed responses via this video link.

But in summary, this is what they had to collectively say.

  • GradSift is extremely easy to use.
  • It’s streamlined our assessment process, increased efficiency and productivity and saved an enormous amount of time and money.
  • It’s given more depth and consistency to the selection criteria and applications are evaluated objectively and without bias.
  • Instead of screening on cognitive ability, we can screen based on the needs of our organization including personal attributes and candidate experiences. Our random sampling of unsuccessful candidates supports this. The bonus is, it’s significantly cheaper per candidate than cognitive testing.
  • All of this has translated to greater diversity at each stage of the assessment process including hires.
  • Support is second to none.

Oh and there was a 100% positive response to "would you recommend GradSift to other employers".


2021 Candidate Reneges

October 2020

What happens when the 2021 graduates are ready to start? Expect a higher rate of reneges. Given the uncertainty, it’s understandable that graduates, if they can, will accept multiple offers.

There's enough history of employers rescinding graduate offers leaving candidates without a job when for the previous six months they had felt secure.

To manage potential reneges, best practice is to identify a group of back-up candidates. But in doing so be up-front with them. Let them know that based on the current positions available, the organization wouldn’t be able to hire them. But if circumstances change, they would definitely be considered.

Candidate feedback from this approach has been positive.


GradSift to Exhibit at AAGE Virtual Conference

September 2020


The annual Australian Association of Graduate Employers conference takes place virtually Wednesday Oct 28 to Friday Oct 30.

With the disruption we’ve all experienced over the last 6 months, it’s more important than ever to attend this year’s conference. Learn what’s worked, what hasn’t and the future direction for graduate recruitment. Learn from your peers. But also learn from suppliers whose technology and solutions typically drive innovation in recruitment.

Here are some of the conference topics.
• Best practice engagement and connection for your candidates and graduates
• AI and virtual selection
• Graduate Development Programs for the future
• Well Being at Work – at a time when work and life are integrated in new ways what is well being at work and how do we deliver it for ourselves and our grads?



Switched from Predictive Hire to GradSift

September 2020

One of our newest clients last year used Predictive Hire for their graduate program. But the results left them unconvinced it was a viable ongoing solution. So now, we have another delighted user.

Also the word on the street is that a global employer who announced with much fanfare a few years ago that they were using Pymetrics for graduate recruitment, has quietly walked away.

The reason? Issues around reliability and validity. 


GradSift 2020 Research: Profile of Graduate Extra-Curricular Activities 

August 2020


 New research from GradSift profiled the extra-curricular activities of 10,000 recent graduate program applicants. Women participated in 17% more activities compared to males. 30% of activities were in structured leadership roles. 34% involved gaining functional experience.



Employees More Accessible Working From Home

July 2020

With employees working from home, we hear about improved productivity as people are able to get more work done. But is there data to support that?

Here’s an interesting observation based on the GradSift newsletter. When newsletters went out pre-Covid, around 10% messaged back with auto out-of-office replies. Typically, people were in meetings, training, traveling or on leave. Since Covid, out-of-office replies have dropped to about 4%.

I suspect it's less of all of the above.



Press Release: Technology Drives Productivity in Graduate Recruitment

July 2020

Sydney, Australia. July 9, 2020. -- In Talent Acquisition, recorded candidate video has been a time management win for recruiters. They can watch video interviews whenever it suits them. But they still need to sit through every single video and there are regular stories of recruiters ending up with blurry eyes, especially for high volume graduate roles.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just start with the best candidates? Then, once you’re happy with the shortlist, no more videos to watch. That would be a huge productivity saving.

Recruiters for graduate roles can do this now using GradSift, an integrated shortlisting solution using ai and video.

GradSift CEO Peter Pychtin says “Two out of three large graduate employers rely on recorded candidate video. With the volume of candidates, that can mean a recruiter has to watch hundreds of videos. As one recruiter said to me, I have 500 videos to watch. I’m not looking forward to that”.

Employers already use GradSift ai to accurately screen and rank thousands of graduates in seconds. With the addition of recorded candidate video, it’s made life so much easier for the recruiter who can start with video of the strongest candidates.

Pychtin says “GradSift assesses a candidate’s academics, work experience and achievements together with indicators of cognitive abilities, leadership and interpersonal skills. With candidate video, an employer can assess for verbal communication and candidate interest in their organization. That makes for a very strong shortlist”.

On top of the productivity gains, employers are shortening the recruitment process and reducing costs by eliminating a separate video interview stage. At a time when doing more for less is essential, talent acquisition teams are embracing new solutions.



GradSift Introduces Integrated Candidate Video

June 2020

We're pleased to introduce candidate video feature for an even better integrated graduate assessment.

Employers can now save costs and shorten their recruitment process by eliminating a separate video interview stage. All the while achieving outstanding candidate outcomes.

Employers screen and rank thousands of applications in seconds and rate candidate video for a shortlist of strong, well-rounded candidates. Plus, view automated insights into hired candidate profiles and the effectiveness of their marketing and campus activities.


Video Interview Technology: Becoming a Commodity?

June 2020

We’re seeing more and more video interview options available in the market.

Of course that’s been accelerated by the current shift to virtual interviews, where Zoom has been especially popular. Employers have been forced to rapidly adapt to the technology. They now use it for virtual (interactive) and one-way recorded interviews.

So what does that mean for the one-way recorded interview, commonly used by graduate employers? Its use won’t change. But employers should expect new entrants and competition which will lead to much lower prices. Don't lock in any contracts just yet.


Managing Graduate Preferred Roles 

June 2020

For many graduate programs, degree discipline and personal background make candidates eligible for multiple roles. This is especially so in engineering and Government but also applies across commercial organizations. To accommodate this, employers ask candidates to nominate two or three role/work stream preferences.

On the employer side it’s really clunky to manage. A candidate can receive a notification they’ve been unsuccessful for one role. Yet a few days later be advised they’re moving ahead in the assessment stage for another.

To help employers streamline this process, GradSift has a new feature allowing candidates to list preferences for up to three roles with the employer. It’s simple for employers to use. For a specific role, they view the GradSift screened and ranked candidate list. Then select First Preference to view those candidates and choose their shortlist. If there aren’t enough strong candidates the employer can then select from First and Second Preferences.

To avoid duplication where candidates are shortlisted for more than one role, GradSift automatically alerts the employer. The employer can keep the candidate in the shortlist for one role and remove it from others. Or they can leave the candidate shortlisted for more than one role. Too easy!    


Alternative to Cognitive Ability Testing

May 2020

It’s widely accepted that cognitive ability impacts job performance through job knowledge acquisition. The correlation of the general cognitive ability to overall job performance relationship is 0.51. But in truth, 0.51 isn't that great. It sits just above the threshold for a moderate correlation. Under 0.50 is considered a low correlation! That’s why it’s not recommended to make a candidate decision solely on cognitive ability.

Work sample tests are shown to have a slightly higher mean validity of 0.54. But there is a dependency there. General cognitive ability causes the acquisition of job knowledge and subsequent work sample test performance. So, while a work sample test is a better predictor than cognitive abilities, it’s actually a function of cognitive ability.

In graduate recruitment, the best work sample test is an internship. Given the duration of an internship (and the other attributes being assessed), it should be a much better predictor of job performance than a simple work sample test or a cognitive ability test.

So if cognitive ability causes performance in internships and work sample tests, are there other indicators of cognitive abilities? Consider a student who advances to a supervisory or senior role at work or a leadership position through their extra-curricular commitments.

Cognitive ability has likely contributed to their success. But other personal attributes will have played a part. Problem solving skills and cognitive abilities are together, fundamental for effective leadership. While interpersonal skills and initiative are key behavioral skills required for performance in most organizations.

While cognitive ability is one element to predict job performance, other assessments like GradSift are broader. GradSift evaluates past behavior as a valid indicator of future behavior. In doing so, it assesses for indicators of leadership, initiative and interpersonal skills and through the type of roles students have held, an indicator of their cognitive abilities.


Recruitment Screening and Shortlisting: Business-Not-As-Usual

May 2020

There’s a way to go before we see the economy back up and running. But as employers emerge post-Covid 19, the consistent catch-cry is it won’t be business as usual. That will definitely be true in recruitment. 

Coming out of the global financial crisis employers built their own talent acquisition teams and with ATS technology and LinkedIn Recruiter, achieved substantial cost savings from their previous agency reliant model.

Similar innovation will take place post-Covid-19. But instead of sourcing, what will change will be assessment, especially screening and shortlisting.

The challenge will be how can a smaller talent acquisition team handle much higher applicant volumes? 


Graduate Assessment Integration 

April 2020

The approach to graduate assessment hasn't really changed over the past 20 years. While much of the process has moved online, it's still a "stepped" assessment.  

Each assessment stage still advances or rejects applicants on a single attribute. Yes or no.

Screen applicants for credit grade average or better. Then screen those applicants for a minimum test result. Then screen again on video interview performance.

It's time graduate employers embraced technologies that simultaneously assess multiple attributes. 


Innovate and Adapt

April 2020

 The fallout from coronavirus will be the catalyst for a once-in-a-decade change by employers and HR.

During the 2009 global financial crisis, employers froze recruitment, stopped using recruitment agencies  and brought any activity in-house. It was all about cost reduction. When the economy recovered, it coincided with the broad availability of applicant tracking systems and LinkedIn recruiter. Instead of reverting back to recruitment agencies, employers built their own talent acquisition teams to keep costs down.

It will be the same with coronavirus. Employers will take costs out to keep as lean as possible. As they emerge they will question past practices and be prepared to try new approaches. Newer technologies using artificial intelligence, chatbots, data analytics etc will come to the fore.

That’s where GradSift’s low cost and innovation will create a real advantage. Over the next two months GradSift will be adding functionality for candidate video interview. We will also be introducing GradSift Essentials, a low cost 30 day subscription service.   

We all need to innovate and adapt - just like creating a new routine when the gyms all close!


Graduate Recruitment : Going into a Recession

March 2020

When the economy moves into recession, what happens? It differs by sector. Some, like government, major food retailers, utilities and non-discretionary consumables will see little impact.

But for many organizations there will be big changes. The initial response is to put a freeze on recruitment (followed by lay-offs), cancel consultants and travel and minimize capital spending to essential projects.

We saw this in the GFC in 2008. Back then, organizations regularly used recruitment agencies for general recruitment. With the freeze on recruitment, that function was brought in-house and assigned to HR as there weren’t many jobs to fill.

When the economy improved, organizations kept recruitment in-house, creating internal talent acquisition teams and using (back then) new technologies like Applicant Tracking Systems and LinkedIn Recruiter.

The GFC became a catalyst for change to processes and technologies. There will be a similar outcome as a result of Covid-19.



Most Effective Graduate Marketing Channels - Australia

March 2020    

The AAGE recently released its annual employer survey report.  It asks employers to rank a marketing channel as Extremely Effective, Very Effective, Somewhat Effective, Slightly Effective or Not at All.

At GradSift, we like to take a different approach on interpreting this. We combine the scores for Extremely and Very Effective as a measure of employers who were clearly happy with the results. We then take that score as a proportion of employers who used that channel as a truer measure of effectiveness. 

GradConnection is the winner.

The top 5 channels are GradConnection, Employer Graduate Website, Employer In-house Events, GradAustralia and non-graduate Job Boards such as Seek. 

What's interesting, is that employers would have hard data to assess each of these channels. i.e. the number of visits to their website, the number of applicants from graduate and non-graduate job boards and attendees at their on-site events.

Looking at other channels they become more subjective to evaluate. For example, campus presentations, student scholarships and sponsoring student societies.

There's one point to add in interpreting the data. With an effective rating of 81%, GradConnection helps most employers to achieve very positive outcomes. Their clients know how to use GradConnection to get the results they want.

But that doesn't mean other channels are ineffective. Take LinkedIn as an example. While only 39% rate it as effective, those employers must be using LinkedIn in a way that achieves strong results for them. The challenge for other employers is to find out what that is.  



AI Leader in Graduate Recruitment Shortlisting & Analytics 

February 2020

GradSift is the leading ai application in graduate recruitment shortlisting and post-program analytics. Pleased to say we've just added more Australian Federal Government clients who want better candidate quality, diversity, innovation and lower costs!

Our clients come from a broad range of employer sectors including engineering, energy, technical, construction and property, financial services, general services and government.



Attraction & Assessment Insights

February 2020

Here are some insights from recent discussions with employers, universities and service providers.

Engineering / construction employers have been hit by a downturn in that sector. It was common to hear of company spending / budget cut-backs flowing through to graduate recruitment. While employers weren’t talking about reduced graduate hires, that may happen when those employers reach the crunch time of making offers. That could lead to an increase in the number of available engineering graduates going into the second half of this year.

Innovative employers are hiring non-permanent residents for hard-to-fill graduate roles. While the proportion of employers who do this is still low, it was interesting to see a mix of global, large local employers and even government agencies adopting this strategy. ICT is an obvious target, where international graduates (undergraduate and post-graduate) make up more than half of the pool. What are employers doing? They offer a fixed term contract matching the graduate’s visa expiration. If the graduate gains permanent residency / citizenship by that date, the employer chooses if they want to convert employment to permanent.

65% of graduate employers now use video. Typically, that’s a one-way video and used after screening and shortlisting initial applications. For employers, it can still take a lot of time to watch each video. It’s interesting that outsource providers will watch a candidate’s video response in full before making a decision. Whereas, it sounds like some internal recruiters/HR move on to the next video if the first answer doesn’t measure up.

There’s mixed feedback from students about the video experience. The most common feedback is that they don’t feel the format enables them to present at their best. They would prefer an interactive in-person or phone interview. There were also examples of students sharing an employer’s video questions with their peers to help them prepare.

Push back from universities and employers on the use of cognitive tests to initially screen candidates. This is coming up more often. The reason is most employers don’t have data to validate their cognitive score cut-off as a predictor of success in their organization. Their testing providers can’t really help them other than to say cognitive scores have historically been the best of what’s available.

What they recommend is even questionable. One employer was advised to reject applicants who were in the bottom 30% of cognitive scores. Another employer was advised to only accept the top 30%, i.e. reject the bottom 70%. Of course, the testing providers are the first to say that making decisions on a single test result is flawed. But that’s what a lot of their clients are doing.



Why are Graduate Employers Switching to GradSift?

January 2020


Luckily for us, there are multiple reasons.

Time Saving
For employers who have manually screened, GradSift transforms weeks of effort into just minutes. It also speeds up the recruitment process. One recruiter beamed when she said “I never had to open a resume!” Well, not until their assessment day.

Candidate Quality
Many employers have been dissatisfied with their candidate shortlist particularly after screening with a cognitive test. They know too many candidates with strong interpersonal skills are rejected by that process. The HR graduate lead at a large engineering group wondered "just how many potential hires are we leaving behind?"

Another employer had outsourced screening but wasn’t confident that the right candidates were always getting through. They like GradSift because they can start with a shortlist of strong, well-rounded candidates.

One recruitment manager stated “The quality of hires was excellent. Quite a lot of the #1 or #2 ranked candidates turned out to be the ones we hired”.

A government agency wanted a different approach to achieve a more diverse shortlist.  GradSift gave them the flexibility to view a ranked report of different candidate groups and then select who they’d like to add to the shortlist.

Cost Saving
Some employers need to achieve budget savings without compromising candidate quality. One client had screened and shortlisted using three psychometric tests. By screening with GradSift first and then testing the smaller shortlist, they saved $60,000. When GradSift is a 70% saving compared to a single test, it’s been an easy decision.

Data is the Bonus that Everyone Wants
Everyone loves the data. GradSift’s analytics platform provides automated insights into hired candidate profiles and the effectiveness of an employer’s marketing and campus activities. That’s right down to university level.

One employer was tossing up whether to continue to advertise on both GradConnection and Grad Australia. Their gut feel told them one thing but when they saw the data it caused a serious rethink.


Managing Graduate Recruitment Budget Cuts

January 2020

What do you do when management asks for graduate recruitment budget cut-backs or even head-count reduction? While there may be fewer planned hires, the volume of applications is likely to be unchanged.

An obvious response is to look at the budget for marketing and campus activities. What’s really important is to have data to know what has been effective and what hasn’t. Which channels and activities are most effective in reaching hired candidates? Not just the sources with biggest number of applicants. And what are the activities that don't produce hires.

Can the steps in the assessment process be redesigned? An employer may use psychometric testing as the first step in the assessment process. Can that testing be pushed back later in the process where the volume and cost of testing will be much less? Can an alternative lower cost option replace testing at that first stage? If an employer uses multiple tests (eg. numerical and verbal reasoning) are they both “must-do” tests? In other words, are both results proven indicators of success in the organization?

If there has been head-count reduction in graduate recruitment, are there technologies that allow a smaller team to process and assess the same volume of candidates?

Note, GradSift averages one-third the cost of a single psychometric test and offers significant time savings for graduate recruiters.

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