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Employer Engagement Employer events Employer Panels Employers EY Graduate recruitment Interviews Skills Strengths-based interviews Uncategorised Virtual recruitment

How to Succeed in Strengths-Based Recruitment

Sarah McKeag, Associate Director for Talent Attraction and Acquisition at EY Belfast

Sarah McKeag, Associate Director for Talent Attraction and Acquisition at EY Belfast talks skills-based recruitment and how it differs from the traditional recruitment process.

About EY

EY are one of the big four professional services firms. We have about 550 staff in Belfast at present and 18,000 staff in 21 offices across the UK. We are traditionally known for bringing staff into their chartered accountancy-based exams, be that an audit business or tax business. We have a large consulting business in Belfast and we bring in students now down different routes, through data analytics, project management, contract and procurement management – so there is a wide opportunity for students at all levels within EY. We are a global organisation in 150 companies worldwide. So, the opportunity for students to move and to travel and gain that vast exposure is there, right on their doorstep in Belfast.

Strengths-based recruitment at EY

We have stepped away from traditional [recruitment] routes, we did this about 10 years ago and we work with an organisation called the Centre For Applied Psychology. They have helped us develop this strength-based recruitment process to assess potential in students. So that is the main difference in strength-based recruitment: we’re not looking for the students to have had work experience or experience in a range of things, we’re looking for the potential they have to become leaders in our business and to become successful in our business.

We review our process every couple of years. We review the strengths we use, the frameworks, to make sure that they are aligned to the people who are performing the highest in our business and then this helps assess this potential in the students coming in. So, if we think about what other employers use, they typically use a competency-based approach and the difference between a strength and a competency-based approach is around the energy and enthusiasm – competency can be learnt, whereas a strength is something where you have that natural enthusiasm and energy around doing. It is something you do well and you do often and you enjoy doing all that time. We use that across all our student recruitment, from the online assessment centre to the final interview. The majority of the strengths we use for EY are the core strengths from across all of our programmes we operate, but when you get to that final interview, we’ll have more focus strengths for the area you applied for. 

Strengths that EY recruit against 

These are the core strengths that we would measure:

Accountable

Agile

Adaptable 

Analytical 

Curious

In the know

Number Savvy

Resilient

Strong Communicator

Team Player

We are not looking for students to have done reams of work experience, we will give them a situation or a task and we will ask them how they would approach that, how they would feel about that, we may give them a number of tasks and ask them to choose their preferred 5 or we may give them a group activity and ask them to evaluate on how they have done in that activity and what they would do differently next time. We want them to have these strengths in their mind, when they are going through our process and think about how would I deal with the situation, what would I rely on to do that?

Curious

For example, if we look at the strength curious, we are looking for people that are always challenging and asking why they are doing something, they are looking for new ways to do something and challenge how something works or what’s driving a change in analytics they see so it is that curious, finding out what’s happening and what’s coming next. 

Adaptable and resilience

I think at the moment adaptable and resilience are particularly important. That’s been huge for the students we have brought on in the past 6 months. But equally for the students that are coming towards their last year in university or starting university in a different way than they had ever envisioned themselves. How can they make the most of the circumstances they are in at the moment? Things are frequently changing so there needs to be a level of resilience so they can manage that change process. So that they don’t get change fatigue, so they can have coping mechanisms for stress management, they know when they are stressed and how to deal with that. 

Number savvy

The number savvy one is not looking for someone that has done further maths or additional maths, however we are a number business and whether that be in data analytics or it be in our audit business, you will be given large volumes or data, sometimes numerical, and you will need to be comfortable working with that. People have to have a level of comfort around that, and understand what drives business or what drives our customers businesses as well. 

Team Player

The team player one, we will assess on our EY experience day in our new virtual assessment. This is a really good way at seeing everyone’s energy and how they interact withing a group. In our business you will work in teams and they can be small teams up to very large teams. So you need to have an understanding of how to integrate into a team, what roles you tend to take on, what your strengths are. You do not need to be the leader of that group, quite often you just need to be the person who focusses that group or remembers to bring the group back to a certain point or build on someone else’s idea. We are not looking for the person who talks the most or loudest, but the person who brings the most value to the group, this may be bringing in people who are more quiet in the group or bringing a focus back to the task at hand. We also need those people who start the group off, who get everyone focussed on the task.

Prepping for a virtual strengths-based interview

Make sure your technology works

Make sure you’re comfortable to come on camera

Don’t forget you can blur your background in video’s if it makes you feel more comfortable

We want to see your face and your interaction

Virtual interviews are different from face to face as that rapport takes a bit longer to build up, however our assessors are very comfortable coming on to the camera

Make sure your WIFI is as strong as it can be

Make sure you will not get interrupted

Make sure you do all your prep work before hand

Identify your strengths

For identifying their strengths, particularly before the final interview stage, and you’re thinking about the job that you are going in to, quite often it quite difficult to identify your own strengths but if you think about your energy level – something you do well, you do often and you enjoy doing. It might not be the first thing on your list as you know you can do it in 5 minutes, it could be the thing you treat yourself to or the thing you do first because you know you can do it in 5 minutes. It will be the thing your friends always ask you to do, it will be the role you always find yourself in in any camp or society – so if you’re really good with numbers, you’ll find yourself with the treasurer, if you’re very analytical, people will come to you with their problems to find a solution. The things your friends say you never shut up about as well or something you can talk about for ages.

We will give you a situation or tell you a bit about the area you applied to, a bit about the strengths that they look for and then we will ask you about the situation and what you would find yourself doing if you were in that situation.

In our final interview stages, there is a short presentation which we ask the candidates to do and that should be your opportunity to do a little bit of research around EY and that line of service you have applied for. The final thing would be around motivation. You will be interviewed by a partner or director, who is an owner of our business, and they will want to know why you wanted to apply to EY, why you have applied to that particular area, as that is the part they own. It is really your opportunity to show the research you have done into the business and into the pathway you have applied for. There is plenty of information on our website. 

What is a good question for a candidate to ask at the end of the interview?

I personally think you should always ask a question at the end of an interview. You should by that stage, have built up a rapport with the interviewer, the questions I would tell you to absolutely avoid would be around salary and benefits, as this information is all on our website. There is plenty of time to ask the recruitment team prior to the final interview. 

Our interviewers have typically been in the business for a number of years and have had a number of interesting career paths to that point. Questions I would focus on at the end of the interview would be around what is the best client they have worked on, what has been the most challenging client they have worked on, what has been their career path to date or what has been their most interesting role in the organisation. There’s lots of questions related to the company they can ask us. A lot of questions we are being asked at the moment are about the returns to the office and how we engaged with our teams remotely and what were the biggest challenges. The partners are really open to hear from new graduates about what would work and what they would need to see coming into the business and they are keen to know what they can do.

A question at the end of the interview is an opportunity for the candidate to get a view on if they see themself working for this person? Do they want to work on their team? Do they inspire them as a leader? That is what they should be thinking about shaping their questions around if I was coming in. 

I found that it was because of the people who interviewed me that made me join, we built a rapport, we had a good chat and we quite often get feed back that our interviews don’t feel very formal and they turn out as more of a chat. When I got the offer, I made the decision because I really enjoyed the people from the company. 

For students, you need to think about what you need to know to be on that team and what else you need to know about the leader of that team you will be joining. 

To find out more about careers at EY, apply for the Discover EY programme by Nov 30.

Categories
Humour Interviews Virtual recruitment

“I accidentally did a virtual job interview in a towel”

One Queen’s alumna (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) reveals the mistake she made during a recent virtual interview.

“I was due to sit an automated virtual job interview with a big company. I got a shower, washed my hair and wrapped a towel around my wet hair while I did my make-up. With my dressing gown on and the towel still wrapped around my head, I thought I’d jump online and complete the mock interview the company had sent me in preparation for the interview proper. My intention was to dry my hair and get dressed into my interview outfit after completing the mock.

What I didn’t realise was that the mock interview automatically sent you in to the live recording of your actual virtual interview straight afterwards.

“I had no choice but to see it through and attempt to answer the interview questions on camera wearing my dressing gown and a towel on my head!

“It was mortifying to say the least. And no, I didn’t get the job!”

For top tips on doing virtual recruitment the right way read this next:

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Alumni Employers Finance Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduate training schemes Law Virtual recruitment

My Virtual Recruitment Success Secrets

Queen’s Law graduate Norma Taggart just secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after a rigorous virtual recruitment process. Here is how she did it.

Norma Taggart

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the recruitment process as employers are forced to shift away from in-person interviews to online recruitment methods. Many businesses have had to quickly become accustomed to online recruiting by using video software and telephone interviews instead of the traditional styles of interviewing. This new approach to recruitment can be daunting to a student or graduate who has not been exposed to this process before. 

However, if the idea of online recruitment intimidates you, I recommend viewing it as an opportunity to upskill rather than as a challenge. By going through the online recruitment process, I have learned how to use numerous video call software, such as Zoom and Bluejeans and have developed my ability to adapt to a changing work environment. As the world becomes more tech savvy and firms are transitioning to remote working, these technological skills will become highly sought after. Students and graduates that have a proficiency in software such as these will stand apart from the crowd.  

I gained first-hand insight into this process as I have recently secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after completing their 6-week FinTrU Legal Academy. FinTrU is a multi-award winning financial services company that gives local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. The company conducted three stages of recruitment in order to fill the positions, thus I went through virtual recruitment as opposed to the traditional recruitment process. Although it was a daunting idea at first, I have learned valuable tips and tricks to nail a video interview and get the job. 

How to Get the Interview and Succeed 

The first step in succeeding in the virtual recruitment process is to utilise the Queen’s Careers team. The Careers Department have been an invaluable resource in preparing me for both recruitment and the world of work. The Careers Team support students and graduates with all aspects of career planning and decision making. They offer practical, tailored advice for every step of your career journey. My advice is to seek their help long before you need to start applying for internships, graduate jobs or placement. 

I was fortunate enough to work as a student assistant in the Student Guidance Centre where I witnessed first-hand the amount of work that goes towards helping students get ready for the world of work. I took part in CV workshops and one-to-one CV sessions with experienced Career Consultants where I was able to tailor my CV to the industry I was applying to. Your CV is the first impression you make to an employer; therefore, it is important it is up to date and well laid out. 

The Graduate and Placement Fairs organised by Queen’s Careers Team are an excellent source of information for students and graduates. I recommend going to as many as you can throughout your time at Queen’s as they give you insight into both the industries you are interested in and the ones you are not. For example, I did an undergraduate degree in Law which often has a very traditional career path associated with it. The Graduate Fair, alongside employer panels, insight days and employer presentations organised by the Careers team, allowed me to become more open-minded to different career routes available and develop my skill set beyond strictly legal skills. Therefore, when the opportunity arose for me to apply for a career in the financial services sector, I knew I was capable of adapting and succeeding as an analyst.

MyFuture also can act as a vital tool in your job search as it is constantly updated with new opportunities and it is where you can book Career Consultations with experienced members of the Careers Team. Participating in different employability programmes and events will make you more of a well-rounded candidate and show employers that you are not afraid to go outside your comfort zone. The Careers Team are there to help you in every stage of your job hunt, therefore I recommend taking advantage of their help as soon as possible. 

Tips for Virtual Recruitment 

The virtual recruitment process for the FinTrU Legal Academy consisted of an online application where you expressed why you want to work in the financial services sector and for FinTrU specifically. The second round of the recruitment was a telephone call and the final round was a video interview conducted over a software called Bluejeans.

I had never done a live video or telephone interview before. It was daunting as it is difficult to convey the same enthusiasm over a phone or webcam than when you meet the recruiter in person. Technology can also be temperamental so I was aware that a lot could go wrong. To combat these concerns, my top tip for the next student taking part in virtual recruitment is to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be and the more you can focus on the task at hand. 

In preparation for the interview, get familiar with the job description and the specific skills they are looking for in a successful candidate. You can familiarise yourself with the company and its employees by attending graduate fairs, industry insight days and employer panels. Using the STAR method, identify times throughout your career where you have used or developed the skills in the job description. This will show the interviewer that you have a number of transferable skills that will benefit their company if you were to get the job. 

On the day of the interview, log onto the software early to download it and test your internet connection. Confirm that your camera and microphone are working as soon as you agree to the interview. I made the mistake of waiting until it was time for the interview to click the link to join. I then had to download the software which made me stressed before the interview even began. The more you do to mitigate stress before the interview, the more comfortable you will feel. 

Set up a space in your house where you will not be disturbed and ensure that the lighting is appropriate. If the interview begins and you realise that they cannot see you properly, this will put you on edge and you will lose your concentration on answering questions. If you are in a well-lit area without distractions, it will also show the hiring manager that you are professional and taking the interview seriously. 

You should not memorise answers to questions as this will come across impersonal and rehearsed. One of the benefits of a virtual interview is that it allows you to have your CV and notes beside you. Utilise this to your advantage and have your preparation close by. Employers will go through your CV in depth so make sure you have it nearby so that you can reference it in answers. 

Do not forget to dress to impress. Even though the interview is being conducted online, employers still expect you to look presentable and interview ready. This is good practice for when you get the job as clients and senior management will expect the same level of professionalism when you are working alongside them, whether that is online or in person. 

One obstacle associated with virtual recruitment is that it can feel impersonal. It is difficult to express your enthusiasm for the job when it is over a webcam. You cannot shake the interviewer’s hand over a webcam; therefore, it is essential that you monitor your body language. It is important to sit up straight and look into the camera when speaking and not at the screen. Ask a friend or family member to run through possible questions with you over a Zoom call so that you can get feedback on both your answers and the impression you make with your body language. 

Know your chosen employer inside out and stay up to date with the industry. I attended numerous employer panels where I was given the opportunity to ask questions about the world of work and the skill sets needed to succeed. I was told to stay informed with the industry I want to go into by reading the news, following relevant outlets on LinkedIn and keeping an eye on exciting developments in the area I was looking to qualify in. By doing this, you can display your enthusiasm for the industry by asking the interviewer relevant and informed questions. 

Join Norma at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 22 Oct for more top tips.

Register here: https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

 

Categories
Deloitte Employer events Employers Events EY Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair PwC Skills Virtual recruitment

Four Cool Things happening in Graduate Recruitment Right Now

The graduate job market looks a little different this year, but the era of remote working has paved the way for tech advances in the way companies recruit students. For starters, Queen’s Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair is going digital this year allowing you to browse employers’ virtual stalls, watch company videos and find out what it might be like to work at a particular company – all from your laptop. Here, some recruiting companies who have flexed the way they recruit to meet the challenges of virtual recruiting.

1.Employer-led online skills sessions

Accessing training with experts from top companies is just a click of a button away. Take Deloitte who are running skills sessions online throughout Autumn. Available to watch live or on demand, topics covered include building confidence, research and communication – all skills that will stand you in good stead in the future.

Get more information and register via our events page

2.Immersive company experiences

The digital world allows you to get under the skin of a company and get a feel for what it’s really like to work there. Take EY – they are running a Build Your EY Experience Week from 5-9 October. With a live welcome address from their partners, the week promises insight into the people, clients and culture that make the company unique.

Get more information and register via our events page

3.Virtual recruitment ‘parks’

Imagine creating a virtual avatar that can virtually walk around a company, meet the people who work there and take part in events. Sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi movie but PwC’s Virtual Park allows you to do just that.

Discover more information and register.

4.Live chats with employers 

There are more opportunities than ever to live chat potential bosses. At Queen’s Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, employers can filter candidates by their student profiles and invite candidates with the skills they are looking for into a live chat or video call. Make sure you stand out by completing your online profile in as much detail as possible.

Register now via Graduateland.