In a serious case of life reflecting fantasy, one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms has transformed its student recruitment process into an episode of Alan Sugar’s gameshow. According to reports last week, the powers that be at EY are scrapping the final interview stage when they recruit students to the firm, replacing it with something they’re calling ‘an assessment event’.
To me, that sounds more like one of the hair-brained tasks that Lord Sugar sets for his bunch of business wannabes as they trawl around cities searching for bizarre items like cloches or octopuses with a 40 ft hose (I’ve been told that’s scuba diving equipment, not a sea creature!)
Apparently, the EY event will include eight separate activities throughout one day with five appraisers acting in the Karen and Claude roles to help make the ‘you’re hired’ decision.
Is EY right to scrap interviews for grads?
You couldn’t make it up! And, so they couldn’t be accused of just taking inspiration from sitting in front of the telly at 9pm on a Wednesday, EY commissioned some research into young people’s attitudes to the recruitment process, which has influenced this change in approach.
Among the responses was the belief that just under half of those questioned wanted better feedback from their involvement in the process.
But more concerning was the response from just under a third of young people who thought the process was too stressful. Talk about perpetuating the myth of the so-called ‘snowflake’ generation.
“Life is never easy and, on occasions it’s tough, but that doesn’t mean shying away from challenging situations. Sometimes it’s the hard things that bring the greatest rewards.”
And I am sure working in a big four accountants isn’t always plain sailing, so why insulate candidates during the recruitment process because, when they’re exposed to life in the real workplace, they’ll just crumble?
– That can only lead to a high turnover of staff, which is not good for the business or individuals.
Of course, this might also be another reason for scrapping the interview stage.
Where I do have a little sympathy with the students applying to EY is that 21% said the whole process was too time-consuming.
In my experience, a decision can be made within the first 15 seconds of meeting a potential employee.
“Attitude and whether they fit with the company ethos can be spotted quickly if the interviewer is perceptive enough. So, with some clever and open questioning, it’s job done.”
It’s something that has worked well for me since I founded Pimlico Plumbers and I encourage my HR team to use the same approach before they get into a more detailed interview.
One thing I am certain of is that there’s no need for a second or third interview if the employer is doing its job properly. And it doesn’t matter if they’re a city accountant or an SME.
Overcomplicating the process isn’t a productive use of anyone’s time, especially those that want to make their own version of a TV show featuring a load of headless chickens running around London trying to please a Lord!
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