The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 14: Automotive Graduate Grief

with 2 comments


As the mother of 2 students who will very shortly be entering the job market, I have a very soft spot for Graduate recruitment.  I always try my best to give them all the best possible opportunity of giving the best possible account of themselves. After all, starting a career is the most important element of adult life.

There are so few opportunities that allow graduates to pursue the subject matter they studied, and when these do become available the competition is fierce! So why do those graduates that manage to get through the process let themselves down so badly?

Over the past 4 weeks, I have managed recruitment for an entry-level role into the Commercial organisation of one of the world’s largest automotive component manufacturers. It is an absolutely wonderful opportunity for a fresh graduate to gain immediate and hands-on experience and training, dealing directly with the Vehicle Manufacturers in a Tier 1 supply context. Not only does the role open excellent career opportunities into either the engineering or Commercial routes, the base salary is fixed in the Mid £20k’s and there is a company car offered  in the package.

It wasn’t difficult to get a good candidate pool: Over 300 graduates applied to the online advertisements. It took weeks to screen every one equally, ensuring the base criteria of e.g. a driving license and work visa were in place and then finally, to select the best 14 candidates for telephone interviews.

After all, there is only one job available so the ideal was to pare the list down to 7  for face to face interviews.

They were all given exactly the same preparation. What they didn’t know, was that the instructions were part of the screening process. All they had to do, was call a given number at a specific date and time for an informal chat. They all accepted the suggested date and time and, in some cases, proved some well-placed initiative by asking for information beforehand (An extra tick in the box, there.)

Out of the 14, one emailed the day before to say that he had changed his mind about the location. I appreciated that.

Out of the remaining 13, only 8 managed to call at the time indicated. The rest didn’t call at all, totally wasting the time I had set aside. One chap called me 4 hours later but of course I had to decline the interview. If he couldn’t be on time for me, what would he do with my client? Another one emailed 2 hours after the designated time to say he was sorry but something came up and he needed to reschedule. I could only assume that, as his interview was scheduled for 9 in the morning, he had overslept. Again, I had to decline.

This of course made my job a whole lot easier – The calibre of these candidates, indicated by the tardiness of their response, would have made them unsuitable anyway.

But the whole process makes me question the quality and commitment of the graduate population. Given that so many applied, I am confused about why they didn’t grab this excellent opportunity with both hands. Jobs like this one don’t come about that often, and I feel sorry for those candidates who did not make it through to the telephone interview because they might have been more committed.  Sadly, they didn’t tick the other boxes though.

I wonder whether the universities should give graduates more support in terms of their opportunities and how to maximise them? Lost opportunities can never be retrieved.

Sadly, I don’t think they realise this.

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2 Responses

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  1. I completely agree Cathy. The problem I have with graduates is often that they will go through the whole pre-screening process with me, then fail to show for the interview, never to be seen or heard from again!
    It’s almost as if they want to the job but then bottle out at the last minute because they panic. This is a great shame as I have often spent a lot of time with them, prepping them for the interview, and I know they would be good within that particular position.
    Maybe universities do need to offer more support, or at least more resources for graduates taking steps into employment.

    searchfieldhaze

    August 31, 2010 at 10:58 am

    • Thanks for the positive comment Hazel. My children are now young adults who are completing uni and I despair at the lack of support they get about how to launch their careers. I find grad recruitment particularly challenging!

      Cathy Richardson

      September 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm


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