I recently attended an AGCAS North West training event which provided an overview of current recruitment methods that organisations us when recruiting students and graduates – Psychometric tests, Video interviews, Strength-based interviews, and Assessment Centres

Graduates First Psychometric Tests – Saqib Saddiq


Saqib provided a useful overview of what employers look for and how these can be assessed – companies
aspire to test the three areas below but in reality this is difficult:AGCAS MMU University copy-5 as Smart Object-1

  • LJMU has recently signed up to work with Graduates First to offer their suite of 21 ability tests to students and graduates – 7 numerical. 7 verbal and 7 logical – in addition to a Work Personality Questionnaire (WPQ), Question Identifier Tool (QIT) and a Situational Judgement Test (SJT). The tests provide: personal feedback reports including a normed score, comparing against other students and graduates; answers with step-by-step solutions; a breakdown of how you have performed by areas eg ratios, percentages etc; accuracy and speed guidance; and tips to improve your performance
  • In terms of a “pass rate” the 30th percentile is seen as suitable by Chartered Psychologists although employers can choose an alternative if necessary – “No-one owns the lower end of the normal distribution. At the higher end there can be differences between groups. For example males and females are stronger in different areas – male (numeric) females (verbal)
  • SJTs can have a higher pass rate of around the 50th percentile – advice is to treat each question in isolation and try not to link answers
  • Educational Psychologists recommend 25% additional time for those with a disability – candidates can request this or self disclose on practice tests
  • Ability tests require dedicated practice
  • WPQ can’t be improved but provides an insight
  • SJT can provide insights, but often competencies increase through experiences
  • Assessment hasn’t changed much although there is now a focus on the candidate experience eg length of test, social media etc. through simulations and gaming although these are extremely expensive to develop
  • Saqib suggested that careers services should focus on common/core assessments used by a large number of organisations:
    • Ability tests require dedicated practice
    • WPQ cannot be improved, but provides insights
    • SJT can provide insights, but often competencies increase through experiences
    • Assessment Exercises can also be used to improve performance

Video Interviews – SONRU (Adam Gretton) and MMU Careers (David Nelson)


Adam provided an interesting overview of the SONRU software which is being used by a number of large graduate interviews. The interface appeared straightforward to us and provides both employers and candidates with flexibility. Candidates are able to schedule the interview to suit their availability within the given time-frame. Video interviews are viewed as being a better predictor than a telephone interview.

Adam referred to the latest AGR Evolving Graduate Recruitment Industry survey (2015):

  • Nearly 30% of AGR members use video interviews and of these 27% outsource telephone/video interviewing
  • The IT/Telecoms sector (55%) has the highest use of video interviews followed by Accountancy/Professional Services (50%)

Some of the functionality of the SONRU software includes:

  • Mobile devices can be used for the interview
  • Availability of a practice interview which uses a bank of 15 questions with response times randomised
  • There are no limits to completing a practice test – the average is 6/7 times
  • If the questions are completed early candidates can move on to the next question
  • Employers can use images if required and ask a candidate to comment on a particular issue
  • SONRU recommend a range of 5 to 8 questions to employers with a maximum of 15 minutes completion time – but this is up to employers ultimately
  • Answers can be recorded and saved to account. However, employers usually switch this feature off. This could be a useful tool for careers services.
  • Clients are advised to encourage disclosure and make provisions e.g. time adjustments or enable another person to be in the room
  • Clients (employers and universities) can have short video advice clips e.g. bloopers
  • Advice for candidates:
    • Test your equipment
    • Be aware of screensaver if a long question
    • Think of the environment around you and background
    • Dress appropriately
    • Make eye contact with the camera but appear natural with glancing around every now and again

David Nelson (MMU Careers) mmu_logo_0

David provided an overview of a HECSU funded research project to evaluate the use of video interviews and student perceptions. Video interviews are used in a number of ways at MMU – as an option provided via the careers service, and as assessment method on some courses. For example on the Sports Marketing Management course 64 out of 67 students completed the video interview. Video interviews are also used as the final stage of MMU’s Skills award.


  • MMU students generally didn’t like video interviews
  • Feedback was offered by the careers team but only a minority take this up
  • MMU students looked at video clips but didn’t read any support documents – important to ensure support is simple and accessible
  • In a focus group all (20) students said they preferred a telephone interview to a video interview
  • 53% of students prepared for the video interview


  • 90% of students didn’t view back their video – “I couldn’t think of anything worse!”, “I started watching but it made me really uncomfortable”. A handful did book a careers appointment to review.

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Strength-based Interviews – Jennifer Standish & Richard Brook, FDM fdm_logo

Jennifer and Richard provided a brief overview of FDM and the services that they offer clients. FDM receive a a large number of applications (over 30,000) for the various positions they have available and then filter candidates through: initial screening (20,000); video interview (4,500), assessment centre (3,000) before an offer is made  to approximately 1,500 candidates. Of those who commenced graduate positions 52% were in technical positions and 45% in business. FDM have recently launched a summer internship and sandwich placement programme.

Strength-based recruitment has a simple goal: to find out a candidate’s interests. SBR is still about finding someone who can do the job, but also who will enjoy the role and organisation, and therefore perform better and be more likely to be happy within their career.

Example questions:

  •  In change within an organisation always a good thing?
  • Would you be happy to compromise the quality of your work in order to deliver something more quickly?
  • What modules did you enjoy the most/least and why?
  • Tell me about something you are particularly proud of?
  • Apple or Android and why?
  • Favourite subjects in school?


New developments to recruitment at FDM:

  • Video interviews
  • Gamification in tests
  • Immersive assessment centre activities
  • Candidate feedback and biometrics
  • Algorithmic assessment

FDM are offering new programmes in Rick and Compliance, Business Intelligence and Back to Business. The company is also looking to offer a guaranteed number of offers to their ‘top’ university partners. The Leeds office are looking to recruit 103 graduates in Q3 and 76 in Q4.

Synergy Employability Unit – Simon Pollard, Smart Resourcing Solutions Ltdf8aa62_ea38584be9984495ac1d07d24c3aead8

Synergy is an embedded programme within the Hollings Faculty at MMU which offers programmes in the following areas – fashion, tourism, events and food and nutrition. The programme is based on an assessment and selection simulation process (two days) which is staged at the Etihad stadium and assessed by industry assessors. The programme has received good feedback from staff and students and has helped to support students when applying for summer internships and industry placements.


The above provides an overview of the assessment exercise which is an embedded part of the various programmes. At the assessment centre the exercises used are a group exercise, a presentation and an interview.

The programme has had a number of benefits:

  • Increased the confidence of students entering the graduate jobs market
  • Increased the number of placements secured by the Faculty’s students
  • Increased student satisfaction with the module