Interviewing and screening school leavers: How to get the best out of younger talent

Interviewing and screening school leavers: How to get the best out of younger talent

In the UK right now there is an excess of 1,034,000 job vacancies, and while vacancy numbers are decreasing month on month, it’s still representing a major problem for businesses and the economy. Therefore, many employers are widening their employment nets, and school leavers and young applicants play a vital role in filling gaps and gaining experience and training for the future.

However, dealing with young candidates requires a different approach to the interviewing and screening process, as opposed to hiring for more senior positions. Here are our recommendations for how to approach interviewing and screening school leavers, and getting the best out of younger talent.

Be clear of your expectations

New school leavers have limited experience of employment, if any. So it’s important to lay out exactly how the application and interview process will play out, what you’re looking for, and what you’re expecting at each stage. This means that you’re more likely to see candidates’ strengths and learn more about them, beyond how they handle their first interview process.

Be realistic

It also important to ensure you are realistic in your expectations. The experience that school leavers have may be limited to Saturday jobs, work experience placements, and weekend volunteering. It’s unreasonable to expect a fully rounded employee with all of the expected soft and hard skills already in place.

If you’re employing young candidates, expect to provide a lot of on-the-job training, and be aware that they are still developing not only as workers but as people too. Their interview skills will most likely need work, as will their interpersonal and judgement skills.

Hiring a young school leaver is an investment in your company’s future workforce, so it’s important to look for potential, instead of hard skills.

Avoid jargon

If you want to coax the best out of young applicants, using plain and easily understood language is important. Alienating and confusing candidates through the use of industry terms or specialist language will not help you to identify candidates with the most potential. Therefore, try to explain any jargon that is unavoidable and use clear language otherwise.

Explain the benefits

As with any candidate, being clear on what the company can offer a new employee is important with school leavers, too. As younger candidates, they might be very clear on where they want to be in the future, while others might still be exploring their options. Being clear on the potential trajectory of a position, the pathways it can lead to, and the training they can benefit from can ensure your candidates are engaged, motivated, and more likely to stay with the company for longer.

Provide digital options

Today’s school leavers don’t remember a time before smartphones were commonplace, and have grown up with and around digital technology. While this means they’re likely to be an asset to your company in terms of mastering your tech, it also means they have high expectations of technology usage in the workplace, too.

Providing digital options for applying, interviewing, and screening will appeal to younger candidates, as well as offering benefits to you as an employer. Adopting the use of online interviews allows young candidates to control their own environment and save on travel and clothing costs, while employers can save time and money on booking space, and ensuring busy interview panellists are in the same room at the same time. Additionally, digital screening and checks, including Digital Right to Work Checks, have been shown to be quicker and more secure.

Promote inclusivity

The world is embracing inclusivity and diversity, and younger generations are at the forefront of this. To get the most out of younger candidates (and to reap the rewards of a more diverse workforce) it’s important to have in place inclusivity and diversity policies, as well as present an accepting and open employer brand.

This most likely won’t mean you need to overhaul your whole company, but it’s important to make sure that policy and systems are in place to promote a inclusive workplace, and ensure you’re on top of any behaviour or attitudes that might drive new talent away or be seen as unacceptable.

Keep in contact

When interviewing school leavers, you’re meeting candidates at the very beginning of their employment journey. Those who are not right for the position now are more than likely going to build their skills and develop as people before the next vacancy needs to be filled, so it’s a good idea to keep in touch with candidates and build a talent pool, and encourage them to apply for future positions.

Do this by building a dedicated mailing list for applicants, and send them regular updates about vacancies, as well as content on how to apply, good interview technique, and other useful information.

How can Reed Screening help?

While younger talent has a shorter history to check, it’s still important to make sure that your new hires’ backgrounds won’t put your business at risk.

With over 60 years of experience in recruitment, and over 9 years’ experience as screening specialists, Reed Screening is ideally placed to advise your business on the best way to ensure that new hires are a boost to your company’s performance.