There is an eclectic range of interview questions that you can ask your candidates – the question is: which shouldn’t you ask?

Your interview questions should be specific to the role, and the value that the candidate can bring to the role. You should only ask them personal questions if the job role demands it – other than that, you should steer clear of them completely.

In an interview, the last thing you want to do is give the candidate the impression that you are discriminating against them – or, that you are assessing them using meaningless details.

If word gets around that your Company discriminates during interviews – your reputation will take a serious hit. This could mean that you receive lower quality applicants, and you have access to a much smaller talent pool. In other words – if you are known to discriminate, your recruitment goals will be much harder to achieve.

There are certain questions that you should, generally, avoid:

  1. “How old are you?”

Are you familiar with the phrase: “you should never ask a woman her age”? Well, this applies when you’re interviewing candidates. That’s not to say that this only applies to your female candidates – it doesn’t. This rule applies generally, to all of your candidates.

Why? First of all, they may get offended by you asking them such a personal question. Second of all, it doesn’t really matter! Their age will not take away from how suitable they are to the role – it shouldn’t even cross your mind. You don’t want them to get the impression that this is important to their application – this reflects negatively on your employer brand.

  1. “How far do you have to travel to work?”

Many interviewers feel as though this question is perfectly acceptable to ask. And, in some cases, asking a slight variation can be fine – “are you able to start work at 9am, and finish at 5pm?”, for example.

However, it could give the candidate the impression that it will come into consideration with their application. You don’t want them to feel as though their commute will impact their application negatively, and that the person closest to the office is more likely to be offered the job.

  1. “Where are you from?”

There’s no subtle way of asking this question – it just comes across as rude. Their nationality should not have any bearing on their application, so you don’t need to know it.

However, you are allowed to ask if they’re legally authorised to work in the UK – because, for legal reasons, you need to know this. However, their exact nationality isn’t important.

Asking this question could get you into a lot of trouble. Imagine: you ask a candidate where they’re from, then they don’t get the job. What are they going to think? Whatever it is – it won’t be good for your reputation.

  1. “Are you married?”

This is an extremely personal question, and should be avoided at all costs. First of all, the candidate may interpret this question as your subtle way of asking about their sexual orientation – another question which should never be asked. This can make the candidate feel awkward, and give the wrong impression of your company culture.

Second of all, the candidate may feel as though you’re trying to… you know… hit on them. Which, of course, is extremely unprofessional. To maintain a professional exterior, and the impression that you are a fair company – don’t do it.

  1. “Do you have/do you intend to have children?”

Under no circumstances should you ask a candidate if they have children, or if they plan to have children in the future. Asking this question can give the candidate the impression that it will impact their application negatively – that you discriminate against individuals with children.

How? First of all, they may think that you, as the employer, will assume they will need to work fewer hours because of their children. Second of all, they may get the impression that you won’t hire them because they’ll be taking maternity/paternity leave at some point in the future. Both of which will severely impact your employer brand and reputation.

Above are just 5 of the questions that you shouldn’t ask your candidates – there are plenty more. Before you even post the job advert, you should have a clear set of questions that you’ll ask the successful candidates – which have been signed off by a number of different people.

Put yourself in their shoes – what would you think, if you were asked one of the above questions?


We’d love to hear about any interview questions you’ve been asked, that you felt were completely unnecessary. Comment below!


7 Steps to the best Recruitment Campaign ever


Measure Success for Graduate Recruitment Process

Measuring Success is important for your Graduate Recruitment Process

It’s essential, with your Graduate Recruitment Campaign, to measure success – especially if you are to improve your outcomes, year-on-year.

Measuring everything isn’t always as beneficial as you may think. If you are time-poor, and thin on resources – which metrics are likely to give you the most meaningful data?

  • Offer Rejection Rate

How many offers do you make to Graduates that, subsequently, get turned down? Rejection rates are higher than ever before – our own research suggests that this is partly down to parental influence –and, across all of the 2015/16 Graduate Recruitment Schemes we delivered, average rejection rates stand at 26%. If your level of rejected offers seems to be abnormally high, you should spend some time trying to understand why. This evidence is key to understanding why your offer is less compelling than others.

  • Assessment Centre to Offer Ratio

Staying on the topic of offers – how many candidates do you assess, at the final stage of the process, for each role? From previous experience, we work on a ratio of 3 candidates to every one vacancy (3:1). Assessment centres require a large investment of resource, and can prolong the recruitment process. So, if you are inviting far more Graduates to assessment centres than our suggested ratio – perhaps your pre-screening and shortlisting process isn’t working hard enough for you.

  • Cycle Times and Withdrawal Rates

As a general rule of thumb: the longer your cycle times, the greater your risk of experiencing a high level of withdrawals. In our experience, Graduate employers who act fast are more likely to keep candidates engaged throughout the recruitment process. So, taking the time to understand the bottlenecks in your Graduate Recruitment Process can help you speed things up – but, be careful not to sacrifice quality at each stage.

  • Incomplete Applications

High levels of incomplete applications might be cause for concern. Understanding exactly what is driving this is not easy. However, empathising with your Graduates may help you to pick up on a few things: long, arduous application forms; less than impressive Glassdoor reviews; poor quality recruitment collateral – all of these factors influence how Graduates perceive your company.

So, how successful is your Graduate Recruitment Process?

Determining the success of your Graduate Recruitment Process is important, and assigning specific metrics will help you to understand how well your Graduate Recruitment Process is working. Success can come in many forms – it’s important to first decide what you believe constitutes success, when it comes to your Graduate Recruitment Process, before you begin to measure success.

We’d love to hear how successful your processes are, and which metrics you use to measure this. Let us know in the comments below!


Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment

Best time to start hiring Graduates

The best time to start hiring Graduate? Now!

We’ve already provided you with information on; the benefits of recruiting Graduates; the cost of recruiting Graduates; the best ways of assessing Graduates, and; how long it will take you to assess each Graduate application.

So, you may have put some serious consideration into whether or not you want a Graduate Recruitment Programme.

The missing piece of the puzzle – actually making it happen. This is something that you’d like to know, right?

The first point that I would like to make, is that it’s so important to go live with your Graduate Recruitment Programme at the best time – this will give you access to the full talent pool. Not only this, but you also need to be in line with your competition – you don’t want them to have the opportunity to pick out the best candidates, and leave you with fewer to choose from.

With that being said, from experience with our Graduate clients – we tend to find that the best time to go live is the middle to end of September. However, this may vary slightly depending on your industry.

Now, why do you think that is?

Well – students are a proactive bunch, and they’ll probably begin looking for a Graduate job as soon as they get back to University for their final year.

This is an opportunity that you should capitalise on.

Advertising your roles at the best time will mean that you can catch the most proactive students, and start assessing those applications as early as possible.

The last thing that you would want, is to go live too late. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. You don’t want to have hundreds of applications, that need to be assessed within a short period of time – think about the strain on your resource
  2. You don’t want candidates to be dropping out partway through the process, because they’ve received offers from elsewhere – think about the value of your time
  3. You don’t want a last-minute, ‘hit-and-hope’ type candidate, that you recruit because they just about scrape through each stage, and you need to fill the role – think about the personality profile of the candidate that you want – do you want someone proactive, or reactive?

Just to round everything up…

We have received the best results from our Graduate clients that have gone live with their Programme’s around the middle-to-end of September. Their results have come in the form of applications and hires. However, they have also found that the hires they make tend to be more driven and committed to do well in their Graduate role.

In short – start early; reap the rewards.


We’d love for you to share the experiences that you have had, and if you have found any of the information in this blog useful.

Please, comment below!


Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment

What methods allow me to asses a Graduate the best?

What methods allow me to assess a Graduate the best?


“4 out of 5 hiring managers would not go back to telephone interviewing having video interviewed candidates”

David Dewey, Shortlister


The above is one of the stand-out figures from a survey conducted by Shortlister – one of the UK’s leading video interviewing platforms.

Video interviewing is becoming the adopted screening and assessment method for HR teams across the UK. But, why does it work so well for Graduate Recruitment?

We asked Debbie Edmondson, Talent Director at Cohesion, to share her views on typical Graduate Recruitment Processes:

  • Online application form

This tends to be the first step in most Graduate Recruitment Processes. However, we know that candidates do not like to fill them out! In recent years, the Graduate market has become more candidate-driven. So, companies have had to adapt their online forms to make them shorter and simpler to use – so as not to dissuade a candidate from applying.

With the developments in technology, we’ve also seen a huge increase in candidates accessing and completing online forms via their smart phones, rather than via a laptop/PC. This has meant employers have had to update their systems to accommodate this, and adapt their forms to gather information in alternative ways.

Regardless of how simple your initial online application process is though, it cannot be used in isolation to assess a candidate – all you are ultimately doing is assessing how well they can fill out a form.

  • Telephone Interviewing

This is one of the most common assessment methods for any Graduate Programme. The ability to ask competency questions and assess a candidates motivation for the role, are just two of the reasons why it’s used by so many. The benefits of telephone interviewing allow you to decide, not just if they’ll be suitable for the job, but if they’ll fit in with your company community.

One of the biggest advantages of telephone interviewing is that it allows you to probe the candidate, and ask for further elaboration on questions. This adds value by allowing you to explore the candidates’ answers in more depth.

With this method, it’s a question of whether or not the benefits justify the use of the resource. Telephone interviewing doesn’t allow you to assess the candidates’ personality, presence or body language. They tend to be time-consuming and, often, candidates’ availability to conduct a telephone interview doesn’t match with your recruitment team’s availability.

  • Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing supports other recruitment processes by allowing you to assess a candidates’ competence in a particular skill – typically verbal reasoning or numerical ability. These tend to feature timed tests, and results are assessed against a ‘norm group’ made up of people matching a similar profile.

For a specialised or technical role, e.g. finance based, psychometric testing proves a level of competence required and therefore supports the recruitment process. However, many companies are now questioning their relevance, and long-term prediction of performance.

Organisations are also now seeing the benefits of opening up their recruitment criteria to a wider pool of candidates, understanding that social mobility factors which have previously excluded some candidates from applying for roles, means they are perhaps missing out on good talent.

  • Gamification

Gamification is one of the more fun, interactive methods of assessing your Graduates – it uses game theory, mechanics and decision in non-gaming environments and situations. This is why it can be used for recruitment purposes. Gamification, unlike any of the other methods we’ve explored, seeks to explore the personality of the candidate in more depth – it can be used as an alternative to Situational Judgement Tests, or Personality Questionnaires.

One of the main advantages of incorporating Gamification into your recruitment process, is that it allows you to assess your Graduates without them needing to complete a lengthy questionnaire. Essentially, the game that the candidate plays is the test – there are multiple points during the game, at which you collect data on the personality traits of the candidate – based upon the decisions that they make in the game. This can exhibit traits, such as resilience, risk propensity and innovation potential.

Gamification is not a method that can be used on its own – ideally, it’s used in conjunction with other methods. This is because, on its own, you can only assess the candidates’ personality – as opposed to their suitability to the job, your organisation or their strengths, for example.

  • Video Interviewing

In my opinion, this is one of the most effective and efficient methods for assessing your Graduates. Like the telephone interview, it allows you to gauge competence and motivation, but also allows you to see their gravitas and enthusiasm demonstrated for your company.

One of the main advantages of this method is that you can judge candidates on their visible confidence and their non-verbal communications – as well as the above. This can be advantageous – it allows you to judge their mannerisms and how they physically conduct themselves, rather than just their telephone etiquette.  You can see how well they think on their feet and react to pressure – things you can’t always get from a telephone interview.

The flexibility of the solution allows candidates to complete the video at a time that suits them, and requires less resource from your recruiting teams than telephone interviewing. You really get a feel for how someone demonstrates their strengths; you can actually see their passion and enthusiasm shine.

We know, from the data gathered across our whole client base, that video interviewing is the best predictor of success at final interview/assessment centre stage, and this has been across a variety roles.

With this knowledge we are adjusting our processes to ensure that more candidates have the opportunity to undertake video interviews, and not get discounted at online form stage – which, alone, is not a great predictor of success.

We’d love to hear about any issues that you have faced with the methods that you currently use, and any feedback on the usefulness of this blog.


Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment

Cost of recruiting Graduates

Cost of recruiting Graduates

You’ve built your case on why you think your company should hire Graduates; you’ve taken steps to understand the competition – now, you need to know how much you can expect it to cost you.

Recruiting Graduates, like recruiting any employee, is an investment – the size of which is influenced by a number of factors. One of these factors, that needs to be considered, is cost.

So, when calculating how much a Graduate Recruitment Programme might cost you, consider the following factors:

  • The scale

An obvious place to start – the cost of running your own Graduate Programme will vary in line with your hiring projections – the more you want to hire; the greater the related cost. Determining how many Graduates that you would like to recruit each year will allow you to arrive at a relative figure based on salary and benefits.

According to the High Fliers Graduate Market Report, the average salary that a Times Top 100 Employer would expect to pay a Graduate is £30,000. The Associate of Graduate Recruiters, on the other hand, quotes around £29,000.

  • The “lifetime value”

All employees have a “lifetime value”. Graduates are no different. However, HR teams often miss the opportunity to do some thinking into how long they can expect a Graduate to stay with the organisation. Arguably, the longer a Graduate intends on being at your company – the greater their “lifetime value”.

The secret to maximising a Graduates’ “lifetime value” lies partly in the development opportunities that they have access to – if there aren’t many, and your employees aren’t being pushed, stretched and challenged, they it’s likely that Graduates will have a short-tenure, and their “lifetime value” will be low.

  • The internal Opportunity Cost

Conducting a Graduate Recruitment Programme through an internal HR team might bear an opportunity cost – which HR projects and initiatives are put on hold whilst the team is focused on recruiting to the Graduate Programme? This isn’t always a cost that can be monetised. Consider the impact that not solving other HR issues might have – this will help you get a view on the opportunity cost.

  • The external Recruiting Costs

If you cannot commit to investing a large amount of time and internal HR resources into your Graduate Recruitment Programme – then, you might consider external options.

One of these options is using recruitment agencies. To many, the premium cost of agencies can be enough to put them off. However, a good agency can source a lot of value Graduates. On the downside, the candidates aren’t yours exclusively. Candidates aren’t exposed to your brand until the latter stages of the recruitment process and, if you get the wrong agency, the candidate experience might reflect poorly on your employer brand.

Outsourced Graduate Recruitment Providers are your second option. Like agencies, they come at a cost but, arguably – outsourced providers should deliver value way beyond the placement. Graduate RPO Providers are often experts in their field – having access to the tools and techniques needed to recruit Graduates, they will manage the recruitment process whilst positioning your brand at the forefront. Of course, like agencies, this all depends on choosing the right provider. You should ensure that your values fit with the outsourced providers’, and they will work with you to produce the right recruitment outcomes.

  • The cost of attracting applicants

According to The Telegraph – in 2015, companies spent £900 million on attracting and recruiting Graduates.

As well as a large investment of money, attracting Graduates will require a large investment of time from a HR team – with the need to research and create content that can be posted. So, in terms of attraction, your main consideration should be around the opportunity cost – what else could that resource be used for, if it wasn’t being used to develop attraction streams?

To reiterate – there is no average figure that you can base your Graduate Programme costs on. Based upon your requirements, your cost will adjust accordingly. It’s entirely up to you to decide whether or not the cost of running a Graduate Programme will outweigh the benefits of having young, talented Graduates as part of your workforce.

Which costs are putting you off of running a Graduate Programme? Or, if you already run one, which are your greatest costs? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.


Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment

Benefits of recruiting Graduates

Benefits of recruiting Graduates

At the end of the 2014/15 academic year, there were just over 1.5 million Graduates, all looking for jobs. Each of them – ready to get down to work, and start building a career for themselves.

Recruiting Graduates is bigger than ever!

A Graduate Programme is a way of bridging the gap between academic and working life – recruiting Graduates who have shown academic ability, but have little to no experience of working life.

Implementing a Graduate Programme into your business could be a smart move for the future. However, like most things, it comes at a cost. Because of this, you’ll need a robust case to prove the Return on Investment (ROI), and the true value of recruiting Graduates.

Here are some situations in which recruiting Graduates might generate a good ROI.

See More: Are you thinking about Recruiting Grads? Click here to find out what Cohesion can do for you!

– When your business is looking for cost reduction

Who isn’t looking to do more with less these days? Reducing everyday costs is a reality for many UK businesses, and can often put a lot of pressure on Managers and HR teams to come up with new ways of working. Considering the workforce is the most sizeable investment a Company can make, Graduates may be able to make a massive impact. Think about it; instead of continuously recruiting experienced and costly Sales Execs – why not introduce a Graduate Sales Scheme?

With the right level of training and support, you can expect to receive the same high-standard of work as an experience employee. And, potentially, you can develop a recruitment channel at a fraction of the experienced-hire cost.

– When your business is facing future skill gaps

Some industries, such as Construction, suffer from an ageing workforce. Unless you take action, there is always potential for this gap to increase and, at some point, you can find yourself left behind. This can leave a company with a massive skills shortage in the future. Recruiting Graduates brings fresh talent into the Industry – filling the skills gap that you might have been facing.

– When your business is embracing new technology

Technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and will continue to improve indefinitely. Graduates, being of the younger generation, are more accustomed to using new and up-to-date technology. Technology = efficiency. So, by one degree of separation: Graduates should = efficiency.

– When your business needs young, innovative thinking

Graduate have the most recent theoretical knowledge, and nothing to lose by speaking their minds. Because of this, they aren’t afraid to questions processes, and maybe even suggest doing things another way. So, if you’re suffering from long-tenure, and an unwillingness to change and adapt – a Graduate Programme could be extremely beneficial to your Company.

Like most things, there are a lot of costs associated with running a Graduate Programme. And, as well as this, there are a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. However, with careful planning, appropriate recruitment processes, and sufficient investment – a Graduate programme can be extremely beneficial for you, and for the future of your Company. A well-planned Graduate Programme could produce a Return on Investment that is greater than you could have ever imagined. All it takes is that initial investment.

So, why wouldn’t you have your own Graduate Programme? Comment below to let us know any issues you have faced with yours, or anything that is putting you off running your own – we’d love to know!

Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment