Selecting students for industry placements
The experience of securing an industry placement might be the first time a young person has been through a recruitment process. Many organisations will be very experienced at running recruitment processes, often involving young people. For those who are less experienced or who are unused to a structured recruitment practice, this short guide describes a simple approach, tailored for potential industry placement students.
Write a placement role description
Describe your organisation, the student’s role and responsibilities and the kind of person you’re looking for industry placement students: example role descriptions for some ideas. Give practical information such as the dates, times and location of the placement, and payments to be made to the student (if applicable).
Use your own channels and/or ask local colleges, schools and other providers. If you use your own channels tell applicants how, when and where to apply. If you don’t advertise yourself, ask the college or school to send you the completed applications.
This is likely to be a shared process with the college or school. Agree the criteria and process in advance. For example, you could:
- assess them separately and compare results
- assess them jointly
- make an initial sift and prepare a shortlist – or ask the provider to do this
- make a decision straightaway or go the next stage (interview) if you want to see applicants before deciding
You are providing a great opportunity for young people to test their CV, application and interview skills. Some young people won’t have had expert help to prepare and may have some anxiety about taking an industry placement. Consider what you can do to help them feel relaxed and confident so they can show you their best selves during the recruitment process.
You’ll probably do this with the college or school as well. Decide who’s on the interview panel, when and where it happens – in your premises, at the college or school’s, by video link or phone. Use standard questions for fairness (see the list of example questions below).
Example interview questions:
- Tell us a bit about yourself – what you do in your spare time? Have you ever had a part-time job?
What do you like doing best?
- Which skills do you think you could use during your time with us, if you’re successful?
- How have you used these skills in the past?
- What do you hope to learn on this placement?
- Tell us about a time when you were part of a team – it could be at work, in a club or at college:
what was your role in the team?
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What do you do when you come across a problem that’s hard to solve?
- What do you know about our organisation?
- What do you hope to do after coming on this placement?
- What questions can we answer for you?
Communicate the outcome
Decide who does this – you or the college or school. Contact your first-choice applicant, check that they still want to take up the placement, and tell them about the next steps.
Tell unsuccessful applicants, give them feedback and encourage them to keep trying.
Consider the type of feedback you could give, even when a candidate is unsuccessful you may have valuable insight to help them on their journey.
Talk to the young people you offer placements to about your recruitment, induction and training processes. Involve them in the design and thinking for your next round of industry placement student recruitment. The insight you will get will really help you to become youth-friendly and create even more quality opportunities.