How do you find the best apprentices for your business?

02 November 2017 by Isla Lightfoot

As well as delivering brilliant training, Corndel can help you attract and recruit brilliant apprentices. This post gives you a quick overview of how we consistently find apprentices who exceed expectations of the employers we work with.

So, how could we help your business recruit brilliant apprentices?

  1. We listen

The first step is always a conversation between Corndel and the employer to really understand what you are looking for. This process is not restricted to putting together person specifications and job descriptions, but places a big emphasis on gaining a strong understanding of the culture and values of each organisation we recruit for. This is arguably the most important part of the whole process.

  1. Attraction

Once we know who we are looking for, we will start advertising the role. This includes advertising in all of the obvious places such as the major jobs boards and the Government’s Find an Apprenticeship service, as well as more locally tailored solutions, such as Facebook pages, Universities or colleges.

If you are particularly interested in generating applications from a specific group we will use our relationships with organisations such as Code First Girls, Tech Mums and Spiral, and advertise through their networks.

The application process is then made as easy as possible (we use Recruitee as our applicant tracking system and it’s fantastic) to maximise the number of applicants we have to choose from.

  1. Aptitude Testing

If you are a candidate, this is where it gets serious! Software engineering is a demanding discipline and not everyone who applies is well suited. To see who is likely to meet the intellectual rigours of coding we put candidates through two short aptitude tests that are designed to test the problem-solving skills most needed to be a great software engineer. These are Diagrammatic Reasoning and Symbol Processing tests and are intended to replicate coding challenges but without the need to have any prior experience of writing actual code. We obviously do not want to give too much away, but the screen shot below will give you some idea:

Candidates who perform well in these tests progress to the next stage.

  1. Group interviews

By now we have sifted out people who do not meet the basic requirements and have used our aptitude testing to identify the candidates most likely to be successful software engineers. This next stage is where we get to know candidates a bit better, assess their problem-solving skills and see how they work with others. We do this in a group setting.

This can happen in a number of ways and we are able to configure the session depending on what is most important to you. However, a few things will always remain the same:

  • We make these sessions as enjoyable as possible. Interviews are hard enough without the additional stress caused by an intimidating facilitator or venue;
  • We assess the skills you need to be a software engineer and nothing more. Does an engineer need to be able to put together amazing presentations and talk in front of large groups? Probably not, so we don’t test for these things. Do they need to enjoy solving problems, work well in small teams and grasp complex concepts quickly? Yes they do, so this is what we look for; and
  • We look for grit and resilience. Our programme is not easy and making sure we are identifying the candidates most likely to persevere when inevitable challenges arise is really important.

At this stage, we shortlist candidates for the final stage. By now we are confident that all of the shortlisted candidates would make great software engineers and are a great fit for your business.

  1. Over to you

It is now up to you to make the final decision and you can do this however you see fit. A common approach that works well is a fairly informal chat where the candidate is able to meet a few different members of the team and spend some time sitting alongside them, asking questions and seeing how you work. This final interview is all about you being comfortable that you select the candidates most compatible with your culture and values. To get this far the candidate has already demonstrated aptitude and commitment so it is now all about answering the question “can I work with this person?”.

While not strictly part of the recruitment process, it is probably worthwhile briefly mentioning how we continually improve and refine our recruitment process. After each recruitment campaign we run a retrospective review with all involved and seek feedback from candidates and businesses. This ensures we always keep improving and are able to deliver the best possible process that continues to identify the very best candidates for the businesses we work with.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you recruit brilliant apprentices? Contact us today to learn more.

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