Latest Article

Questions From Hell: Developing/Assessing a College Recruiting Program

If you are going to start (or improve) a college recruiting program, it’s essential that you look at what most firms do with a cynical eye. Almost all college programs follow a cookie-cutter approach. They are run on emotion and tradition. Few, if any, have any hard evidence that they produce quality hires. I’ve advised numerous firms and I’ve yet to find one that can answer even half of the questions I’ve listed below. But ignorance is not bliss; I find college programs are often cut during economic downturns because college relations managers are not “experts” in their own field. In a rapidly changing world it is essential that you use a data-driven approach if you are to gain a competitive advantage in college recruiting. Even if you can’t answer the following questions, it is still important to use them as a tool that will force you to rethink your approach. I hope the list will also give you some ideas on how a business (data-driven) approach to college programs can aid you in making dramatic improvements in your program. When gathering answers to these questions, remember not to generalize between schools, majors, regions and between top performers and the average college student! General

  1. Is there any evidence that the ROI for college hires (CH) is higher than experienced hires (EH)?
  2. Is it worth the effort to recruit the very best (top) college students (as opposed to average college students)? What is the output differential (in dollars) between what a top college hire produces as compared to output generated by an average college hire?
  3. What are the critical success factors (CSFs) or characteristics of a world-class college program?
  4. What is the name of your college recruiting strategy? How is your strategy superior to the competitors?
  5. What are the goals of the strategy? Do managers know what they are? Are they prioritized? Are the results measured?
  6. Does your college strategy vary depending on the economic conditions?
  7. Does the same strategy work as well in all schools? Regions? Countries?
  8. Are undergrads attracted and sold in the same manner as grads?
  9. Should the recruiting approach vary with the major?
  10. What are the decision criteria that top students use to select a firm for consideration?
  11. How do you measure the effectiveness of a CH program?


  1. Is there any evidence that college hires (CH) perform well on the job (i.e. better than experienced hires)?
  2. How many months before CH reach the minimum expected performance level?
  3. Do college hires have a higher turnover rate than experienced hires (EH)?
  4. Are grads better performers than undergrads (relative to the costs?)
  5. Do the top schools produce the top performing hires? Is the top 1 percentile at a “non-top 10″ school better than a 11 percentile student from a “top 10″ school?
  6. Do CH fit into teams best or are they best as individual contributors?
  7. Do “technical” majors perform better than liberal arts or “out of field” majors?
  8. Are “passive” CH better performers then those that “find you” (actives)?
  9. What % of our top performers and top managers came from the college hire program? Is it the highest source of top performers (compared to non-college sources)?
  10. As the percentage of college hires increases in a team/department does team performance go up proportionately? Is there an ideal ratio of college to experienced hires on a team?
  11. What % of college hires turn out to be poor performers? What happens to them? What is the cost of a bad college hire?
  12. What are the critical success factors in making a college hire successful? (Manager)? Training? Mentor?)

Management Time/Effort

  1. Do college hires require more management time than EH?
  2. Are managers any good at finding and/or selling students? What skills does it take?
  3. Which managers are the best at managing college hires? What impact does a placement with a “bad” manager or project have on candidate productivity and retention?
  4. What is the level of management satisfaction with the college program?

Finding Them

  1. What is the best attraction tool/source for producing hires that turn out to be top performers (referrals, internet, career fairs, information sessions, resume “books”)?
  2. If we all use the same attraction tools, where is the competitive advantage?
  3. Can the best be found remotely, without visiting campus? What percentage of college students visit and make a decision based on our corporate “jobs” web page
  4. Do the best go to the career center? Do career center interview “bid” systems produce the best candidates?
  5. Which recommendations (faculty, recruiters, managers, former students, other students etc. produce the best candidates?
  6. When is the best time to begin identifying them? What is too early or too late?
  7. Do you want students that are attracted by yo yo’s (“giveaways”) and glitz rather than substance?
  8. Is the diversity hire rate of college hires higher than that of experienced hire programs?
  9. Can remote (Internet) identification of candidates be as (or more) effective than traditional identification tools?
  10. Which faculty make the best recommendations (deans, chairs, research faculty, teaching faculty)?

Selling Them

  1. What are the decision criteria that top students use to select a firm for consideration? Does it vary by grad/ under-grad? Major? Top performers? What is the best way to identify their criteria? How often do they change?
  2. What are the decision criteria that top students use to select a firm for an interview? Does it vary by grad/ under-grad? Major? Top performers?
  3. Who do students want to talk to (managers, recruiters)?
  4. Who does the most effective selling job (managers, recruiters)?
  5. Does giving money/ equipment to the school increase the quality of the applicants?
  6. How do we assess our brand, recognition factor and image among our target audience? What tools are most effective in increasing our recognition and “admired” rates?
  7. What are the most effective “closing” tools and strategies for college hires?

Assessing Them

  1. What is the most accurate assessment tool for predicting success on the job? Does it vary by grad/ under-grad? Major? Top performers?
  2. Does “fit “to the culture matter? How is it best assessed?
  3. Are there standard competencies to assess for all candidates or does it vary by the job, major, grad/ under-grad? Are people skills more important than technical skills in predicting on the job performance?
  4. Do the best students have the best resumes? Interview the best?
  5. Do college interns produce the best hires? What is the conversion rate of internship programs?
  6. Can remote (Internet) assessment of candidates be as (or more) effective than traditional face-to-face assessment?

Recruiters And Administration

  1. Do college hire programs that spend the most money produce better results than “low cost” programs?
  2. Is there evidence that those we interview but do not hire walk away with a positive image of our firm? Do they later become customers or fierce competitors as a result of our interaction? Is applicant and new hire satisfaction measured and reported?
  3. Who should college programs report to/ be funded by (Line managers, central recruiting, independent)?
  4. Does outsourcing college recruiting increase the ROI and quality of hires?
  5. Do college recruiters need training in order to be effective?
  6. Does the performance of college recruiters improve over time? Does it decrease over time?
  7. How do you assess recruiter effectiveness?
  8. Should you increase college hiring when other firms cut back? (In order to capture top students that you would normally not be able to attract)
  9. What reward/ metric system best motivates college recruiters? Managers?

Building a Relationship With Schools

  1. What are the best tools for building relationships with schools (faculty internships, research grants, donations, relationships with the administration)?


  1. Who are the benchmark firms to study in college recruiting?
  2. Who are the best consultants, marketing research and recruiter training firms? How do you assess them?
  3. What are the most common mistakes made in college hire programs?
  4. How do you handle the jealousy/ conflict when you bring college hires on board with no/ low differential in pay (compared to current employees)?
  5. What role does branding, product sales and research have in the over-all college strategy?
  6. What is the best “time of year” to do college visits and to start and end recruiting
  7. Should you recruit (and hire) students before they graduate? What are the consequences of hiring early vs. waiting?

So there you have it. A metrics checklist for those that want to develop a world-class college hire program.

Recent Articles