The Rolling Program
This is a simple yet powerful way that undergraduates can be utilised on projects or fill roles for as long as you require.
Here’s How it Works:
Using our simple ‘Rolling Program’ undergraduates can work on projects or fill roles for as long as you require.
Placement undergraduates have traditionally been used for temporary work or projects of around 6 months in duration. This is because a placement is typically 6m. This can be limiting for both the student and the employer. Sometimes worthwhile projects take longer than 6 months. So we have devised and developed a simple system that means they can be used for indefinite periods. You recruit the first student for say 6 months; then you recruit a second student to take over from the first – with an overlap. This overlap allows for the first student to help train the second, and so on, providing continuity for as long as you require. The overlap can be as long as necessary – typically a couple of weeks to a month. This has enabled many of our clients to use placement undergraduates continuously so that both they and the students get the most from their placements.
With students on a rolling program, you have a set leaving date, and you have a replacement lined up ready. It’s planned. Controlled. Your outgoing student helps to train your incoming one, minimising your input and providing for continuity.
- Convenience: minimal ongoing training – students pass training on to successors.
- Quality: as the accumulated knowledge gets passed from one student to the next, it enables you to use students for complex, responsible, longer term positions and projects.
The Training & Operations Manual
It’s surprising how few companies do this. It’s simple housekeeping, but it can be a life saver if someone else needs to pick up your student’s tasks. Like you! Or more likely your next student.
Here’s How it Works:
You simply insist that your student, as part of their normal duties, builds and maintains an operations manual.
This is just a simple list of the tasks they do, and details of exactly how they do them. It should include details such as file names and locations, usernames and passwords, and step-by-step instructions on how to complete every task, such that anyone could do it i.e. an idiot’s guide!
Hidden Benefit. Ssshh!
One of our clients employs this simple system. They recently applied for the quality standard ISO9001.
The ISO assessors came in to review the existing quality systems. They looked at the admin student’s procedures manual, and said ‘That’s it!’
That’s all they required for ISO9001. Done. Finished.
Certificate on the wall!
- Everything is written down – their entire job in minute, perfect detail.
- Anyone can pick up their tasks if needed.
- It’s the perfect training manual for the next student.
Interviewing Placement Students
How do you sort the wheat from the chaff at interview stage?
Here’s what to do:
- Settle your student with small talk. It’s not rocket science this one. Ask them about the weather, or what they have been doing so far that day. Try to resist launching straight into your serious interview questions.
- Avoid ‘extreme interviewing’ techniques. None of this ‘if you were a dinosaur, what type would you be?’ nonsense. Go easy on them. Remember they are not pitching in for a dream £100k salary directorship. Yet.
- Ask them to spell their name to you. This will test if they know the English alphabet. This really is fundamental to their language skills. And you may be surprised how many it trips up! This is important if your student is going to be taking phone messages as part of their job.
- Deliberately complicate a question. This will test if they understand complex English. Eg. ‘What is it about our company that attracts you?’ (That doesn’t sound complex does it? But try it!)
- Get them to call at a certain time. This will test if they are punctual, and if they understand time differences between countries.
- Use Skype. This will give you a view of the candidate so you can judge appearance and body language. Expect nerves. Don’t expect them to be suited and booted though!
- Assess each candidate using a scoring system. This can cover all of the various traits that you are looking for: eg. spoken English; accent, experience; personality; motivation; etc. Then tot up the scores so you can compare with other candidates, and choose the best one.
- Have they done their homework? As them what they know about your business. They should have at least visited your website. Hopefully they will show some understanding, and not just read it back to you!
- Do they understand the role? Ask them to describe their understanding of the job. But don’t allow them just to read your job description back to you! Make them interpret it. The last thing you want is a student who has made incorrect assumptions about what the job entails. They may be viewing it through rose-tinted spectacles, and may have overlooked some of the less glamorous aspects!
- Do they have any other offers? You don’t want to miss out on a great candidate because they have another offer, and you are biding your time, playing it cool. We have all been there – you know that a candidate is just right, and you’re itching to make them an offer there and then, but you dont want to look too eager. So you make the offer a few days later and… it’s too late. They have taken another offer, thinking you weren’t interested! Find out at interview stage if they have other suitors – the best ones usually do. And if you are seriously interested in them, tell them they fit all the criteria and are on the shortlist, and not to accept any other offers before checking with you first. Then you can give it 24 hours, and get in there!