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University Recruiting: Best Practices & Trends for the Season

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Patrick Wu

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Each fall, university recruiting (UR) season kicks off — and with it, the race to hire top talent.

The labor market has been tight throughout 2022, and many companies are feeling the pressure to attract a diverse pool of promising candidates. Filling software engineering and development roles can be particularly challenging, so it’s important to fine-tune your campus recruiting strategy according to best practices.

At Karat, we’ve conducted more than 150,000 technical interviews, so we’ve learned a thing or two about seasonal UR trends. Here are six best practices to keep in mind throughout the fall recruiting season:

1. Interview early.

Companies that get an early start have their pick of the best candidates. As the season goes on, fewer students apply, and average coding scores decline.

During the 2021-2022 UR season, for example, over half of all interviews had taken place by the end of October. Average coding scores peaked early, then declined throughout the season as top candidates accepted offers from their preferred companies.

Assuming we’ll see a similar trend this year, both candidate quantity and quality will start to dip around November.

2. Hire fast.

The quicker the tech stage, the more likely candidates will close. We’ve found this to be true throughout software engineer hiring, but especially among top UR candidates, who are most likely to have multiple offers.

Companies that can get UR candidates through the technical interview stage in four days or less see a 2.3x better hiring yield than the industry average.

3. Keep diversity top of mind.

Building diverse software development teams is both a priority and a challenge for many companies. Luckily, the numbers show that UR season is a good time to focus on recruiting a diverse pool of candidates.

Compared to industry averages, the population of candidates during UR season is far more diverse. Over the past three years, companies saw an average of 113% more applicants who were female or non-binary and 67% more applicants who were members of an underrepresented minority (URM) during UR season.

4. Emphasize learning and growth opportunities.

Between the tight labor market and widespread economic uncertainty, paying more than competitors isn’t always possible. It’s important for companies to look beyond salary and consider other factors that matter to applicants.

One such factor is opportunities for learning and growth; in a May 2022 survey of 900 new college grads, 25% said it was their top priority when choosing a post-grad job.

If your company offers ongoing training programs, support for completing professional certifications, tuition reimbursement programs, leadership workshops, or mentorship programs, be sure to communicate those benefits to potential applicants.

5. Allow candidates to redo interviews.

Redo interviews ensure that every candidate has the opportunity to show you their best work. This levels the playing field for diverse candidates, who may not have as much interview experience as their counterparts.

Additionally, redo interviews improve signal and reduce the chances of passing on candidates who would succeed in the role — which means you can save the time and resources you would’ve spent on unnecessarily interviewing more candidates.

6. Build relationships.

An estimated half of software engineer hires churn within two years, so even if you hire the best candidates this year, you’ll more than likely need to recruit again next year.

If you provide a positive, memorable interview experience, candidates are more likely to return when applications open again. When you turn down an applicant, let them know that they’re encouraged to apply again in the future — they just might take you up on it.

Ready to up your UR game?

At Karat, our mission is to unlock opportunities — for both hiring companies and candidates. We’ll partner with you to optimize your UR program with technical interviews that are fast, accessible to diverse candidates, and better predict success at your organization.

Learn more about our university recruiting solution.


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