How To Create A Virtual New Grad Recruiting Funnel That Actually Works

Written by
Andrew Wood
Last updated:
June 15, 2023

Ok, so campus visits are out now?

Or are they back on? 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public health restrictions provided a great excuse for why new grad hiring had to be all remote. Candidates forgave some shortcomings and less-than-ideal experiences. Now, things are changing.

To keep up in the changing world, companies need to take the best of the old ways—namely, the focus on human interaction—and leverage the best of technology—speed, flexibility, and cost efficiency—to build a new kind of recruiting funnel.

While we recommend all new grad funnels have some in-person elements if possible, you can still build a high quality, fully virtual funnel. Here’s what you need to know.

New grads are unique recruits

New grads—comprising mostly Gen Z and increasingly Generation Alpha—want tech-forward companies that respect their time and flexibility. And, contrary to pandemic-fueled beliefs, they want to be in the office; it’s just that these folks want offices to be spaces of collaboration and connection rather than the day-to-day grind. 

All of this means new grads in 2022 and beyond are unique. They value specific things from the working world (like connection and flexibility) that previous generations didn’t value as highly. 

What does all this have to do with virtual recruiting? The simple answer is that recruiting is the best way to demonstrate what kind of company someone might be joining. Understanding what new grad candidates want in a workplace will help you figure out what you need to highlight in the recruiting process. Of course, this has to be authentic to the experience you offer—if it’s not, your recruiting process will feel like a revolving door.

The typical new grad recruiting practice, changed

We recommend some of these steps still happen in person, even if your company is fully remote—and definitely if it’s hybrid—but if you need to make it 100% virtual for any reason, here’s how to do it well.

1. Employer branding

New grads don’t have the benefit of industry experience, so your organization needs to stand out before you start posting jobs. 

Virtual initiatives to consider

  • Regular live chats and discussions that interested candidates can join. Pro tip: always have a speaker or short talk so candidates don’t feel they are joining a virtual event with no agenda.
  • Blog posts featuring your employees or spotlighting different roles within your organization. Use these blogs to describe the realities of working in your company (don’t be afraid to highlight perceived negatives—transparency is important here. For example, if you work a lot of hours, don’t pretend you have a classic 9-5 structure). 
  • A fleshed-out careers page that communicates what is expected of employees and what the company does for them in return. Demonstrate the commitment you make to employees so they can self-select into the community.

If you can do something in person, we recommend attending or speaking at other events to get your company’s name out there and meet new people.

2. Role / job marketing

If you have a job posting going live, you need people to know about it. 

Virtual initiatives to consider

  • Actively posting on social media and in any public-facing newsletter. 
  • Reaching out at schools, inviting students to virtual hiring events, and explaining which roles you have open during the event. 
  • Encourage employees to speak on virtual panels within the school’s ecosystem so students hear your perspectives and learn about job opportunities. 

If you can do something in person, we recommend hosting a candidates’ night on campus or nearby. This classic staple of campus recruiting provides a great opportunity to show your culture and team style.

3. First round candidate screens

Hopefully, you’ve got a lot of candidates. But that also creates a challenge—you need to screen a lot of candidates. 

Leverage asynchronous video interviews for first candidate screens.

Unlike live video interviews (often done over Zoom or Google Meet), async interviews give candidates the flexibility they need to answer questions then upload them into a video interview platform. After facilitating over 180,000 async interviews on Willo, candidates and recruiters alike say they love the structure.

Aside from the candidate and recruiter benefits, async interviewing is also great for the environment, giving you more initiatives toward ESG goals (another thing Gen Z and Generation Alpha value in an employer).

4. Interview process

Beyond the first round screening, candidate interviews can get lengthy. Depending on your process you might have one to five (or more) additional interviews before making a hiring decision. 

Virtual initiatives to consider

  • Live video interviews to keep things remote but bring human connection back into it. 
  • Skills challenges and other online assessments to help you test specific skills.

If you have a hybrid-remote workforce, we recommend at least one of the interviews be in-person, preferably at the candidate’s possible future home office. This might require travel (for you, the candidate, or both), but it’s helpful to show the candidate the actual environment they’d be joining.

5. Offers and rejections

When you’ve made a hiring decision, how you communicate it matters. 

Virtual initiatives to consider

  • Send rejections via email—don’t ghost candidates—and give them the chance to reapply later (if appropriate for your organization). 
  • Call successful candidates to give them a verbal offer then follow up via email shortly after. 

This phase is rarely ever done in person, even pre-COVID, so chances are you’re already set up to do this virtually.

6. Sell events

When you’re trying to convince new candidates to take your offer over a competitor’s, the sell event matters. 

Virtual initiatives to consider

  • Metaverse or VR / AR office tours.
  • Virtual meetups with their new team leader and team (pro tip: send an UberEats gift card or similar ahead of time so they can ‘have a meal’ with the team).

We like these in person if possible, since it’s the best way to demonstrate your office culture and have a bit of fun. If you have to do virtual, make sure candidates have ready access to their entire potential team, leader, and any other connections you might make (e.g. mentor if you have a mentor program in place, pre-assign them so they know).

7. Pre-onboarding

This is all admin, but needs to be done well. Make sure you have clear communication on all expectations:

  • Leading up to their first day: Will you send anything ahead of time? Do they have any prep work to do?
  • Day one: Where do they go? How do they log in? Etc. 
  • Training weeks: How long is training? Is it onsite or remote? What are the logistics? 
  • Month one: A general overview of the path an employee is expected to take during their first month.

Automate this, but have a human connection option too if they have additional questions or want to reach out to someone.

Think consciously about in-person versus remote for your company

In general, we like the rule of ‘choose what benefits the candidates at each stage’ when choosing between virtual (async or live) versus in-person. For instance, you might choose virtual first screens because it gives candidates a ton of flexibility and lowers their obstacles to participation. But then an in-person sell event where you bring all candidates to a central location

The mix will ultimately be up to your business, how you operate, and what works best based on employee needs and candidate feedback. Pro tip here: ask recent hires which parts of the interview process they felt should have been remote / where remote would have made the experience better.

You might end up choosing that all remote is the way for you, and that’s great. The key is to focus on candidate experience on top of cost saving or internal efficiency.

Andrew Wood
Co-founder
LinkedIn profile

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