Screen Test

Article by Tom Baxter

Are today’s methods of grading and selecting our graduate chemengers lacking?

AS someone who has recruited scores of chemical engineers in industry for more than 40 years, and as a university chemical engineering lecturer, I have watched with bewilderment the rise of the graduate assessment centre. These assessment centres are now a feature of the recruitment process where employers bring together a group of candidates who complete a series of exercises, tests and interviews that are designed to evaluate suitability for graduate jobs within their organisation. Of course, graduate recruitment is of prime importance for the longevity of many companies, but are assessment centres really appropriate, or necessary, for recruiting chemical engineers?

Why pass on the responsibility for screening chemical engineers to non-technical individuals? Role playing, psychometric testing, observing group discussions – what does it all provide? Most companies will identify the number of chemical engineering graduates required and where they will begin their career – operational site, design office, R&D, etc. So surely it would make sense for the manager of the recruiting department to identify the new recruit? Obvious key qualities would be technically strong, good team players and good communicators – traits that a competent manager could identify given an hour or so with potential candidates. I would contend that they would do a better job of recruiting than having the same candidates spend two days at an assessment centre. I’d argue that if a manager can’t identify suitable recruits then they should not be a manager.

Article by Tom Baxter

Senior fellow, chemical engineering, School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen; Visiting professor, chemical engineering, Strathclyde University; and retired technical director, Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants

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