Getting the best from Placement Students
The Rolling Program | The Training & Operations Manual | Interviewing Placement Students
The Rolling Program
This is a simple yet powerful way to fill permanent, complex positions with placement students, and keep your overheads to an absolute minimum.
Placement students have traditionally been used for temporary work or projects because a placement is typically around 6 months in duration. However, many of our clients use a simple rolling program that means students can be used for permanent positions.
Here’s How it Works:
We recruit a second student to take over from your first - with an overlap. Simple as that!
This overlap allows for the 1st student to train the 2nd, and so on, providing continuity for as long as you require. It represents a very flexible and low cost employment resource.
Hidden Benefit. Ssshh!
Several of our clients report that this provides better stability that using a standard employee.
It’s a scenario you know all too well – when your admin manager comes to see you to tell you she has found another job and is leaving in 4 weeks. Its panic stations!
You have 4 weeks to find a replacement, which is a hard job in itself. Your new candidate will take a few weeks to find, and then will probably have to give their existing employer a month’s notice. Chances are your old employee will be long gone before you get the replacement in place. So you either have a period when no-one is doing that job, or you drag someone else off what they should be doing, or you draft in a temp. Either way, it’s a crisis!
Then your shiny new employee turns up. Great! But who is going to train her? You? Another manager? What a pain! And the person who really knew the job is long gone!
With students on a rolling program, you always know when your worker is going to leave, and you have a replacement lined up ready. It’s planned. Controlled. Your outgoing worker trains your incoming one, and all is good with the world. Your business keeps running smoothly, and you avoid the stress.
One of our clients says that having students on a rolling program is like a heart beat, with a regular healthy pattern. The alternative can be more like a heart attack every time someone leaves!
- No more training - students train each other, so you don’t have to train them every time a new one starts
- Continuity – you can fill permanent positions
- Quality – as the accumulated knowledge gets passed from one student to the next, it enables you to use students for complex, responsible positions, such as junior managerial
- Low cost – as ever! It means that you could have, for example, a permanent graduate-calibre office manager for as little as £7000 a year
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
TEN INTERVIEWING TIPS
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!