Want better graduates? Cut out the stress


Surf a graduate forum for a few minutes and you’ll quickly hit upon a well-worn piece of advice: “just be yourself”.

Gen Z are well-known for their pursuit of authenticity. However, when it comes to graduate recruitment, are employers doing enough to facilitate it?

You’re not YOU when you’re stressed

Those forums tell tales of panic at the words “assessment centre”. You can feel the nerves rattling at talk of “presentations”.

These common assessment methods cause unnecessary stress.

This in itself is obviously unpleasant, but, crucially, our research suggests that stressful environments make candidates less likely to respond authentically. Under pressure, graduates can quickly transform from “themselves” into everything they think you want them to be.

Questions of the self(-report)

So what could possibly go wrong when a stressed graduate responds to self-report assessments? We at Arctic Shores have identified three pitfalls:-

  • Makes it harder to gauge job fit
  • Potential for cost inefficiency
  • Impact on cognitive diversity

Job Fit

When did you last hire someone who turned out to be the wrong person for the role? Well, you’re not alone. Survey data shows that 95% of recruiters have found themselves in your position.

Nearly half of all poor hires are the result of a “mismatch of skills”, according to Robert Half research. Assessing job fit is an ongoing challenge for many. With stress directly linked to authentic responses, finding ways to set graduates at ease will be vital.


CareerBuilder data estimates that it could cost $15,000 on average to replace a poor hire. That sounds bad. But when you realise that’s over 36,000 Chicken McNuggets, 1,900 glasses of wine, or 1,000 days of unlimited London travel, it gets much, much worse.

There’s clearly something to be said for getting it right first time round, then. This means painting the clearest possible picture of a candidate’s abilities, and you simply can’t do that if their stress levels are dialled up to 11.

Cognitive Diversity

Teams tackle obstacles faster when members offer different ways of thinking (termed cognitive diversity)But, as candidates’ stress-induced responses sit closer to the interviewer’s expectations, the process can become a quagmire of sameness.

Encouraging candidates’ peace of mind will give you a truer representation of their unique approach to challenges. With cognitive diversity directly linked to productivity, this will benefit both the company and the graduate.

Gamification and stress

We discovered that 82% of candidates find our behaviour-based tests less stressful than typical psychometric assessments. To confirm that their answers weren’t just what we wanted to hear, we hooked candidates up to heart monitors…

And the results are in! Out with the sweaty palms (and subsequent gross handshakes). In with honest, impactful insight into how they really think. One candidate said:

“A fun way to take the edge off the ‘normal’ psychometrics. Refreshing!”

The takeaway here is that, by introducing behaviour-based assessments into the graduate recruitment process, hiring managers can more accurately predict candidates’ cultural and job fit.

So, when recruiting your next grads, why stress it?

To read about the science behind Gamified Psychometric Assessments, please click here.

Psst. One million candidates have now used the Arctic Shores assessment! Read all about it here

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