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Recruitment | 4 Min Read

6 Major Challenges Recruiters Face During Campus Hiring


Hannah, an HR generalist, goes to several colleges for hiring graduates for her company.

“Hunting on-campus” is what she entitled to her mission. She had a great time there at colleges, went through the entire recruitment process, and hired some real talent for their organization.

On the joining day, while reviewing applications and checking mails, she finds out something really shocking and challenging. Almost 40% of the candidates, they (her entire team)  hired, didn’t join even after accepting the joining letter. 

Plans for higher studies, another job offer, personal errands, backlogs, etc.” were some of the responses she manages to receive.

Challenges Recruiters Face During Campus Hiring?

Okay! This might convey the unsatisfactory behavior of candidates, in short, the fault of candidates. However, in the end, the recruiters and organization are the sufferers; letting go of the precious time and resources.

But, is this the only challenge that recruiters face when hiring freshers?

This piece will take you through several dilemmas faced by the recruiters when dealing with campus hiring. Moreover, we’ll move on with other challenges in a sequence of the actual recruitment process– sourcing, to screening, to selection.

How Does Companies Do Campus Hiring?

According to Mettl’s State of Talent Acquisition in India, hiring will continue to increase in 2018: 76.3% of recruiters expect to hire more people in 2018 than they did in 2017.

The hire-to-meet-immediate-needs approach of hiring does not do any favor. Many of the colleges see getting more number of companies on their campus compared to the previous years, as something achievable.

Fair enough.

Recruiters, in contrast, start facing challenges from this very stage- sourcing. In a layman language, college campuses are the source of easy availability of a large pool of candidates. But for a recruiter, or for that matter an organization, it’s not practical to hire from every college out there. This is the reason why it becomes crucial to narrow down which specific campuses are they going to target. After all, it’s a lot of money, time, and other vital resources at stake.

The degree of literacy or geographic challenges faced by hiring managers are significant.

Campus Hiring stats

Neither it’s possible to hire in dozens from top tier colleges, nor does fishing collectively in a pool guarantees you the expected outcome.

Rarely, a graduate has exposure to actual tools and software used, nor they are aware of workplace etiquettes. To judge only on the basis of academic skills is another challenge. Selecting the institutes based on this becomes challenging once again.

What Is the Right Time for Campus Hiring?

In India, April is generally the year-end closing month, when companies close operations and announce their financial statements.

“How does that matter?”, Hannah asks.

FYI, outcomes like the budget for hiring, the expected number of new hires and compensation significantly depend on the financial results. In fact, this is the time when many employees choose quitting the firm, not being happy with the compensation and hike in their salaries. Hence, such companies commence hiring diligently from consecutive months.

Companies with the financial year being in other months also follow a similar cycle.

Also, the placement season in colleges starts from the beginning of the respective semester. With other organizations approaching same campuses, they also have to find the right time to target.

Well, there are times when students might not be present for placement in considerable amounts. These are times when semester exams are in full swing, or the curriculum is fixed for any other different activity, or even the vacations are not the right time for recruiters to go hunt for talent.

All of these factors, combined together, become really challenging for an organization to decide the exact time to go hunting freshers.

What Is The Current State Of Campus Hiring?

Embellished resume stats

We hope, we’ve grabbed your attention.

Hannah, in the colleges she visited for campus hiring, made sure to hire at least 10 marketers. She mailed the job description to the placement coordinator, and the next day it was viral in the campus, hung outside the placement cell and downloaded in each laptop.

Less did she know that in the JD (what students call), the profile mentioned was Marketing as a whole, and not precisely content or digital or SEO, etc.

Consequently, a fewer number of candidates applied, being unaware of the exact job-role and those selected clarified their doubts in one-on-one interviews. Not more than 3 candidates made it to the company.

It is seriously a challenging task for hiring authorities to sell their company, and not the product, to the freshers, who possess unrealistic expectations regarding their roles in the company.

The pre-placement talks, the job descriptions and selecting the team-to-hire become very much exigent. The target audience, suffering from lack of exposure to the company culture, inability to meet deadlines, and other such corporate essentials, adds on to the fullest.

There definitely exists a kind of skill gap between what recruiters need and what candidates seem to appear on their resumes. The challenge comes when recruiters tend to sound comprehensible for candidates, and the students get it wrong.

How To Find The Perfect Candidate?

HR professionals often observe themselves pinned when they don’t face candidates with solid foundations or skill sets needed for the position. Let me put it this way:

Hiring freshers stats

Skipping the required skill gaps and finding the right fit means leaving your comfort zone. As a matter of fact, when at the path of campus hiring, recruiters are aware of the level of skill sets of the candidates. Even for filling the position of interns, the challenge arrives at what type of assessments should they opt to.

Although there are certain models or system from established recruitment platforms, investing in one of those again is something to ponder. The one which aims to assess more talents in less time, helping make the right hiring decision.

One of the biggest challenges is to discover applicants who are natural leaders. Finding the proactive ones, problem solvers, “Roll up the sleeves and get it done” type candidates are not so easy to find as it seems to be.

Students at colleges might not be used to the change and fast-paced culture of an organization. Ignoring the culture-fit factor again can do bad at times, for an organization. The genuine challenge possibly comes when taking a gander at how a potential candidate will fit into the organization.

Not every time, a high IQ candidate be the best fit. Elimination on the basis of grades could be another issue; whether or not to filter out candidates who might have low grades but be high on other skills, be it personality, upskilling or reskilling.

What Is The Apt Compensation?

After a four-year-long stretch and then getting placed, all that a student wishes is to take home the best and attractive salary package. And I bet, every student on the campus sets a benchmark of his/her dream package. Well, I also did.

Honestly, at this point in time, candidates do a lot of research and end up getting an idea of the packages, different companies provide.

In the campus, candidates have the leverage of attending several pre-placement talks and options to apply to several companies with several profiles. So, the recruiters have a challenging task fixing the compensation for the job profiles.

Not only this, the benefits and incentives, which represent the gorgeous and appealing side of any hiring process, do invest in a recruiter’s lot of efforts. Talking about the small businesses, they have to compete not only with companies of a similar size but also with corporations with big payroll budgets.

The recruiter offers a different salary structure to different colleges they visit, depending upon the reputation and standards of the institutes. They have to come up with a salary structure which is attractive enough to make students fight for it and much enough to make them think they should apply.

You may refer to our next release, a report on Campus Hiring: Salary and Employment Report 2018 entails a comprehensive survey of salary levels and more other topics.

Why Do Candidates Refuse The Offer?

A big question to Hannah and all other recruiters out there.

What do you think is more frustrating that candidates dropping off after an offer has been made?

Believe me. Candidates’ refusal to join after acceptance can cost a team months of efforts; needless to say, the cost of one hire.

Take a note.

Cost of a hire

where Opportunity cost starts right from when the position becomes vacant till it is occupied by with a new hire.

All this math, just to make sure you get to understand the challenge a recruiter face when this kind of situation knocks the door.

The reasons for drop-offs as per the candidates; lack of understanding of job roles, unhappy with the compensation or location, leaving for higher studies (the same as Hannah came across), some kind of legal terms or the so-called personal reasons.

Corporately, recruiters face challenges in building their brand. Recruiters are confronting an inexorably demanding and competitive talent market with numerous other recruiters going for a similar set of freshers.


Hiring is a standout amongst the most complex business functions.

Consider the different touch-points and procedures you must oversee. A normal recruiter, in a college campus, gets about 350 candidates. That is 350 applicants to track, manage, communicate, and at the same time organize the whole activity. And that is only for one job.

This also includes managing the candidates by tracking them via emails, spreadsheets, and all those paper works.

Feeling challenging already?

Talking about campus hiring, hiring from the mass is something that requires outrageous levels of tolerance, productivity, and furthermore keeping up the time smash, from your recruiters’ team.

Redefine your Campus Hiring Program with Mercer | Mettl’s Suite of Campus Hiring Tools



To know more about the strategies for effective campus recruitment, click here.

Originally published July 13 2018, Updated August 3 2021

Written by

Helping businesses beat content mediocrity by generate engaging content, both short and long form including blogs, social media, case studies, newsletters and more.

About This Topic

Campus hiring is the process of recruiting fresh graduates from colleges. Campus recruitment starts with campus selection, following which a recruitment team visits campuses for engagement activities, candidate screening and interviewing.

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