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Are MBA Students Getting More Comfortable With Remote Job Recruiting?

MBA CSEA has found an increase in on-campus recruiting activity even as schools and students continue to grapple with the restrictions of coronavirus

Coronavirus is still here and still affecting every aspect of life in graduate business education. Students and schools take the threat lightly at their peril. But the normal way of doing things is crawling back into the picture, a reality reinforced by the latest survey from a major tracker of MBA hiring patterns.

MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, a global association for graduate business career services professionals and  employers of MBAs, reports that significant numbers of their members have seen an increase this fall in recruiting activity on campus — activity that includes hybrid and virtual formats, but also job postings, live interviews, and in-person information sessions.

It’s not a clear-cut case of everyone wanting to get back to the old way of doing things. While nearly one-fifth of respondents from business schools indicated that their students prefer face-to-face meetings, about 15% reported that students like the flexibility of remote or hybrid models.

JUST 19% SAY STUDENTS PREFER FACE-TO-FACE RECRUITING

Last fall MBA CSEA, which has more than 800 members representing over 250 business schools and corporations, found a significant increase in both student (29%) and recruiter (23%) attendance at virtual recruiting events. Now, for some, virtual has become entrenched as the preferred method of recruitment.

In its latest survey conducted between September 29 and October 5, which garnered 89 responses mostly from schools in North America, MBA CSEA found that just 19% of respondents indicated that students seem to prefer face-to-face recruiting/networking in some format, mainly due to the need for in-person connections. Meanwhile, 10% of respondents noted that students like the flexibility and additional opportunities provided by virtual recruiting — specifically, a rising comfort level with video interviews and having access to more employers. Students recognize the trend toward virtual recruitment. Another 5% of schools indicated that students like hybrid models.

The reasons are also made clear in the write-in section of the new survey: Recruiting platforms have improved, and virtual recruiting provides more equitable engagement across schools. For international students, who are often at a disadvantage in the job hunt by virtue of needing visas or other assistance to remain in the countries where they work, virtual events are seen as an especially helpful learning tool.

70% SAY LESS THAN 1/4 OF RECRUITING ACTIVITY IS BEING DONE IN PERSON

However, MBA CSEA’s survey notes two other key factors: Students prefer live to pre-recorded virtual recruiting activities, and perhaps more pertinently, virtual fatigue is increasing.

With preferences fairly clear, it’s not a surprise that 70% of respondents say less than a quarter — 0 to 24% — of recruiting activities at their school are being conducted in person. Fifteen percent say the proportions are between 25% and 49%; 11% say it’s between half and 74%; and just 4% say it’s between 75% and 99%. None say it’s 100%.

Regardless of the format, 65% of MBA CSEA members say recruitment activity is on the upswing this fall, with 17% saying it has been significantly higher and 48% somewhat higher. Nearly a quarter — 23% — say recruitment has been about the same, 10% somewhat lower, and 4% significantly lower.

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