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Hiring Technical Talent

Conquering University Recruiting with Moody’s Analytics

Written By Nicolette Garcia | February 12, 2019

Director of Tech Talent at Moody's Analystics, Matthew Hess

What does it take to pull off a successful university recruiting season?

Recruiters are facing stringent offer deadlines, a more competitive landscape (in comparison to hiring experienced candidates), and the challenge of keeping their prospects engaged for longer periods of time. And if you’re not one of the major tech giants you’re dealing with another layer of difficulty.

This was the reality Moody's Analytics was facing. Operating as a subsidiary of Moody's Corporation, Moody's Analytics focuses on economic research for risk, performance and financial modeling. Moody's brand is well-known in the financial industry, but the name doesn't carry as much clout among eager university students looking for their first shot within the tech industry.

In our latest webinar, we got the chance to chat with Moody's Analytics Talent Director Matthew Hess, to learn more about their approach to university recruiting. Matt heads up an entry-level rotation program to give new grads a taste of working within different parts of the organization. Matt shares how they operate year-round and explains why a structured process has been so integral to their success.

What makes university recruiting so different from hiring experienced candidates? And how does that affect your process?

Matt: One of the big differences is that early talent is more open to what they’re looking for. Students may have some skills and their go-to languages, but they aren’t always entirely sure what they’re looking for in a job yet. Whereas experienced candidates are often targeting specific teams, projects, or companies they want to work for.

Because students are more open in their search, it forces us to be more efficient in our process. This means setting expectations and fully following through. Often students are juggling multiple offers and engaging with lots of other companies. If we want a good chance at hiring someone we need to be proactive in our follow up. This means efficiently deciding which candidates to move forward so we can quickly get back on their radar and increase the chances that they’ll engage in our opportunity.

Tell us about your process. How did you go about finding qualified candidates?

Matt: Our strategy is to visit a list of targeted universities for career fairs. But the number of candidate resumes we walk away with after every event can be quite overwhelming. After a certain point, the resumes tend to blend together. Experience, internships, skills--they all start to sound very similar. Sifting through the high volume can be daunting.

To aid our process we added another layer of using a pre-screen method. After we’ve identified a collection of resumes with the top skills we’re looking for, we then send out a coding assessment using HackerRank to help weed out unqualified candidates.

From there we typically bring them on-site for what we call “Super Day.” This is meant for candidates to get a sense of our office environment and then go through a few rounds of interviews with some of our management team who they’d be interacting with daily.

So if you’re using pre-screen tools in your process, does GPA really matter from your perspective?

Matt: It is important but it’s not an exclusive deal-breaker. We typically look for candidates with a 3.0 and above. Their degree is another non-exclusive factor. We’re looking for the brightest talent so at the end of the day coding skills are coding skills, regardless of what you got your degree in. If someone has the relevant skills that we’re looking for and an interest in our company then we don’t want to exclude them just because they decided to major in something different.

“We’re looking for the brightest talent so at the end of the day coding skills are coding skills, regardless of what you got your degree in.”

How are you getting candidate feedback from evaluators in order to make candidate decisions?

Matt: If we’re unsure about a candidate’s abilities we’re able to look back at their coding assessment with visibility into each individual submission per question. There have been instances where a candidate passes the coding assessment and moves on to the next round but the hiring manager has some reservations about their technical ability during the skill portion of the interview. Referring back to their submission helps drive discussions and helps us close the loop.

Another way to leverage their coding submissions is by building on some of the questions when they come on-site. This provides some continuity in the interview experience and is something we’re looking to do more of.

When is your highest university recruiting season and how do you plan your year accordingly?

Matt: The end of summer/early fall, going into career fair season, that’s usually when we’re busiest.

We do have a pretty robust summer internship program that we hire candidates from but for many, they still have another year of schooling left when they complete the program. This leaves us with a large window of time until the university deadline to make offers.

We have a number of initiatives to keep candidates engaged within this time. Things like pairing them up with buddies during their senior year to talk about their experiences with or sending best of luck on finals care packages. We try to plan one of these activities per month to help round out the candidate experience.

Interested in learning more? Watch the full webinar:

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