Multiple Interview Opportunities
After offering congratulations and finding out all the relevant details of the placement, my next line of questioning relates to any outstanding applications that the student has made. For the vast majority, this is simply a question of tying up loose ends. If an employer contacts them for an interview, politely decline explaining that they have now secured a placement elsewhere and so are no longer available. This leaves things on good terms for the future, particularly if the student wants to pursue opportunities with that organisation later on in their career.
Where my stomach turns, is when a student says they have interviews coming up in the next couple of weeks with Company B and Company C, despite already having signed a contract with Company A. This is a scenario that is thankfully uncommon, but is one that presents a dilemma for a Placement Officer.
The Bigger Picture
On the one hand, you want your students to find the right placement for them. For the next 12 months they will be undertaking the first steps in their professional career and the experience should be one in which they can flourish. However, as a Placement Officer you have to look at the bigger picture and recognise that your responsibilities lie not just with your students.
If an employer has a negative experience from one of my students, it does not reflect well on the University. We build relationships over the long term with placement providers to ensure that our students have a wide range of opportunities available to them. If one of our students performs a u-turn after signing a contract, it could easily sour the relationship with the employer. At a time when universities across the country are branching out into placements ahead of the 2012 tuition fees, these are employers that we can dearly afford to lose.
Worth The Risk?
For the student, it is also a question of professionalism.
Were the roles to be reversed and a company continued to interview until they found a better candidate, the student would rightly be outraged at having their placement taken away from them.
I am sympathetic towards students who find themselves in this situation. In a perfect world, having spent long hours making applications you obviously would want to see all of your options before making a decision. However, once you have accepted a placement offer and signed that contract, it is time to step back from the recruitment process. At this early point in their career, is it worth the risk of getting blacklisted by recruiters for the sake of touting for a better offer? I would say not.
Comment below what you think about attending interviews after one has been offered a placement. Is it being competitive or ethical?