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  • Major the Key Factor Between Otherwise Equal Candidates

    August 16, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Two hiring managers debate over two final job candidates for an open position.

    TAGS: internships, trends and predictions, surveys, nace insights, co_ops

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    If employers are deliberating between two otherwise equally qualified candidates for an internship/co-op position, what characteristics would have the most influence on their eventual decision to hire one over the other?

    Employers responding to NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey said the candidates’ major was, by far, the most influential characteristic, followed by GPA and if a candidate had held a leadership position. (See Figure 1.)

    Having been involved in extracurricular activities was somewhat influential, while having done volunteer work and the candidates’ school were of very little influence.

    These results were consistent with responses in 2016. In addition, the influence of these various characteristics did not differ between candidates for internship positions and candidates for co-op positions.

    NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey was conducted from November 21, 2016, to February 17, 2017, from NACE employer members; there were 276 respondents, representing 26.4 percent of all eligible respondents. The 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey report is available to participants through MyNACE. An executive summary of the 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey is available on NACEWeb.

    Figure 1: Influence of applicant characteristics

    Characteristic Interns Co-ops
    2016 2017 2016 2017
    % Influential
    Major 70.4% 71.1% 74.5% 73.8%
    High GPA (3.0 or above) 55.6% 53.1% 57.1% 55.7%
    Has held a leadership position 58.9% 63.2% 52.0% 58.5%
    Has been involved in extracurricular activities 39.7% 45.9% 29.6% 45.5%
    Has done volunteer work 13.1% 22.4% 10.2% 22.0%
    School attended 23.2% 16.6% 32.7% 20.3%
    Source: 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers.