Zurich Tweaks Graduate Internships: Diversity Beats Competency

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Insurer Zurich UK is changing its graduate hiring process to cater for generation Covid after two years of lockdown scuppered young peoples’ chances to gain work experience.

The lack of internships and work placements during the pandemic has left graduates with less real-world experience than previous generations as they enter the jobs market. Around a quarter of these young people now feel that they have been unable to gain the right employability skills during their studies.

Unpaid, or low paid expenses-only internships are one of the more controversial aspects of graduate hiring, as they favour the children of wealthy parents, who can afford to pay their bills while they work for free. Working class graduates don’t enjoy the same privilege and must find paid work. No internships, no gap year in Thailand and India, just a shift at McDonalds or Pret.

That real need to earn an income neatly excludes working class graduates from the networking opportunity that an internship offers.

With applications for graduates opening on the 12th of September, Zurich UK says it has adapted its hiring process “to ensure that these applicants are not penalised for having fewer life events to draw on in the assessment process.”

That is an astonishing statement since it assumes that poorer students don’t have “life events,” when in reality they may have to overcome more dramatic events such as physical violence in the home, a volatile education environment, local gang culture, serious illness or injury affecting a family member or friend etc.


To achieve this, continues Zurich, competency-based interviews have been scrapped in favour of strength-based assessments to ensure candidates from diverse backgrounds are not at a disadvantage. In addition, the insurer will help to identify candidates who may not match criteria for one role but may be more suitable for another area of the business.

Zurich will also ensure that every applicant who takes part in the assessment process, successful or not, receives detailed feedback to help them on their journey. The bespoke report will detail strengths and areas for development to help aid future job applications.


To support neurodiverse applicants, Zurich has also removed group interviews from its recruitment process, which can unfairly disadvantage these candidates. It is estimated that one in seven people have conditions that are linked with neurodiversity.

With its new hiring process, Zurich also aims to create a level playing field for graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have had the same opportunities to gain the same work and life experience as their peers.

The new graduate process will also offer candidates a new immersive online assessment which has been developed with HR tech company and strengths experts, Cappfinity. This will provide candidates with a realistic insight into what it’s like to work both within Zurich and the insurance industry.

Michelle Ransome, Zurich’s Head of Talent Acquisition said: “We really want to create a level-playing field for all graduates to ensure we genuinely attract the best person for every role.  Candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as recent graduates hit by lockdown, may not have had the same opportunities and life experiences as others.

“We also know that people with neurodiverse conditions can bring a range of valuable skills to the workplace, and by adapting our recruitment process we can tap into a much wider source of talent.”

Applications for the 2023 graduate scheme will open on the 12th of September and close on the 30th of October 2022.


If you want to level the playing field for graduates then pay them as Interns, pay them the going rate. That allows the working class to get a foot in the door. Be the best by hiring the best person for the role. That would be actual equality of opportunity, regardless of social background or connections made at Uni.


About alastair walker 11341 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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