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Hawkins\Brown's Hazel York: how to avoid the recruitment pitfalls

Hawkins\Brown has recruited nearly 20 people in the past three months. Partner Hazel York discusses how to prepare for working in practice

Has it been hard to find people of the right quality?
No, not at all. We’ve recruited some fantastic people – the calibre is really high. We have a good industry profile and we’re AJ100 Employer of the Year, which helps. The summer is the best time to recruit as it’s when most students are looking for work. We visit the end-of-year shows with an eye on finding the best students. It’s worth that extra investment.

What is the biggest mistake applicants make?
Not doing research before the interview. We want someone who understands our ethos and approach, is interested in our projects and can become part of the Hawkins\Brown family.

What makes a CV stand out?
We want to access the important information quickly – where and what you studied, professional experience and extra curricular interests. ‘Less is more’ when it comes to samples of work. A few really good drawings, models or photographs that demonstrate a range of skills with minimal explanation have the most impact.

What advice do you have for graduate applicants?

  1. Aim high! Write a list of the top 10 places you would like to work and try them first.
  2. Use the telephone to find out if they are hiring. Don’t waste time sending speculative CVs.
  3. Apply early. It demonstrates that you are well organised.

Are schools preparing students for real life in practice?
Controversially, yes, I think they are. We are looking for people who are bright, enthusiastic and creative; who don’t always take things at face value, and who have a good work ethic. Architecture school is a good grounding for all these things. A few years ago we would ask people about their IT skills, but now it isn’t relevant. Computer skills are second nature to our young people. Other things can be learned on the job.

We are looking for people who are bright, enthusiastic and creative

Are there architecture schools that you prefer to recruit from?
Not particularly, although we have ties with some schools through teaching or research projects, such as Sheffield University. Their students have a socially conscious approach that fits our ethos. We also take a lot of students from the Bartlett. Their understanding of narrative and the wider context translate well into our studio, and their work ethic is fantastic. But we aim for a mixing pot of ideas and approaches.

What could students do above and beyond study to equip them for working in your practice?
You can learn so much more about someone from their interests and passions, than from their final grade. The key is how students reflect on experiences and turn them into something meaningful and useful in the workplace.

Readers' comments (1)

  • l.miranda

    Maybe the best candidate of all... is already working on his own..! Or are you looking for second choice?..

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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