Assessing (and Hiring) New Grads with Limited Experience

By The Intersect Group

Graduation “season” has come and gone, but companies hire new college graduates all year long.

Newly minted bachelor’s degree holders are inundating your job board’s inbox. Some may be so-so for your position, some may be great.

But how can you know which is which?

Taking a look at new college graduates’ limited experience

First, understand that you may find a gap between what a recent grad can do and what you need them to do: Talentworks in 2018 found that 61 percent of more than 95,000 full-time positions in the U.S. for entry-level candidates required at least three years of experience.

Try to move away from only considering candidates who have already proven themselves in a job somewhat similar to your available position.

After all, if employers look for a higher level of experience than the typical new grad brings to the table, maybe it isn’t really an entry-level position?

One idea: hire your past interns

They already have some real-world experience within your company!

You might want to look at an internship program as a way to help you with your talent needs. You could create intern positions that help train them in the skills and “ways of doing things” that apply to your specific experience requirements.

But what if you need to hire for entry-level slots now and have no past interns?

Revise your assessment process and criteria

Consider focusing less on their majors, GPA, and even what school they went to.

Of course, if you’re looking for someone for an entry-level R&D role, you may want to double-check candidates’ GPAs, majors, and if they went to a school with good IT/science/engineering programs. But unless the role is so specific and absolutely requires specialty training, consider lessening their importance and focus instead on soft and hard skills and transferable skills. (Which, after all, are the ones that truly matter when someone is just getting starting.)

Hiring for attitude, trainability, culture fit, etc., can help ensure you hire a great candidate with long-term growth potential.

Don’t forget: a great way to attract and retain employees is to offer them professional development opportunities with a clear-cut career track.

The interview

If a college grad doesn’t have much job experience, the “usual” interview questions may not be best.

Instead, consider these interview questions:

  • How did you juggle your assignments over several classes each semester? (And, if applicable: And how did you do so while working a part-time job?)
  • What were your extracurricular activities? Why did you choose them? What did you learn from them, and how will that help you in your first job?
  • Did you ever have a group project go wrong, and what did you and your teammates do about it?
  • Tell me about your extracurricular leadership experience.
  • What do you bring to this role that other recent college grads don’t?

You no doubt noticed that these are variations of “Tell me about the time you had to juggle multiple priorities” and “What did you do when a work project went south?” That’s because the things a candidate did in college can help you assess how well they’ll do in their first “real job” with you.

If you need help hiring for your IT/finance/accounting positions, contact us.