The Best Way to Interview Fresh Graduates

Seven minutes—that’s the amount of time recruiters like you have to decide over an applicant in an interview. That’s also the amount of time candidates have to impress you.

But when it comes to interviewing fresh graduates, you shouldn’t be quick to judge. Most of the time, fresh grads have no idea how to do interviews. It could even be their first ever job interview after graduating college, and you’re there grilling them like how you would an experienced candidate. If you do that, you might miss on getting your best employee yet.

You can be firm and intimidating when interviewing fresh grads, but at the same time, you also need to be a little more patient and considerate. Here’s the best way you should be interviewing young blood.

Ask behavior-based questions

New grads usually don’t have much experience with work other than school projects and internships, so don’t expect them to always have the best answer to your question on how they would design a phone for deaf people (although, this would be quite interesting to hear!). Instead, ask him or her questions that illustrate skills and intelligence in other ways:

  • Tell me about a time when you had several school projects all due at once.  How did you handle the workload and get everything done?

Or when they mention that they were once the leader of some organization or sports team at school.

  • What was it like handling a team of 10 players? How were you able to pull through the challenges?

With these behavior-based questions, an employer can have a vast amount of insight on how a candidate may handle day-to-day challenges. Probably enough for you know if they’re fit for your company, specially if the’ll be working in a demanding environment.

Disregard rookie mistakes, but not red flags

Have you ever encountered interviewing someone who couldn’t look you straight in the eye? Well, some interviewers say lack of eye contact is a bad sign. But don’t simply write them off just because they keep looking down, left, or right. These could be just signs of nervousness and inexperience.

The major red flags you should look out for, however, is inappropriate clothing, being late, using his or her cellphone while in the interview, or when they answer what their greatest weakness but can’t provide answers on how to overcome

You can already tell a lot in a candidate’s potential just by observing their how they behave during the interview. Know when to say, “You’re not the right fit.”

Don’t get too personal

“For candidates with limited work experience, focus instead on classes the candidate took in college or group work within those classes to explore their knowledge and experiences relevant to the job,” advises Jennifer Loftus, founding partner and national director of the HR consulting firm Astron Solutions.

If you ask them questions about their personal lives—family, relationships, religious views, etc.—then you’re going way overboard. Employers, please just stick to asking job-related queries so your interviewee won’t squirm in anxiety.

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