Interviews typically focus on both the education and the work experience of the candidate. In the case of recent graduates, however, the work experience is often not as much a factor to be considered.
Below are some ideas that you could integrate into your interview process with new graduates that may provide additional insight into their readiness for entering the workforce and your organization.
What do you plan to contribute to the organization?
Ask your candidate what they feel they can contribute as a new hire, knowing what they know about your organization already and applying their education to this position.
Demonstrate job-specific skills
If the opening is in marketing, ask them to prepare a press release about the organization. If the opening is for a software engineer, provide a short test to assess their skill level.
Temp to perm
Many companies will bring an employee on first as a contractor to assess their skills and performance before making a permanent offer of employment.
Interview outside of the box
Invite a candidate to lunch with a current client or ask them to review a live proposal the company is working on and provide their input. This will give you an idea of how the candidate responds to different, non-standard interview situations and how well they think on their feet.
Focus less on experience, more on trainability
Naturally, most new graduates will not have a lot of experience in the beginning. Focus the interview questions and evaluate their responses around their ability to be trained for the current opening. Can they take direction? Do they appear to be open-minded? Are they eager to learn?
Provide a real world problem to solve
During the interview process, pair the candidate with an employee who is currently working on a problem in their field of study. Get feedback from the employee on how well they responded under pressure and if they were able to contribute to the process. Their ideas do not have to solve the problem, or even be good ideas. The more important thing is that they had ideas and were able to collaborate with others.
Are we a good fit for you?
Most interviews focus on why the candidate is a good fit for the company. Turn it around and ask the candidate why the company would be a good fit for them. This will provide some insight as to what they are expecting from your organization and what interests them about the job. This insight may also help with retention down the road, should an offer of employment be extended.
CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.