How to Interview Students and Entry Level Candidates
One easy aspect of interviewing job candidates who bring years of experience is that you can readily discern their job skills. While the picture is murkier with recent graduates and other people who do not have much job experience, there are still tricks you can use. To effectively interview students and entry level candidates, use a few techniques to draw them out, focus on transferable skills and determine how motivated they are to work for your company.
Explain Up Front How They Should Answer
One aspect that some people forget to mention when explaining how to interview students and entry level candidates is this: assume that candidates do not know the best ways to answer your questions. Put them at ease by explaining how they should structure their answers. For instance, ïWhen you reply to each question, it’s fine to talk about examples of any class work you did that applies to the situation. If you happen to have any job experience that connects, please discuss that as well. Whether you talk about class work or job experience, I’m particularly interested in finding out about your decision-making processes and specific results.ï Don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions for clarification, as you would with any candidate. Such questions could go along these lines:
-What happened after you realized that was a problem
-So what was your final grade Was it fair
-Do you think that class (or project) was useful in preparing you for the work world
Assess Four Key Areas
Research into how to interview students and entry level candidates suggests that you ask scenario-based questions. They lend insight into applicants’ time management, organization, problem-solving and communications skills. In many cases, how the applicant answers the question is just as important as the answer itself. Look at factors such as processing time and whether answers are on target or off point. Here are some good sample questions:
-How do you organize your day
-How do you prioritize your tasks
-Think about a problem you had in class, any problem. What did you do about it, and how did you make sure it would not happen again What problem-solving skills did you practice in this process (Of course, do not ask all of these questions at the same time. Ask one question, and adapt the follow-up queries as needed.)
-Did you seem to notice the same types of problems cropping up at school Why do you think that is What could you do to change that
-Who is/was your favorite professor Why What would he/she say about you
-What about the professor who you least liked What would that person say
-If you are hired and you have a problem at work, how would you approach your supervisor or colleagues about it
Does the Applicant Truly Want to Work for Your Company
When you have little work experience, it’s normal to want to boost your resume by getting a job, any job. However, many interviewers want their candidates to be at least a little bit picky. To that end, advice on how to interview students and entry level candidates calls for asking questions that show how thoroughly the applicant researched your company. For example:
-What are the first three words that pop into your head when you think about this job or this company
-What do you think this organization does well
-What do our competitors do correctly
-What could we stand to improve on
-Why do you want to work here
-Why did you decide to apply for this job
-What is your understanding of this position What details do you need to know more about
If an applicant shows very little understanding of the company or job, she likely did not care enough to research the position. Likewise, if she does not need to know more about the job, she may not be innately interested in the position. Another way to test the applicant’s level of desire is to explain about probation periods and how they are measured. How does your company assess performance in the first month or year on the job Pay attention to how receptive and engaged the applicant is.
Because it’s critical to hire a person who is compatible with the values of your organization, ask questions about values, too. For example, you can ask:
-What are the top three values someone in this position should have Do you have these values
-What are your personal values (possible answers include trustworthiness and reliability)
-Talk about a situation in which you were especially reliable (or another value taken from the answer to the above question).
As you conduct further research into how to interview students and entry level candidates, turn to the resources here at Mighty Recruiter for guidance.