Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

This Week’s Question: Recent graduates comprise a large and valuable talent pool. Problem is, not all of these grads have work experience or extensive portfolios to prove their value. When you come across a recent grad with little or no work experience, how do you assess whether or not they’re right for your company?

Steve1. Gauge Their Passion

I don’t think having relevant experience or a portfolio proves anything. When we are hiring, we look for a hustler, someone who will find a way. We don’t want someone to let their resume do the talking – we want to hear from them.

For us, the things that are most important are passion, hustle, and intelligence. Those things aren’t obvious on your resume. When
Airbnb was first hiring, the story goes that the founder asked candidates, “If you had one year of your life left to live, would you still want to work here?” Answers to those kinds of questions are way more telling than any resume bullet.

Steve Feiner, A Better Florist

Lynda2. Look at Their Coursework

I look for graduates who took challenging courses, often in non-obvious majors. I like candidates who didn’t take the easy route to a degree. In my experience, outliers who took odd majors are often the most interesting people.

Lynda Spiegel, Rising Star Resumes

James3. How Have They Performed in Similar Contexts?

Performance in past experiences is a good indicator of future performance to some extent. Performance in situations drawing upon similar skills to those needed in the job can be quite valuable. Recruiters have long sought former college athletes due to the demand in athletics to set goals, work hard to achieve them, and respond to coaching in a constructive manner.

Dr. James I. Millhouse, Atlanta Psychological Associates

Miles4. Consider Their Individual Fit

The easy thing to do with recent grads is to look at academic performance. However, academic success doesn’t always translate into professional success. Try to assess what areas the grad will need support and training in, and make sure that your company will be able to offer the right level of support in each area. Gauge how fast the individual will be able to come up to speed – not just in general, but in your particular work environment, given your individual training programs.

Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

Vern5. Ask the Right Questions

In the absence of an extensive portfolio, the resume should identify skills the candidate brings to the position, and the interview should include questions and scenarios designed to confirm those skills and abilities. For example, if someone professed to have good problem-solving skills and ability to prioritize and multitask, they’d be given a scenario to describe how they would manage those task in real life.

Vern May, Minnedosa & Area Community Development Corporation

Angelina6. Pay Attention to Their Interview Skills

When a candidate has limited experience, assess their fit for the role by paying attention to their approach to the entire interview process. Are they doing research and asking educated questions? Have they done any informational interviews to learn more about the role and company? Do they arrive on time? Are they being timely in their follow-up? Are there any projects you can assign as part of the interview process to see if they can get it?

Angelina Darrisaw, C-Suite Coach

Alex7. What do Their Resumes Say?

In showbiz, they say “Show, don’t tell.” That should also be true for a recent grad’s resume. A good application stands out because it shows the candidate’s skills and experience in one glance. Recent grads have to communicate a clear message with their resumes: “Why I will be good at role X / company Y / industry Z.”

The most promising resumes show an active and passionate applicant. Participation in groups, volunteering, or even blogging – relevant to an applicant’s aspirations and interests – all show initiative, leadership, and a knack for communication.

Alex Kilmpasanis, Blind Applying

Manraj8. What Are Their Goals and Ambitions?

A recent graduate’s goals and ambitions give me an insight into the individual as a person, and they also provide me with a good idea as to what their motives are. Are they simply looking for a job, or are they here for a career?

Manraj Chhina, Claimable

Gabriela9. Get a Feel for Their Personality and Lifestyle

Fitting in with the company’s culture is big part of the puzzle! Many skills can be learned from training and on-the-job experience, but finding candidates who fit a company’s culture is critical. It allows us to better understand if new hires will work well with the existing team and if the company’s brand and mission suits their lifestyle and interests.

Gabriela De Sousa, Recruiting Social

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