5 Questions for Hiring Managers to Ask During a Recent Grad Interview

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By Lisa Hutchinson

Topics: Hiring


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Hiring recent grads can be a great business decision. However, interviewing them can be tricky. They often don’t have the typical experience you’d ask about during an interview. Since they have limited workplace experience, it may be difficult to identify their skills.

Still, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to hire recent graduates. They can become invaluable to your organization.

You can make sure you’re hiring the right grad by using these five questions in interviews.

1. “What’s the Hardest Thing You’ve Ever Done?”

Most recent graduates lack extensive work experience acquired over time in the professional workplace. As a result, you can’t really ask them about difficult projects they’ve completed or how they’ve dealt with difficult clients or customers.

What you can ask, however, is what they think is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. This gives you some insight into what they find challenging. Graduates who tell you about managing difficult groupmates during a challenging senior project or mention working hard to meet stringent deadlines often have the same problem-solving skills and work ethic as those with more work experience.

2. “How Does This Job Fit into Your Overall Career Plan?”

Young people—including recent graduates—tend to be optimistic and idealistic. They may not have a structured roadmap to their careers since they haven’t yet tested different paths. Therefore, asking them “Where do you see yourself in five years?” might not get you the answer you’re hoping to hear.

Instead, ask them how this particular job fits into their overall career plans. Many graduates have a decent idea of where they’d like to end up, even if they haven’t worked out the individual steps. Everyone has to start somewhere, but a grad who can tell you about which skills and experience this role will help them develop has a good idea of the path ahead.

3. “Were You Involved in Extracurricular Activities?”

What did this person do aside from study? Asking about extracurricular activities can provide you with some keen insight into your candidates.

First, it can tell you something about their hobbies! Is this person a real sports fanatic? It also lets you know how likely they are to socialize with their co-workers. A recent grad may be interested in joining the softball team your company puts together each year. It could indicate a good fit with your corporate culture.

Extracurricular activities also tell you about someone’s leadership abilities and work ethic, especially if they were involved in leadership roles in team activities. In short, asking this question can let you see what else this person might bring to the table!

4. “Did You Work During School or over the Summer?”

Recent grads will have likely indicated any and all work experience on their applications. Depending on the candidate and the job, however, they may not have! Some recent grads opt to omit part-time and temporary jobs in unrelated fields.

You, as the employer, want to know about these experiences. All jobs provide opportunities to develop soft skills, many of which are transferrable. Working a part-time job to help pay expenses or even earn additional spending money can tell you about the candidate’s work ethic.

5. “Why Should I Believe This Will Be Your Last Job?”

This is the candidate’s first job. You have no reason to believe it’ll be the only job they ever have. Ask them why you shouldn’t think they’ll abandon ship in a year or two to pursue an entirely different career path.

Ask these five questions of any recent grad and you’ll have a better chance of making the right choice for your business.

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Lisa Hutchinson

I started with Liberty Staffing in 2004 as the Regional Business Manager of the London office. I have over 20 years of experience in the customer service and retail sectors, as well as leadership experience including Store Management, People Development and Recruiting. In 2016, our London location moved to a larger office in order to accommodate growth of our business, which included adding a Clerical Division.

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