5 Tips for Screening the Recent College Grad

Posted on June 5, 2014.

Not every company interviews on college campuses. It takes time, money and manpower.  If you did, then you’ve probably already filled your open positions. But if not, chances are these newly minted “millennials” are bombarding you with resumes. What’s a hiring manager to do?

I recently came across a Harvard Business Infographic entitled, "11 Reasons Why I'll Never Hire You". It’s definitely worth the read. Having interviewed dozens of college graduates, I’ve highlighted some interesting points from the article, and added a few of my own tips to help you screen the young wannabes. 

  1. It starts with the resume. The reality is that even if the applicant knows someone who knows someone, and you’ve been told to interview him or her, you need to see a resume.  Seeing how it looks is the first step in the screening process.  Too long- trash it. Too short- trash it. Spelling errors- gone. As the article points out, if it’s concise and relevant to the position, they’re worth a second look.
  2. Can they interview? The obvious screens are: did they research the company and the job; ask the right questions, dress appropriately? A really sharp applicant will find someone in the company and call them directly to find out the real skinny.  This is someone who really wants to work with you.  But beware: Colleges provide lots of interview training these days and people that come off a little too rehearsed worry me. You never really get to know the person; just how well they learned to interview.
  3.  Ask situational questions. These types of interview questions are critical in determining your applicant’s thought process and decision making ability.  Make the questions relevant to the job you are asking them to do, not necessarily one they’ve had. Their past experiences are often rehearsed, as I’ve mentioned above.  If the job is an entry-level programmer, you might ask them, “ What would you do if you were working on a critical project for your boss, but the client calls and accelerated the deadline for their work?” Use actual cases wherever possible.
  4. Check their LinkedIn profile. Not everyone may agree, but I don’t understand any college graduate who isn’t on LinkedIn. They couldn’t possible care about networking and finding a job that much so I would probably scrap them, as would the writer referenced above. If they do have one, does it match their resume? Check out their connection, as you may know someone who can provide an honest reference.
  5. Ask the people doing the job to meet the applicant.  Inviting the applicant to have lunch or breakfast with a future teammate does two things: 1)  People tend to drop their guard when they aren’t in a formal interview setting.  2)  The people actually doing the job can determine if the person will fit in to both the job and the group.  Don’t underestimate this point, as bad fit is  probably the number one reason you end up having to let someone go.

The reality is that most of these recent grads are interviewing at many places. The key is to try to figure out if your company is really their first choice.  As the article indicates, the thank you note (assuming there is one) can be a great indication of how much they want the job.  Of course, absence of any note is a deal killer.