The current crop of graduates may be entering the best job market in 10 years, according to a recent SHRM article. Two out of three employers plan on hiring new college graduates, which is great news for the economy and job seekers alike.
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But for the folks doing the hiring, evaluating candidates who are fresh out of school can be a challenge. Most of these candidates won't have long lists of professional references or established career track records to evaluate. You may have to look past the resume to spot the real person underneath.
For instance, your best prospect might have spent her college years working part-time as a coffee shop barista and juggling a heavier-than-average class load instead of honing her GPA and landing coveted internships. So how can you identify that diamond in the rough?
The first step is to realize that things like the highest GPA and best internships don't automatically tell you who's the best hire. It's better to focus on who is the best fit for your workplace culture. Here are five tips that can help you do just that:
1. Attract the Right Candidates With a Detailed Job Description
The ideal candidate needs to fulfill the job requirements and fit in with your current group, so instead of pulling copy from a generic job description online, determine exactly what you're looking for and come up with a detailed description that is specific to your company and your needs. Be sure to weave your company's core values into the ad to give prospects a taste of your culture.
2. Use Personality Tests and Assessments to Find Great Matches
Resources like the DISC behavior tool, core values tests, and skills assessments can be incredibly useful ways to get insights into how candidates will work with teams and react to different personality types. By using these widely available tools, you'll be able to create an ideal employee template that you can apply across candidates for a more objective hiring process.
3. Explore Culture-Specific Questions in the Interview
Finding the right workplace match is a lot like finding a mate: It pays to find out whether you're a good fit for one another before you invest a lot of time and money in the relationship. Define what makes your company culture unique – e.g., teamwork, commitment to service and/or ongoing learning, etc. – and probe candidates for those traits during your interviews.
4. Bring the Team into the Interview Process
Consider inviting employees who will work with the new hire to join the interview or at least participate in a portion of it. Encourage them to ask questions about operations and how the candidate would deal with specific scenarios. They'll bring valuable new perspectives, and you'll have an opportunity to observe how candidates gel with your team.
5. Focus on Onboarding When You Find a Keeper
Turnover tends to be high in entry-level positions, so be sure you think beyond the interview process and implement effective onboarding and training processes to welcome new hires. Check in with new additions from time to time to make sure they've got the tools they need to do the job and are adjusting to the position well.
Adding a new employee to the mix is an exciting time for a business, but it's important to handle it carefully, especially when you're bringing recent graduates on board who may not have work histories to examine. Academic records, internships, part-time jobs and references can provide some clues about these candidates, but there's always much more to a person than what appears on the resume.
Remember that the best candidate may not have the highest GPA or most impressive work history. So much depends on how well the new hire will fit in at your organization. The right attitude, a willingness to learn, and a desire to help others are intangible qualities that may be hard to spot on paper. But if you approach the interview process with your values and culture in mind and follow these five tips, you'll be well on your way to finding your diamond in the rough.
Tonya Lanthier is a registered dental hygienist and the CEO of DentalPost.