Entry level jobs can be especially tricky to recruit for. Unlike recruiting for roles that have a more seasoned candidate base, hiring managers often have to read between the lines and determine if a candidate will be successful based on limited work experience and how the candidate presents themselves in the interview process. Because of this, knowing what to ask the candidate during the interview is integral to a successful hire. When you are ready to interview your next entry-level hire, make sure you keep these 5 questions in mind. (* Updated 15/11/2017)
1. What made you decide to apply for this job?
This one seems obvious but it’s important to ask. You’d be surprised how many candidates can’t really answer this question, or answer it in a way that underwhelms such as “I need a job and this was hiring.” Candor is a plus, and in situations like this is a huge benefit. It gets bad candidates in and out the door faster.
2. What part of your previous experience do you think translates to being successful here?
This can seem like a trick question, especially if the candidate doesn’t have much traditional work experience. What you’re really looking to find out is how quickly a candidate can come up with a cohesive, impactful response. Many entry-level candidates will have little to no experience to call on, so this gives you a peek into how quickly they can solve a problem when there is an obvious barrier in their way.
3. What do you see your day to day being in this role?
This is a must to ask. By asking the candidate to tell you what they see as their day to day responsibilities, you will get a great idea of how well they will fit to the role. If they think they will be running the marketing department as an entry level analyst and refuse to accept why they wouldn’t be given the chance, you can assume they are a bit out of touch and may be a problem to manage later on. If you let them know politely though that they are a bit off and they take it in stride and with an unflagging enthusiasm for the opportunity, there is a good chance you’ve found a winner.
4. How would you approach a superior with a suggestion, problem, or criticism?
This question gives you a peek into how the candidate could handle team dynamics and the problems that may arise, as well as how they deal with addressing issues that may need supervision from management. No one wants a subordinate that’s constantly making a mountain out of a molehill or going over their head on petty issues, but it can be just as damaging if the employee is too timid to bring problems to light until it’s too late. Use this to get an idea of their conflict resolution skills and how much confidence they have in dealing with uncomfortable situations.
5. What do you hope to learn from this job?
This is a round of finding out their strengths and weaknesses.
Sure, you can ask them that directly, but do you think any candidate will actually tell you they are horrible at reports or have never run a campaign for a client? Entry-level candidates will probably have a lot they want to learn, so pay close attention to what they say as compared to their resume or previous experiences and why. Couple this with how much training you can provide for the role and you’ll be able to tell how well the prospect matches up. If they are looking to learn an entirely new skill set and you don’t have the time train, the position may not be the best fit and you’d want to look for someone looking to grow their current skillset more fully through daily application. Conversely, if you have a strong training program and the person is extra motivated to start on something new and could make a big impact, it only makes sense that you hire and train them, not give the position to someone that would be uninterested in receiving training for new skills.
The questions you ask in the interview process will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. With entry-level candidates though you can usually ask two to three of the above questions to get a good feel for how they would perform in your company and the role. You know your company and the position best, so feel free to adapt these questions as you see fit. Best of luck making your next great entry level hire.
Sean Little is the VP of Marketing for FirstJob.com. FirstJob matches current students and recent college graduates with internships and quality career opportunities. Sean also runs FirstJob’s campus ambassador program at campuses across the country, helping students learn marketing topics while connecting them with top brands and job opportunities.