Interviewing graduates is a daunting experience, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the interviewing process. Many graduates are bursting with potential, yet sadly this seldom comes across in interviews. However, knowing how to interview graduates effectively is another weapon in your arsenal during the hunt for that ‘perfect’ graduate employee.
Conducting an interview is a major step in the process of hiring a graduate employee – arguably even the most important step. Not only do you get to see a candidate face to face, but it is a chance to gain an insight into their character and whether they will fit with company culture.
Your role as the interviewer focuses on two key aspects: conveying and obtaining information.
- Conveying information about your company in a clear and concise way.
- Obtaining information about your candidate.
Follow this handy guide for the 8 must-know, do’s, and don’ts when interviewing graduates.
DO match the professional standards you expect of your candidates
There are several things you would expect of a candidate: to arrive on time, dress appropriately, and to have carried out some independent research. The same applies to you.
Set an example. Arrive on time. Dress professionally. Familiarise yourself with the candidate’s CV or job application. Ask only appropriate questions.
DON’T make snap judgments
Remember, an interviewee (especially a graduate) is more likely to be nervous than you are.
It might be their first formal interview and might be unfamiliar with the way they should conduct themselves. First impressions are not always accurate, so don’t make snap judgments. How do you know you’re not missing out on a great hire?
As the interview continues graduates are more likely to grow in confidence, making them more at ease when answering questions. You’re looking for the best candidate for the job, and unfortunately, this cannot be ascertained before the end of the interview.
DO be aware of your body language
Non-verbal communication is equally as important as what you say. Body language can reveal a lot about what you’re thinking or feeling. Candidates can interpret your subconscious body language; the last thing you want to make them feel is that you are disinterested in what they are saying.
Sit in a relaxed, open, attentive position. Make appropriate eye contact and resist the temptation to fidget, yawn, scratch, etc.
DON’T vary your questions from candidate to candidate
Keep a level playing field for every interviewee. What we mean is ask every candidate the same core questions. Of course, it’s expected to ask follow-up questions, but this depends on the initial answers given. Ensure that the core questions are the same so you can compare the performance of each candidate against one another.
DO be thoroughly prepared for the graduate questions
As you reach the conclusion of the interview, invite the graduate to ask any questions of their own. Many are predictable, for example: ‘daily responsibilities’ and ‘start dates’, but be prepared to answer the odd curveball.
‘Outline your company’s mission statement’
‘Projected market position?’
‘Stance on environmental sustainability’
These candidates are brimming with potential and excitement. As a result, they might wish to show of both their knowledge and passion in some of these more obscure questions.
Are you able / do you feel comfortable answering?
DON’T forget to let the graduate know what to expect post-interview
As you begin to end the interview (arguably the best bit for interviewer and interviewee alike), remember to let the candidate know what they can expect the next steps to be.
Thank them for their time. Ideally, you want to tell them how they will be contacted (by phone, email) and the latest date they will hear a response.
DO make a professional job offer
Once you’ve made it through all the interviews (congratulations in advance) make sure you send the successful graduate a professional job offer. Read our blog >> How to make a job offer << for a step-by-step guide and accompanying DigitalGrads Job Offer Letter template (you’re welcome!)
DON’T ignore unsuccessful candidates
Ultimately, this is the most important step when interviewing graduates.
Every interview graduates attend is a learning experience. Make sure you provide constructive criticism to unsuccessful candidates and tips for improvement.
We’ve all been in their shoes. Unfortunately, as much as we might like, we cannot hire every candidate that graces us with their CV. However, make sure you know how to give constructive interview feedback so hopefully, they can be successful in the future.