A lack of experience and limited references make hiring entry-level employees anything but easy. But businesses of all sizes rely heavily on placing post-grads and industry "newbies" in these junior positions.

With the right guidelines you can gain a great roster of new workers to grow with your company. Follow these tips when hiring entry-level employees and you'll find yourself with better quality candidates that don't just do their job but excel at it.

1) Position your company as an attractive employer for recent grads.

There is an undeniable gap between companies and college students, which is why finding quality candidates is so difficult at this level. Rather than attempt to promote specific positions to younger candidates, consider advertising your company as a whole. Whether running a social media campaign or setting up a website specifically geared to recruitment, find a way to showcase your company's qualities and values so that you attract likeminded individuals to your team rather than applicants solely interested in a certain job title.

2) Look for achievement outside of traditional education.

Since many entry-level applicants are straight out of college they lack the real world experience typically used to gauge skill. In lieu of time spent on the job, evaluate your applicant's extracurricular activities and involvement while in school. Participation in a group or organization shows initiative and drive outside of the typical graduation requirements. Take special note to leadership roles, awards earned and those who built something out of nothing. Did the candidate hold a position, such as president or secretary, which required a heightened commitment? Did she initiate an on-campus cleanup because one ceased to exist? Any sign of going above and beyond is a good indication that this individual will give 100% to your company.

3) Skew from traditional interview questions.

Some of the standard talking points for interviewing a candidate won't suffice when filling entry-level positions. Shift the emphasis from "what have you done" to "how did you do it?" and rather than "who are you?" aim for "how did you become that way?" With younger employees there may be a lack of accomplishment, but every individual has faced challenges and life experiences that have molded them into the type of person they are today. By changing your approach to interviewing you'll learn important information, such as what this individual might do in a crisis, their thinking process when it comes to challenges, and how they work with others.

4) Give homework.

No matter how thorough an interview you conduct there is never a guarantee that an employee will perform in the same manner they portray themselves in that short window. In other words, what we say and what we do is often few and far between. To avoid any surprises down the road, never hire an employee without first conducting a test run. Whether it's assigning a sample project not unlike something they might tackle in their new role or an exercise that will reveal some of their true qualities when interviewing it's best to let actions speak louder than words.

5) Don't overlook the importance of onboarding.

One reason companies have trouble with entry-level turnover is they set employees loose right after hiring them without providing any guidance. Rather than assuming your new hires will adapt to their environment and responsibilities, help ease them into their role with an onboard training plan that spans across the first four to six months. Establish different types of skill and team-building exercises to familiarize new employees with the company's protocols and create an atmosphere that encourages open communication.

Published on: Nov 23, 2015
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