5 New Ways to Interview College Grads; Go Beyond the Interrogation and Towards a Proactive Approach

Have you ever seen the Fox hit television show, 24? It is gripping, action-packed and beyond unrealistic, yet I am hooked every season. 24’s hero and main man, Jack Bauer, is infamous for his 9 lives and vicious interrogation tactics that pry anything he wants out of his unsuspecting victims. Looking back on a few interviews I have been on…maybe Jack Bauer was the one who was sitting on the other side of the table, not the Hiring Manager.

There’s nothing worse than getting grilled by an interviewer, when your nerves take over any charisma or personality you had walking in the door. I understand when interviewing a candidate, you want to see how they will react to pressure situations and a few curveball questions…but is that really the most effective way to judge a person’s character and true potential? As a survivor of the hot seat, here are 5 innovative ways to interview college graduates that will spare them the anxiety and showcase their true talent.

Ask Questions That Really Make Them Think

Unless they are a superstar, a college grad isn’t going to have much interviewing experience under their belt. I hate to say it, but chances are they are going to Google “Popular Interview Questions” the night before you are set to speak with them to do some last minute crunching. Instead of rattling off the cliché questions such as “Why would you be a good fit for this position?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” ask questions that challenge them to think outside of the box. By doing this, you can catch them off guard (in a good way) and really see what kind of creativity they have in that head of theirs. The truest responses are the ones that are impetuous….not from a top ten list they found on Google.

Use A Hands-On Approach

After I graduated, I interviewed for an entry-level sales position in downtown Boston. After speaking with the VP of sales for about an hour, he took me “on the floor” and had me listen to a sales representative make a few cold calls. After hearing him favorably deal with rejection and acceptance, he handed over the headset and smugly said “Here you go; now you try”. I stepped up to the plate and much to my surprise, did not bomb the call. Instead, I astonished myself and my prospective employer by dazzling them with my sweet-talking style and quick-witted responses, which is exactly what they were looking for. The question is, would they have REALLY known I possessed those skills from only having a conversation with me? Emerge your prospective candidates in your working environment to see how they react to the surroundings. If the candidate is promising, allow them to shadow an employee which would not only solidify your confidence in them, but their own assurance in your company as well.

If Money Had Nothing To Do With It…

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about Generation Y’s desire for a job with meaning versus one that puts some extra cash in their pocket. The blog was entitled “Meaning Over Money; How Companies Can Add Value to Entry-Level Pos.... These days, kids my age want a job that makes them feel fulfilled and established. Tap into this new norm by finding out their personal and professional goals and compare them to those of your company. When asking a candidate about their future goals, often times they will tell you what they think you want to hear, not what they really feel deep down. Encourage answers with honesty and integrity to get to know their true ambitions and professional aspirations.

Let Them Scope Out Their Competition At An Interview Day

They say you run faster when you race another person versus running by yourself. Competition fuels motivation and is a catalyst for giving that something extra. When a candidate interviews solo, they have no idea what caliber applicants they are stacked up against. Interview Days bring out the ambition in candidates, giving them the mindset of “I’m better than these other guys, and I’m going to show it”. These events are not only convenient for a company; they bring out a candidate’s competitive fire.

Get To Know Their Personality, Not Just Their Resume

Most interview questions revolve around a candidate’s experience, education and professional potential. What I want to know is, what bucket does their favorite TV show fall in to? Or what about the best concert they have ever been to? You can have an applicant who easily rattles off the 20 numbers subsequent to the decimal point in pi…but does that mean they are the right man (or woman) for the job? A person can be a perfect fit on paper, but doesn’t quite fit into the company culture. A candidate’s ability to suitably fit into a corporate culture is just as important as the credentials they encompass. Dig deep into their personalities, their backgrounds and determine what kind of non-monetary value they will bring to your company.

So the next time your company is looking for that new kid on the block who knocks your socks off in an interview, use these methods and you are sure to snag the perfect employee.

Do you have any unique interview methods? Share your tips and ideas here

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Tags: college, corporate, graduates, interview, jcsi, methods, staffing, unique

Comment by Hassan Rizwan on November 17, 2009 at 4:41am
The only question i have in my mind..............You look like an interviewer yourself not a canddidate, don't you? My pick of the article is "You can have an applicant who easily rattles off the 20 numbers subsequent to the decimal point in pi…but does that mean they are the right man (or woman) for the job? " I agree with this more than anyone else. We have revolutionized this concept in our organization and never focus on those clitche questions more than 5 minutes in an interview. The rest is all based on situations and the candidate's response on that.

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