13 Ways To Vet A Recent College Grad

A recent college grad might be the perfect candidate for your job — here’s how to find out.


What’s your best advice for vetting a recent college grad (who may not have much formal work experience)?


1. Ask Them to Pitch You

SAM SAXTON“It’s not a new way to interview for salespeople, but when people apply for a sales job with little experience, we always have them research our company and pitch us like a client. We look to see if they can make the jump to solving the emotional pain of our clients – not just the obvious physical pain. That, combined with how well they prepared, speaks to their interest level in the job.”


SAM SAXTON, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs


2. Talk to Former Professors

Jay Wu“A new college graduate does not have much experience, which can make it hard to learn about his or her background. In my company, I ask for professors from college as a reference. By talking to the teachers, I am able to learn more about the potential employee. I also ask for a personal reference outside the family, which allows me to get a character reference.”


JAY WU, A Forever Recovery


3. Present the Grad With a Project

ROBERT J. MOORE, RJMetrics“Give the grad a project up front before you hire him or her. We typically give multi-part projects that increase in difficulty as they are assigned and completed. This allows the truly viable candidates to quickly stand out without a large amount of incremental work on your end.”




4. Ask About Their Side Projects

ADAM LIEB“The most capable people always tend to work on side projects. Ask them what they’ve worked on outside of school and outside of any jobs or internships they have. It doesn’t matter if it is related to your business or not. Ask about side projects and passions; smart people will wow you.”




5. Look at Everything They’ve Done

Heather Huhman“Graduates worth their salt who have limited work experience will pull together everything they participated in during college (internships, volunteering, clubs, courses, etc.). Even though these might not directly involve the job you need to fill, they should have the foundation skills necessary to do it right. Give them a chance to show how their experiences will impact the role.”


HEATHER HUHMAN, Come Recommended


6. Assess Their Motivation and Technical Skills

CHUCK COHN, Varsity Tutors“Dive into WHY an applicant is interested in your role. Where does he want to be in five years? How does he define himself professionally? You will quickly learn what motivates him, which will allow you to determine if the role is a fit. Then, of course, you’ll want to assess his technical skills with detailed questions or by giving him an opportunity to showcase his talents.”


CHUCK COHN, Varsity Tutors


7. Confirm Their Passion for Startups

MANPREET SINGH, Seva Call“Potential hires should be enthusiastic about all sides of a small business. In startups, all members must participate, even in doing the dirty work. Ask potentials what makes them interested in working with a startup and what their interests are outside of their fields. If they are interested in a wide range of topics, they will probably relate better to the changing roles in a small business.”




8. Learn How They Work

SUSAN STRAYER LAMOTTE“A candidate might not have extensive work experience, but he or she might have behavioral tendencies. Give candidates hypothetical tasks and projects to see how they go about accomplishing them. They might not know all the right steps, but how they approach each task will tell you if they fit. We also teach our clients to clearly define their cultures to help candidates self-select.”




9. Test Their Eagerness to Learn

Kelsey“I’m fine hiring a college grad without much experience, but only if she has a willingness and eagerness to learn. In interviews, we always ask what the person has learned or taught herself recently. If she can’t name one new skill or a bit of information she recently acquired, she most likely doesn’t have the intellectual curiosity for our team.”


KELSEY MEYER, Influence & Co.


10. Give Them a Problem to Solve

Benish Shah“Startups need problem-solvers, and problem-solvers don’t always have tons of work experience. Give them a work scenario that seems like it is impossible to find a way around, and see how they answer it. It shows a lot about an individual’s thought processes and how she would fit in your team.”


BENISH SHAH, Before the Label


11. Look for a Positive Attitude

Maren Hogan“You can teach skills, but you can’t teach likeability. A cultural fit is key to a positive work environment, especially in small businesses. Every employee in my office is a pencil’s throw away; I simply can’t be surrounded by people I hate. It won’t work. Look for a positive attitude, excitement and respect.”


MAREN HOGAN, Red Branch Media


12. Hire Those Who Fit the Culture

Nick Friedman“Experience is helpful, but hiring employees who fit your company’s culture is imperative. Having team members interview and interact with candidates to find out what type people they are is a great way to do this. It’s a lot easier to teach the job to someone who fits the culture than it is to teach the culture (regardless of talent) to someone who just doesn’t get it.”


NICK FRIEDMAN, College Hunks Hauling Junk


13. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Andrew Schrage“By asking brief, open-ended questions, you allow the interviewee to display himself or herself in the best light possible. Or, candidates might make key mistakes in their answers that let you know they are not a good fit for your organization.”


ANDREW SCHRAGE, Money Crashers Personal Finance



Originally published by StartupCollective


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