What To Look For When Hiring Entry to Mid-Level Employees

It can be difficult to hire for entry-level and mid-level positions because candidates may not have a long list of former employers or jobs that can truly represent their ability to perform the tasks a new employer is looking for. In some cases a leap of faith is needed when hiring at these levels. Even so, this leap doesn’t have to be done totally blind. Employers can look for a pattern of ability and success in other areas and apply this knowledge to the current job opening.

So, what should companies be looking for when hiring new entry- to mid-level employees?

Are They A Good Culture Fit?

Culture is the environment created for (and by) employees in a workplace. A new employee should complement the culture of the organization, as employees who don’t fit into the work environment properly tend to leave to find an environment that is more in line with their beliefs. The average cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of that employee’s first-year potential earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics. Potential hires should have personalities that will mesh well with internal stakeholders (their co-workers) as well as external ones (clients or vendors). Potential employees who don’t display the values and characteristics within the current culture may not be the right choice for the organization. Employers can assess a job candidate for culture fit during the interview process by learning how they have handled different work situations previously.

Do They Have Previous Achievements?

Entry-level candidates may not have a long list of professional accomplishments, so it’s important to think outside of the box. Look at what these candidates have achieved in school, internships, extracurricular activities, or hobbies. Companies can identify candidates that have taken projects or assignments in these arenas from start to finish successfully and with positive results. About 60% of college graduates can’t find work in their chosen field, according to an article from Forbes. With so many potential candidates having unrelated experience it is important to understand how previous achievements line up with the new responsibilities.

How Do They Handle Behavioral Questions?

Determine the must-have abilities, qualities, personality traits, and skills that are necessary for the position and create a series of questions designed to detect whether or not the candidate has them. During the interview process ask candidates these questions and ask them to provide examples of a time in the past when they used these skills. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions as they will help you dig deeper into a candidate’s past experiences and abilities. Go beneath the surface of the candidate’s answers to learn how he or she thinks and will likely react in work situations.

Can They Do The Work?

Even the most detailed interview process can’t replace actually seeing the applicant do the work. Companies can ask entry- and mid-level job candidates to complete a work-related project or exercise that mimics some of the tasks they’ll be performing on the job. These can be especially helpful when video interviews have been the main mode of contact with candidates. The results of these exercises can give hiring organizations insight into how candidates will work on the job and can help to differentiate between two candidates to determine who would be stronger.

The level that a candidate is at will not matter as much as if they have the skills the company is looking for and their overall ability to do the job. Some of the best qualities for a candidate at any level to possess are professionalism and an eagerness to learn. While some job-related tasks can be taught, others (particularly personality traits) cannot. Companies would be wise to hire candidates who will be good for the future needs of the company, not just what is needed today.

About the Author: Megan Ritter is a graduate student at USC and has worked for various financial institutions and marketing firms. Follow her @megmarieritter.

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