It is said that most employers make a decision about prospective job applicants within the first 5 minutes of the interview. Thus, first impressions are (nearly) everything when applying for a job.

But, as an employer, should you really make a decision so quickly when interviewing candidates who have just graduated from college? Many of these applicants have almost no real work experience, and this is probably the first time that some of them are being interviewed. How can you assess their potential and evaluate the real talent of a candidate who might appear to be quite nervous?

Remember, if you are too quick to dismiss a nervous recent grad, you might lose out on a valuable addition to your organization. So, the next time you are interviewing a recent college graduate, here is what you should keep in mind:

Give Them Directions

Most of your candidates have never been interviewed before, so you may want to give them a heads up on how to respond to your questions.
Let them know about the type of questions you will be asking, so that they can prepare suitable responses. Remember, this is not a test; it’s an interview and for most recent grads, this is their first time. Give them a chance to prove that they’re worthy.

Ask Behavioral-Based Questions

Since most of these job applicants have little to no work experience, you may want to ask behavioral-based questions to assess their capabilities.

For starters, you can ask them how they go about planning their day, now that they are out of college. This can give you some insight into the time management skills of a candidate, and perhaps give a glimpse of their future productivity as an employee.

Assess Their Eagerness to Learn

Nearly all of your candidates who are recent college graduates have never worked in a corporate environment. You need to find out how eager these applicants are to pick up the necessary skills.

You can start by asking them about what they hope to take away from this job, and how it will help them in their personal and professional lives.

Another way to figure out an applicant’s eagerness to learn would be to throw in some technical business jargon during the interview and see how they respond. If your candidate remains silent or ignores an unfamiliar term, it could reflect a lack of interest in the interview and the position to which they are applying.

On the other hand, if the candidate asks you to explain a particular term that they did not understand, it shows their curiosity and willingness to learn.

Check for Professionalism

Remember, most entry-level candidates are extremely nervous about the job interview, and this nervousness may affect their demeanor. So, if a candidate avoids making eye contact or offers a flimsy handshake, it is alright to look past it.

However, you should look out for signs that indicate a lack of professionalism. For example, arriving to the interview late or showing up with a messy, crumpled outfit is unacceptable. Also, a candidate who checks their phone during the interview is not worth your time, since it shows they are not one hundred percent focused.

When interviewing recent graduates for jobs, it is best to create a recruitment channel devoted solely to their applications. This way, you can train your interviewers and teach them how to deal specifically with new entry-level job applicants.

Keep these tips in mind while interviewing recent graduates, and you will be sure to hire the right candidates who will bring value to your organization.