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Below you will find some examples of entry-level questions that are useful to use when you’re interviewing junior candidates or recent graduates.

How to interview entry-level candidates

This interview type has its own challenges because junior candidates lack professional experience and therefore it can get difficult to measure and assess their work skills. However, having a predetermined technique of targeted entry-level questions can help you decide which candidate is the best fit for the position.

During entry-candidate interviews, these are the skills that you could evaluate;

  • Communication skills: how they express themselves and talk about their goals.
  • Time-management skills: how they handle deadlines with other school/work commitments (e.g. during college or internships).
  • Problem-solving skills: how they approach and analyze challenges that are job-related (application questions such as hypothetical scenarios or simulation activities).

Below you could find some sample questions to ask entry-level candidates during interviews:

Entry-level interview questions:

  • What were the reasons that pushed you to pursue your field/major?
  • Do you want to continue your studies in the future? If yes, what is the field that you want to specialize or get into?
  • How did your studies help prepare you for any work challenges or obstacles?
  • What motivated you to apply for this position? Was there anything specific that attracted you in the job description or the mission of the company?
  • How would you respond to a client if you were on the phone with them and a question came up that you had no answers for?
  • Tell us about a time (e.g. from college or an internship) when you were assigned to be part of a team to deliver a specific project or goal.
  • How were you capable of managing your time in a fast-paced environment where you had multiple projects and assignments with close tight deadlines?
  • What are some of the experiences and skills that you would like to acquire during your first year of work in our company?
  • What were some of the projects that you worked on, in previous internship positions and please elaborate on your role, the challenges you faced and the lessons that you learned.
  • How would you react if your manager gave you a task which you had no idea how to approach and complete?
  • A hypothetical scenario: pretend that I am a prospective client and you have to sell me X product. What are the types of questions you would ask to assess my needs and how would you persuade me to purchase the X product?
  • Tell us about a time when you received criticism as a feedback from your professors or work supervisor. What was your response?

How to evaluate entry-level candidates in interviews:

  • Entry level candidates such as recent graduates are not very familiar with professional interview settings and may need to get familiar first. Therefore, it is always a good idea to start with ice-breakers and inform them of the process of the interview to establish a comfortable environment.
  • Concentrate on questions that ask about situational aspects rather than behavioural ones. Utilize hypothetical scenarios to assess how candidates respond to specific situations and work problems, even if they lack sufficient professional experiences.
  • Volunteer work, extracurricular activities and internships are extremely valuable in showcasing the skills that candidates developed in team environments and how they can utilize these skills in the work position they applied for,
  • Do not have the misconception that entry-level candidates are inexperienced. On the contrary, they can be professionals who want to change their career. If this was the case, ask them what their motivation is in the context of pursuing a career in a different field or industry from their own?
  • You can incorporate an assignment for your hiring process in order to better measure the different skills of a candidate. This is specifically useful for creative roles and when a complete work portfolio is not developed yet by candidates. Additionally, you could also use these points from this assignment and use them as good talking points for your interviews.

Related: How to attract and hire entry-level employees.

Red flags

  • Their career goals are different from what the company offers. Junior and entry-level candidates can have difficulty expressing the different job positions that they are interested in. If you notice that their long-term career goals do not match what the position offers, then it might get difficult to retain them in the future.
  • They are full of themselves and arrogant. Junior positions are important to develop professionally via training and supervision from more experienced coworkers. However, this won’t be possible if the junior position candidate has the “ know-it-all” attitude and is not open for receiving any advice or feedback from the more experienced.
  • They lack professionalism. Junior candidates may not come fully prepared for their interviews and you should not view that as extreme unprofessionalism but signs such as arriving late for interviews or not submitting assignments on-time are clear red flags.
  • They are unmotivated. During entry-level interviews, junior candidates often showcase their excitement, interest and a “can do” attitude for simple and complicated tasks. Therefore, candidates who are disengaged as in they do not ask follow-up questions to clarify anything, might not be interested in your position.

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