When you go into an interview for an entry-level position, you might think that you do not have the skills for the job. Not necessarily. Most employers looking to fill entry-level positions know that the candidates they will be interviewing don’t have years and years of related experience, but that does not mean the employer doesn’t have any expectations. What it means is that you need to play-up your personal qualities that would make you a great fit for the position and draw on the experience you DO have (from class, internships, student organizations, part-time jobs, etc.).
Below are five qualities employers look for in entry-level candidates:
1. Do you have passion and enthusiasm for this industry/company/position?
Being able to tell a story about why you picked your chosen profession or your major in college, extra-curricular activities you were involved in that relate to the industry, or discussing current trends and news related to the company you are interviewing with are ways you can show the employer how passionate and enthusiastic you are. Employers want to hire people with these qualities because it usually means you will not up and leave in a year and bringing in a new employee with a lot of energy can positively change the dynamic of an office.
2. Do you have the ability to be trained and learn the skills needed for the position?
Most of this quality comes from your education. Obviously, if you have earned a degree with a decent grade point average, you have the skills to learn new subject matter. Some employers might also test you on basic technical knowledge needed to do well in the position (writing tests, math tests, case studies, etc.), so make sure you have brushed up on the basics before a big interview.
3. Do you communicate professionally/dress professionally/act professionally?
Being able to come off as a mature professional is sometimes difficult for recent graduates. It is extremely important that you act professional in all communication with a potential employer whether it is over the phone, through email, or in person. Start practicing now on eliminating words and phrases like “ya know”, “um”, and “like”. Address emails like you would a letter and always, always proof read. Dressing professionally, especially for the interview, is a must and it can help you with first impressions. Acting professionally entails always shaking hands when meeting people, addressing people properly, and keeping conversations respectful.
4. Do we like you or would you fit in this company?
Most people probably spend more time with their co-workers than they do their own family, so it is important to place new employees that they can stand to be around. Company culture, and maintaining that culture, it what drives most organizations. Are you a team player or do you prefer to work alone? Have you had issues with co-workers or supervisors in the past? What are some of your hobbies or interests? These are all questions that employers ask to get a feel for the type of person you are and if you align with everyone else in the office. This is also a good time to see if the culture of the company is something you value as well.
5. Do you have related experience or transferable experience?
More and more employers are hiring recent graduates with related internship experience and a lot of those employers are hiring directly from their own internship programs, so getting your foot in the door might be easier if you have a couple of internships under your belt. Of course time, money, and several other life issues can get in the way of having an internship, so using transferable skills from part-time jobs or class projects is a great way to show an employer you have what it takes. Customer service, handling cash in a cash register or leading a class project are all examples of transferable skills that might relate to the position you are interviewing for.