Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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8 Tips for Hiring a Recent Graduate

Isabel Morris

Hiring can sometimes seem like a mammoth task, especially for start-ups and SMEs that lack official HR departments.

Hiring someone is a big financial investment, and chances are you’ll be spending nearly every working hour with them after you take them on. Not only that, but hiring for the first (or second, or third) time can be tricky. What should you be looking for in candidates’ resumes? What questions should you ask at interview? How do you seal the deal and make the offer itself?

With this in mind, we’ve jotted down our top tips for successfully hiring a graduate.

Write a winning job advert

This is your chance to ‘sell’ the role to potential applicants. Remember that a job advert isn’t a job description or a job spec – it’s outward facing, and it should aim to attract and excite the kinds of candidates you’re looking for.

Writing a job advert that will attract your ideal hire means coming up with the perfect job title and introduction to your business, considering an appropriate salary bracket, and advertising your office’s perks.

Look beyond the CV

When sifting through resumes, be receptive to a candidate’s adaptable skill sets, potential, and drive – in addition to their education and experience. It’s important not to focus on degree area too much when hiring, particularly for an entry-level role.

Don’t dawdle

The best candidates – especially recent graduates – don’t hang around! Chances are candidates will be sending out multiple applications, so it’s important to act fast so that your dream candidate isn’t snapped up by another company.

Contact the candidates you’re interested in as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours of their applications. Equally, inform candidates you’re not interested in that you won’t be progressing with them as soon as possible – a short, polite email will do the trick.

Be organised at interviews

It’s easy to lose track of applications once they start rolling in, and scheduling interviews can get chaotic. So, it’s important to be organised from the get go.

  • Get in touch with candidates you’d like to interview as soon as possible.
  • Pre-prepare what you’d like to say in each interview.
  • Make detailed notes about your conversations.
  • Follow-up with candidates in a timely manner afterwards.

We’ve found that a simple spreadsheet works wonders for managing applications from candidates, interview dates, offers made, and other notes.

Consider how you’ll come across to the candidate at interview. Remember that they’re likely to be interviewing at a number of companies, so you need to impress them as much as they need to impress you!

Make offers over the phone

Once you and your team have agreed on the candidate you’d like to offer the role to, you’ll need to act quickly to seal the deal before your ideal candidate accepts an offer elsewhere.

Always get candidates’ verbal acceptance over the phone before sending them a follow-up email detailing the offer. Not only is calling your candidate up to speak with them directly more personable, it’s also more polite.

Emails are easily lost, so it’s better to speak with your candidate (or leave them a voicemail, at least!) instead of chasing them about it.

Give a clear timeframe

Tell your candidates when you want to hear back from them. Putting a clear deadline on accepting your offer prevents candidates from overthinking and increases your chances of hiring them before other employers do.

Be open to negotiating

Within limits, of course. If a candidate wants to discuss their salary or working hours with you, be receptive to their requests and try to accommodate them. Remember that they might be comparing your offer with others that they’ve received.

Any negotiations should happen either during the phone call when you extend the offer or shortly thereafter. Once you’ve both agreed to the terms, send the candidate a contract that confirms these terms and requests a signature of acceptance within a set timeframe.

Don’t write up a contract before your candidate has accepted your offer – a delay at this point is a sure sign that your candidate is unsure about your offer or is waiting on others.

Don’t make offers on a Friday

Fridays are renowned for being the worst day to offer your role to a candidate! The weekend is just too long – it gives your candidate too much time to overthink your offer.

So, save yourself the unnecessary stress of dealing with awkward counter-offers on Monday morning, and just don’t do it.

From experience, we’d recommend holding out until Monday or Tuesday. Research also shows that the most common day of the week to both apply for and be offered a job is Tuesday.