3 Mistakes Startups Make When Hiring Fresh Graduates and How to Avoid Them

Bayt.com, Contributor, Oct 25 2016

With the ever-growing talent database in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and the addition of fresh graduates entering the job market year after year, HR managers and recruiters at most startups are justifiably tempted to tap into this new talent pool and hire a number of fresh graduates for various roles. However, this process continues to be challenging for many companies and businesses across the region. Since most of the recent graduates do not have any real job experience, it is natural for the hiring manager to hesitate and shy away from making this decision.

However, fresh graduates can be a great addition to any company; not only are they excited and motivated by the prospect of a new career opportunity, they are also up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, and can bring in new ideas and a fresh perspective to existing teams. Fresh graduates can shake up the routine and bring in a great load of energy and enthusiasm.

But, without doubt making a sound hiring decision and choosing the right fresh graduate is not a simple task. Hiring fresh graduates is different than hiring an experienced professional, and with little to no experience, hiring managers at newly formed companies may find it very difficult to discern whether or not the candidate would be a fit.

In fact, there are a few mistakes hiring managers tend to make when hiring fresh graduates. It is very important to know what they are, and how to avoid them. Here is a list of the top three mistakes Bayt.com recommends that all startups avoid when hiring a recent graduate:

1. Judging the candidate by the first impression
Do you remember your first job interview after graduation? A job interview is a nerve-wrecking process, and is probably the first time many of these young candidates truly have to market and sell themselves. When hiring fresh graduates, be very aware of this. Many recent graduates don’t perform their best during an interview and have trouble fully conveying their skills and abilities. Their potential may not shine through, and it can prove difficult to truly assess their aptness because their shyness or lack of interview experience is likely to mask away their capabilities.

What we suggest is trying to make the job interview as stress-free as possible for them. Most recruiters make their hiring decision within the first few minutes of an interview. It is important to avoid this, especially with young graduates. Instead, take your time, have both formal and informal conversations with them, walk them around the office, show them the workplace, introduce them to prospective coworkers around their age, and offer them coffee or a quick snack if possible. In general, help them feel more ‘at ease’ and in their element, so they can fully deliver their best. You may even want to consider having more than one interview, in varying styles, as well as assigning them a task or two to complete on their own, so you can better judge their abilities and potential that could be hidden by their nervousness.

2. Neglecting to highlight the job incentives
Surprisingly, some of the most important job attributes that fresh graduates value today don’t include the salary factor. According to the Bayt.com ‘Fresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa’ survey conducted in July 2016, over half of the respondents do not expect a salary higher than USD 750 in their first job. This is certainly a good sign for startups and new businesses that are more wary of hiring costs. Generally speaking, the salary expectations of fresh graduates are lower than the average market rate, and they value other benefits, such as alternative working arrangements, training and growth opportunities, employee wellness programs, flexible working hours, and a work culture that is well suited to them. If your company offers these incentives, then make sure to highlight them as early as the job description and during the job interview or screening process to show the graduate that your company is a great place for them to start their career.

Additionally being more detailed and transparent about your company culture, work environment, and job incentives, will ensure that you attract the most relevant applicants. This will save you time and money and help you mitigate making imperfect hiring decisions.

3. Undervaluing their abilities and potential
Another aspect to keep in mind when dealing with recent graduates pertains to issues of retention and commitment. These concerns are often a cited as reasons to refrain from hiring younger candidates. However, here is how to avoid issues of retention; once you’ve hired a candidate, you should show them that you are truly invested in them. There is no reason to undervalue their abilities and to not encourage and push them to work at their full potential. These young minds will shape the future of your company. Therefore, it is important not to belittle them or their experiences. Instead, use them to your advantage, encourage their participation in brainstorming sessions, value their input, and take their ideas into serious consideration. Fresh graduates are very eager to learn and are determined to prove themselves competent in their new careers. You have the ability to train and mold them, transforming them into your future top-achievers and the true fit within your company.

Overall, fresh graduates can be a great asset and can bring a fresh perspective to your startup team. Some startups who are in need of more experienced employees to kick-start their new business avoid hiring from the recent graduate pool. In this case, we recommend internships as an alternative starting point. Interns can also be trained and monitored. However, keep in mind that most interns aspire for a full-time position. Make sure that they are treated as regular team members, recognized, and motivated in order for them to perform their best and remain loyal.

See related article:

Your Secret to Hiring a Great Startup Team



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