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Considering Hiring a New College Grad for Your Startup or Small Business? Use These 5 Tests to Find Superstar Employees. New college grads could be great or terrible hires. Here's how to weed out the duds.

By Dave Lavinsky

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


New college grads could be great or terrible hires. On the negative side, they lack experience in the workforce. On the positive side, they often have lots of energy and fresh ideas. And they may not have negative workplace habits and can be molded to your company's culture.

Below are five tests to use when considering recent college graduates.

Test for honesty

It's easy for new college graduates to embellish or outright lie on their resumes since rarely will employers check all the facts. To determine accuracy and the applicant's honesty, use the "fear of fact checking" approach. For example, if the applicant states she was the president of a club of which you've never heard, you could ask, "Who was your faculty advisor, and when I call them, what do you think they'll say were your greatest strengths?"

The applicant's reply to this question will be telling.

Test for resilience

All employees will make mistakes and/or fail at times. The key is to find employees who are resilient and will bounce back after failure. Ask applicants about a recent failure they've had. Then ask them how they reacted and/or overcame that failure. .

Test for adaptability vs. stubbornness

A great new hire will be able to offer new ideas at times, while accepting how your company does things at others. The last thing you want is someone who's stubborn and will only perform tasks his way. Tell prospective hires how you currently complete a certain project. Ask them how they might do it differently, and listen closely to their response.

Test for references

Recent college graduates should have former bosses and/or professors who can vouch for them. If they haven't made a good impression with any such individual, that's a red flag.

Test for performance

This is the most important test you can give prospective hires. Give them a test that's as close to the work they will perform if you hire them. For example, if part of the applicant's job will be conducting market research, give her a one- to two-hour market research assignment. Treat the prospects' output as their best possible work, as it's rare they'll give you shoddy work now and then miraculously perform better once employed. Only hire applicants whose work is excellent.

This year, and every year, thousands of students graduate college and become stars that rise through the organizations they join and make them better. Use these five tests to find your star.

Dave Lavinsky

Author and Co-founder of Growthink and Guiding Metrics

Dave Lavinsky is the co-founder of Growthink, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs identify and pursue new opportunities, develop business plans, raise capital and build growth strategies. He is also the founder of Guiding Metrics, a company that tracks KPIs to help businesses grow faster and more profitably, and the author of Start at The End (Wiley, 2012).

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