What Employers Really Want to See in New Graduates

May 14, 2018

There's one quality companies are looking for from new graduates in the job interview.

You're a recent college graduate, looking for a new job.

Chances are there are many things you don’t have. You likely don’t have a lot of experience. You likely don’t have a great network. You likely don’t have a lot of accomplishments in your field to tout.

So, what can you bring to the table? What are employers really looking for?

In her LinkedIn Learning course Job Hunting for College Grads, Instructor Lida Citroen has a simple answer: passion.

“Most senior executives will tell you that the thing they're looking for in young applicants is passion and authenticity,” Citroen said. “The hiring manager is deciding if they should invest in you. Make it easy for them to see that you want the job.”

Why employers care so much about passion in new graduates

As a new graduate, no matter how many internships you had or how many related courses you took, you are going to need to learn a lot to be effective in your field. Employers understand that – they are willing to make that investment for the right person.

But, who is the right person? Well, pretty simple, really: someone who cares. Someone who is willing to put the time in to get better, because they have a passion for what they do.

How to show passion in a job interview

Hence, it’s critical for new graduates to show their passion in job interviews. Citroen recommends doing that in these ways:

  • Research the company. The most obvious. You can’t be passionate about a company or a role you know nothing about. Ideally, you applied to the company in the first place because there’s something about it you are passionate about – mention that in the interview.
  • Research the hiring manager. Find out as much as you can about the hiring manager before the interview. Along with making the interview smoother, it’ll show you went above-and-beyond – a sign of passion.
  • Watch your body language. Even if you really are passionate about the position but you come in slouched, speak softly and don’t make eye contact, you won’t convey that. Be mindful of your body language – this course can help – so it conveys you are excited about the position.
  • Be personal. If there’s a personal reason you are motivated to join the field or the particular company, share it. It’ll again reinforce that the position isn’t just a job to you, but a calling.
  • Practice, practice, practice. While there might be a few curveballs, you likely will be able to predict many of the questions you’ll be asked in a job interview. Practice your answers to those questions, so when they are asked you can answer them confidently and succinctly.
  • Never skew negative. Don’t be negative – about your school, about traffic, about anything – in the job interview. Instead, focus on the positive as that’ll let your passion really come out.
  • Don’t show up late. If you worked in the industry for 20 years and are considered the best in your field, mayyyyybe you can get away with showing up late to a job interview. But, if you are just out of college and need to show you really want this job, showing up late will ruin any chance of doing that.

The bigger point? Yes, you want to talk about how your schooling and any internships you had helped prepare you for this role. Although, the truth is you still are going to need to learn a lot to truly excel in the role, as it's a new field for you.

So, you want to show in the interview you really care about the position. That'll signal to the hiring manager that you'll put in the effort and ultimately are worth the investment.

Want to learn more? Watch Citroen’s full course, Job Hunting for College Grads.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: