No Real Work Experience

From the Ask Tom mailbag

I am interviewing a lot of college hires that possess limited if any relevant work experience. While I am very comfortable interviewing candidates with experience, I find it very difficult to translate the Hiring Talent approach to those without any real experience in the field I am interviewing for. In some cases there is barely a internship to ask questions about.

They have work experience, they just didn’t get paid for it. Work is comprised of these two things –

  • Making decisions
  • Solving problems

Here is the sequence –
Look at the typical task assignments in the open role.

  1. Identify the Level of Work.
  2. Identify the critical role requirements, keying in on decision making and problem solving.
  3. Create questions based on the critical role requirements.

“Tell me about a time when” – this could be a student project, coursework, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, a hobby, a contest.
Let’s say the critical role requirement is to create and maintain work schedules for seven people on a project team where the duration of the project is thirty days.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to maintain some sort of written schedule on a project?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of project?
  • How long did the project last?
  • What did you have to schedule (people, project elements)?
  • How many elements (people, materials) did you have to schedule?
  • What information did you have to gather before you entered elements into the schedule?
  • After you created the initial schedule, did it ever change? How often?
  • Before you changed the schedule, what information did you have to gather?
  • Were your schedule changes ever challenged? How did you resolve the situation?

I am listening for decisions they made and problems they solved. And I don’t care if it was a pageant for the school choir or volunteer work at a hospital.

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