resume of candidate with no work experience

Learn how to evaluate candidates with no work experience and gain insight into their skills and potential!

We often blog on the reasons why employers should consider a recent college grad for certain jobs where the employee’s soft skills (i.e. talent) are just as important to on the job performance as previous work experience. My point was that too many times employers make the mistake of overlooking employees who have much to offer but don’t quite meet the “years of experience” screening criteria. That said, you should not short cut the screening that needs to be done to assess a candidate’s talents and personal qualities important to job success. Even the brightest new college grade will not perform well, if placed in a job that doesn’t fit their talents or personal profile. Evaluating candidates with no work experience is heavily relies on asking the right questions and getting the right insights.

While behavioral interviews are typically used to assess the relevance of previous work experience they can also be used to for candidates with only minimal levels of work experience. Instead of asking questions about how the employee performed in previous jobs  you ask questions about how they performed in performed in environments similar to a work setting – i.e. their experiences at school, volunteer work, group activities or in any part-time jobs they might have held while getting ready to enter the job market.

The specific questions you will want to ask will depend on the skills, talents or competencies essential to the job you are trying to fill. While technical competencies can always be evaluated outside the interview setting, the interview is where the candidate’s real talents need to be uncovered. If the job requires someone who knows how to solve problems, interact with customers, or set priorities, during the interview is where you find out how they’ve approached those kinds of activities in other areas of their life.

To identify the qualities most important to job success ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What personal qualities have helped other employees be successful in the same role?
  2. What traits should I steer clear of because they were issues with previous employees?
  3. What kind of customers will they be working with?
  4. Will they need to be patient or quick on their feet?
  5. How will they learn their job?
  6. How willing do they need to be to make mistakes?
  7. What kind of interactions will they have with others?
  8. When and how will they manage conflicting priorities?
  9. What challenges will they face?
  10. How resilient do they need to be


Once you know the key qualities important to success, you can craft behavioral questions that will tap into how the candidate with no work experience has used those talents in other areas.

Specifically to evaluate candidates who are new to the market after being a student, your questions can dig into the candidate’s motivational profile…

To evaluate candidates who haven’t had a college experience, you can ask questions about their work history…

As always, it is a good idea to end your behavioral interview by asking:

Listen carefully to the candidate’s responses to each question.  Ask the same questions of every “non-experienced” candidate so you have a quick and easy way to compare one candidate to another. With these smart interviewing questions, you’ll be able to confidently evaluate candidates with no work experience and know that you are making smart hiring decisions.

Additionally, consider having your best candidates come in to meet with your team for a day and experience a “day in the life”.  You’ll be able to tell which candidates are up for the job – really.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, e mail us at or visit our website at www.

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