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4 Ways to Uncover and Select High Calibre Entry-Level Candidates

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When on the hunt for exceptional entry-level candidates, most managers are searching for three things: skills, knowledge, and talent.

By their very nature, entry level candidates can only demonstrate so much in the skills and knowledge stakes, especially when compared to more experienced candidates; this alone can make the interview and selection process a daunting prospect.

As for identifying talent – forget about it! It can be difficult to identify during an interview, and it’s hard enough trying to find the skills you need at the price you want to pay.

That’s why it’s important to develop an entry level candidate selection process that is aiming for the right outcomes. You can expect the best candidates to be adaptable, possibly tech savvy and, most of all, determined to develop and grow.

In the long run the benefits can be huge – they cost you less in remuneration and, contrary to popular belief, they can grow to become the most loyal, hardworking and valuable of all employees.

The skills you need, the knowledge you desire and the talent you crave may not be as far away as you think. Following are 4 proven strategies to use in your selection process that can help get you closer:

1. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover (or Resume)

When you decided to hire an entry-level candidate, you made a choice to look beyond the resume and see the candidate. And here’s why you should follow through with that.

We constantly place candidates with seemingly no experience who absolutely nail the role when given the chance, precisely because you’ve taken a chance on them, and they’ve got a point to prove.

Most notably, we placed a candidate with only retail sales experience (a bicycle shop) into a high performance Media Sales role with a major online publishing house. Two years, 3 promotions and repeated occurrences with other candidates later, this company is convinced.

Learn to read between the lines and see beyond experience – see if they “get” what you’re looking for in what they write (in their cover letters and resumes). You simply can’t tell attitude, talent or potential from a resume so, when in doubt, pick up the phone. No time to do this? Partner with someone who does have the time – it’ll be worth your while.

2. Use Personality Profiling Tools to help identify ‘Natural’ Talent

Psychometric assessment has been estimated as a $500m industry – and that was back in 2009. In the US, 80% of Fortune 500 companies use personality assessment in their selection process, and 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK.

Why? Because they are designed to measure a wide range of attributes like interpersonal relationship preferences, sales and leadership ability, thinking style, energy, emotions and preference for tasks – traits that even the most skilled interviewer may miss.

Personality assessments can be a very useful tool for providing an objective basis for discussion and a platform for deeper questioning and understanding – especially if the assessment contradicts your earlier predictions or expectations.

For instance, if a candidate has applied for a sales position, yet hasn’t had much sales experience to date, a personality assessment can help to identify both natural talent and potential misalignment to the role. In the Bike Shop Sales example above, identifying natural talent was a key factor and indicator of success.

In Australia, assessing personality in the selection process is becoming a more popular practice and in turn the results of assessments are increasingly influencing final candidate selection.

3. Be Responsive to the Market you’re in

Of course you want to get the best bang for your buck and think that hiring an entry level candidate will help you do this.

The truth is, some industries are more competitive than others, and this same rule applies for entry-level candidates.

Some companies hire green salespeople at the price you would normally pay for a mid-level candidate because they have identified their potential and back their own training and development abilities.

We constantly see companies lose good people because they’re not paying what the market is paying. To an entry level candidate, working for a new company is just as risky and unproven as it is for you to hire them, given that they don’t know your training and mentoring, and how likely it is that they’ll be supported to succeed.

It is not unreasonable that they look for a good base salary to verify their decision; if they’re worth it, they’re worth the short term budget increase.

You could look for months to find another high calibre candidate and, if the need to find someone is urgent for your business, that waiting will cost you more.

If you’re unsure what to pay, visit online job boards and search for similar roles, or ask a trusted recruiter.

4. If you Snooze you Lose

Research shows that candidates who are offered a role quickly are more likely to accept it – best results are when offer is made within 12 hours.

We see many companies “Um” and “Ah” through their interview process, which only has the effect of allowing exceptional candidates to interview with other companies and get more offers on the table. If you’re keen, make your intentions known quickly, even if it is to communicate that you are meeting with others to discuss the way forward. Keeping candidates in the dark will force them to see light elsewhere.


Keeping these 4 key things in mind in your selection process will get you better results when searching for entry level candidates in your organisation, because you will better target the right characteristics (natural talent, attitude, opportunity for growth and development etc.) and then take the necessary measures to reach agreement with the right candidates.

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