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How to hire entry-level employees the right way


As a hiring manager, your role is to find and recruit the best employees for your company.

This means they need to have the right skills, knowledge, and industry expertise, as well as add to your organization’s culture, in order to be a good fit amongst your team. 

Indeed, finding the right employees is a tough job as it takes time and resources to find someone and retain them. 

This is where entry-level employee hiring comes into play: Employees just starting out can and should be a wonderful addition to your team. Since they are fresh out of school, college, or university, with no work experience, you can gain plenty of benefits by hiring them and shaping their development. 

“What benefits if they have no experience?” you might ask.

Essentially, you get a blank slate when you hire entry-level employees, ‌who you can train however you think best to serve the needs of your company. This includes providing them with specific training required for certain jobs, grooming them for higher positions, and allowing them to grow within your company, thus ensuring low turnover.  

Usually, the salaries of entry-level employees will be lower than those of seasoned workers, and they might be eager to do more mundane tasks that aren’t a good fit for the skills of your senior staff. This will lower your hiring costs – and overall, when you think about it, you have a potentially endless supply of talent whenever you need to hire more staff, since there will be fresh graduates every year. 

This is why, as a hiring manager, you should dedicate some time to looking for and hiring entry-level employees. 

To aid you in the task of recruiting fresh talent, this article will go over what skills you should be looking for when recruiting entry-level employees.

It will then provide a detailed breakdown of the benefits you could expect to gain, give you a step-by-step guide to the practical steps of hiring entry-level employees, and explain how to onboard and retain them in the long run.

Entry-level employee recruitment: Hire for potential, motivation, and soft skills

When hiring entry-level employees, you cannot expect them to have any in-depth expertise pertinent to your company’s needs, even if they graduated from a college with a degree in your industry.

They might have some theoretical knowledge about how things should be done, but the core skills they need will be gained via practical learning once hired. 

Therefore, when looking at resumes from entry-level employees, you should focus on their soft skills, like communication, leadership, motivation, willingness to learn, problem-solving, work ethic, and teamwork. 

Experience and hard skills, such as programming or data analytics, can be gained on the job.

Bear in mind that entry-level employees will most likely be worried about their lack of experience when applying for a job. This is why it is essential to show them that you are looking for skills that cannot be learned only through work. 

Although soft skills can be acquired and honed over time, they are more of a mindset. If your entry-level employees have a good mindset, the rest can be learned once they get hired and receive training. 

Thus, what you’re really looking for is whether they have the potential to expand on their soft skills. Different industries will have specific needs, but some traits and attributes remain key in every role. These include the following:

key skills, traits and attributes for entry-level employees

1. Communication

This skill is a must in all fields. An entry-level employee has to be able to communicate with their team members and clients accurately and concisely, getting their point across as clearly as possible.

And while good communication comes with practice, you will be able to see whether they have what it takes to expand on their communication skills.

One way to do this is by using TestGorilla’s Communication test, which assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. 

2. Leadership

Leadership isn’t a skill  many people possess, but it is a good trait to have. Usually, a person is a born leader (or so they say), and here you want to look for their willingness to take charge of tasks and projects, think outside the box, introduce innovations, and advance their own development.

Entry-level employees with leadership skills can become great assets for your company if their abilities are honed and developed.

You can use TestGorilla’s Leadership and People Management test here to ascertain whether your entry-level employee has what it takes to become a future leader in your organization. 

3. Motivation

Having motivated employees come to work day in and day out is the dream scenario for every hiring manager. However, that is not always the case, as most people will know.

Usually, you have to motivate employees with extra perks and freedoms on top of their standard remuneration. Motivation is again something innate to a person, as they either come motivated and eager to do their job or sulk and avoid their duties until the work day is over.

Using a Motivation test can measure how aligned an entry-level employee’s preferences are to what you have to offer in terms of benefits and key elements of the workplace. Good results on this test correlate with better performance on the job.  

4. Willingness to learn

A great asset for any entry-level employee is a willingness to learn.

If they are open to receiving instructions and proactively asking for more tasks and learning materials, that is a good indicator of a potentially productive team member. Willingness to learn goes hand in hand with willingness to do what is asked of them.

It is true that most entry-level employees will initially need to do relatively menial tasks that senior team members refuse to do. But having a willing mindset is something you want to look for in a candidate. 

5. Problem solving

Problem solving is an invaluable skill to have, regardless if a candidate is at entry-level or an experienced member of staff. Having the ability to identify and analyze an issue, and make the right decision based on the gathered information, is a must.

Problems constantly arise; not only at work, but in our personal lives as well. An entry-level employee with the ability to solve problems is an asset for the future.

You can test problem-solving skills with TestGorilla and see if your entry-level candidates have the potential to find solutions to complex situations. 

6. Work ethic

Work ethic is something rarely learned at work. It is a compilation of a candidate’s behavior, values, and beliefs, and there needs to be an alignment between applicants’ work ethic and your organization’s culture.

Entry-level employees will need to make decisions like everyone else and their choices will reflect not only on themselves but the company as well. Therefore, it is important to recognize and avoid areas of conflict in the workplace.

You can measure whether or not an entry-level employee has work and business ethics from the get-go by using TestGorilla’s Business Ethics and Compliance test.

7. Teamwork

Teamwork is another staple of the soft skills set every employee should possess. Employees work with other employees so their ability to collaborate, comply, and voice ideas is essential.

As a hiring manager, your task is to ascertain whether someone can work in a team by putting them in a real-life scenario. This is something you will have to test on your own once you hire them, but a previous track record of playing team sports or taking other extracurricular activities like playing in a band are positive indicators for entry-level candidates. 

Again, although you cannot expect entry-level employees to have highly developed soft skills, you can still see their potential by running the above-mentioned tests. Look for potential here and don’t delve too deeply into the results of the tests.

The benefits of entry-level employee recruitment

Most companies are unwilling to recruit entry-level employees as they want someone with several years of experience in their industry. However, as mentioned, hiring entry-level employees has an array of benefits for your business that you might be missing out on if you prefer employees with more experience. 

Entry-level employee recruitment enables you to: 

benefits of entry-level employee recruitment

1. Get fresh ideas

Entry-level employees ask more questions than experienced workers, which can be beneficial to your business.

You might hear a question about why something is done a particular way that makes you rethink how you usually do things. Such a situation may lead to a better, more productive way to deal with day-to-day tasks.

Employees who have been working a job for a long time might not come up with fresh ideas, sticking to their habits and routine. Recruiting entry-level employees can break that cycle, enabling you to see your business with a pair of fresh eyes. 

2. Hire talented employees who don’t have the experience yet

When reviewing CVs and then doing interviews, you might come across an entry-level employee as talented as senior members of your staff – perhaps even more so – but don’t have the experience. This is a great way to hire a person who can do the same job as a seasoned worker while paying them less because of their position, thus keeping staffing costs low. 

3. Train new hires easily

Entry-level employees are eager to learn and take in new information like sponges. You can train them in a way that’s particularly valuable for your organization and industry.

Seasoned workers are usually harder to train or retrain since they “already know what they are doing.” Thus, entry-level employees can prove useful assets, getting things done your way once trained properly. 

4. Reduce costs

As mentioned above, staffing costs for entry-level employees are usually lower than for experienced workers. That comes into play in your recruiting process, since you can offer lower remuneration that will satisfy someone who doesn’t have much experience.

After that, you can incrementally increase their salaries as they gain more skills, but the costs will still be less than having someone who already worked in the industry for the past 5-10 years. 

5. Upskill existing employees

Existing employees can train entry-level employees, becoming their mentor, exchanging ideas, and generating innovation. Again, new employees will ask a lot of questions. The mentor can gain insights from those questions, rethink how they work, and become more productive overall. 

How to hire entry-level employees: a step-by-step guide

As we have seen, entry-level employees offer great benefits that your company can make use of.

The question now stands: how exactly do you hire entry-level employees?

The following will give you a step-by-step guide on how to hire an entry-level employee. 

how to hire entry-level employees: a step-by-step guide

Step 1: Define the entry-level role

To begin with, as the hiring manager, you must decide which roles are suitable for employees with no prior experience. These may include positions that have simple tasks and don’t require advanced hard skills, like filing documents and filling-in Excel sheets.

Depending on your industry, you want to include tasks that need to be done but that current members of your team are unwilling or simply don’t have the time to do. 

Once you define the entry-level role, you need to write a detailed job description. You should list all the tasks your entry-level employee will be performing. Most people scan a job description before applying for it, so you wouldn’t want to write an overly laborious text that no one will read. 

Step 2: Write a thoughtful, engaging job ad

Once you define your entry-level role and write a good job description, you can use it to write your job ad. 

The job ad should inform readers what kind of person you’re looking for. Here you want to focus on soft skills rather than experience and you should make it clear that the role is for entry-level applicants.

You want to include:

  • A good job title that says it is an entry-level position

  • The responsibilities of the job

  • The employees’ duties

  • Required skills: focus on soft skills as discussed above

  • Work days and hours

  • Compensation: remuneration and benefits, like health insurance, additional paid time off, retirement benefits, and more

Additionally, you should outline your hiring process, explain what the next steps are, and include a call to action.

Step 3: Create a skills assessment adapted to the entry-level role

After you receive applications for your entry-level open position, you need to assess the candidates. 

When assessing entry-level employees, you need to concentrate on potential, motivation, cultural alignment, etc. and not on experience and hard skills. These will be acquired on the job, but you can’t train someone’s attitude or outlook on life, especially if it’s a gloomy one. 

Depending on the job role, you want to define the must-have skills you want to prioritize. Even though you’re not testing specific skills, you can still use various tests to see if a candidate is the right fit. 

For example, you can use TestGorilla’s Motivation and Culture Add tests to assess a candidates’ alignment with the role. We also offer various personality and culture, situational judgment, and cognitive skills tests that you can choose from depending on your industry and situation.

Of course, with entry-level candidates, you don’t want to be too strict about interpreting the results you receive. 

Step 4: Post your job ad on your website, job boards, and social media 

Once you’re ready, post your job.

You can do this on your website, job boards, and on social media. Nowadays, entry-level employees will most likely also look for jobs on Facebook, LinkedIn, and maybe even Instagram, so you want to make sure to pay special attention to these platforms. 

Make it easy to apply – LinkedIn allows you to use a one-click application process. You should state that you will be using skills tests from the get go so no one is surprised when the pre-employment assessments begin.  

Step 5: Visit job fairs and career events 

An alternative way to source entry-level candidates is to visit job fairs and career events. 

Most colleges and universities host career fairs every year, usually at the beginning and end of each academic year. These can be gold mines for finding potential entry-level applicants who will soon be fresh out of college and looking for a job. 

You can either go there in person and network casually or speak to the organizers and get a stand, where you can hand out your organization’s leaflets advertising that you are hiring and exchange contact details with students. 

Step 6: Invite candidates to take a skills assessment

Once people apply for your job opening and you have the numbers you want, it is time to begin the skills assessment. 

Invite candidates to take the tests by sending them the TestGorilla assessment you created, comprising the skills tests you selected. Make sure everyone gets the same time limit (usually around 10 minutes to complete each test) and rules for completion.

This way you will avoid bias, and since you will mostly be evaluating soft skills, everyone will have an equal chance to show off how they approach different problems.  

Step 7: Analyze candidates’ results

When the results are in, you want to analyze how each candidate performed

You will know who your top candidates are for the entry-level job based on the average scores shown on the main page of the candidate’s assessment system. The TestGorilla analysis tools will show you more detailed information if you want to delve deeper into the results.

You will have a general overview of how candidates did, but you can also look at individual scores. With entry-level applicants, you really want to see how individual candidates answered specific questions, especially if you created any custom ones.

Their answers can tell you a lot about how they might perform on the job, irrespective of the numerical results they get from the tests. 

You can rate answers and write notes for each candidate, making your choice easier when you have to decide who did best. 

Step 8: Invite your best applicants to an interview 

Once you have assessed everyone and you have analyzed the results, you can shortlist the entry-level candidates who most impressed you in the assessment. Now, you can invite them to an interview.

Remember to let unsuccessful candidates know how they did and why they weren’t chosen for the next stage of the interview process. Many companies skip this step, leaving candidates disheartened about the process and disillusioned with your brand as a whole. 

Providing feedback to all candidates, successful and unsuccessful, is an ideal opportunity to improve your employer brand and help you stand out: 78% of candidates think that the way a company treats them during recruitment accurately reflects the way it treats its workforce.

The next time you have an opening, entry-level applicants will be willing to apply again if they received an explanation from you why they were unsuccessful previously.

If you don’t provide feedback, you run the risk of losing out on a potential talent pool that is already willing to work for you. They will have mixed feelings about applying for a company that doesn’t communicate well with its candidates – they may worry that such poor communication extends to the employees, too. 

Step 9: Conduct structured interviews 

Conducting structured interviews is a lengthy process that you need to begin preparing for before the candidate comes in for the interview. 

First, you want to use your job description to write questions specific to the job role you’re offering. Here, you can sift through candidates more efficiently, especially if there are many, by doing phone or video interviews. These methods will enable you to filter out those who managed to get through the skills assessment, but are still unqualified in the long run.

Once that is done, you can move to the actual face-to-face interviews.

It’s best to do the interviews all in one day, saving resources and your own time – you don’t want to be doing interviews every other day, considering everything else you have on your plate as a hiring manager. 

Before candidates come in for the interview, you should remove any stress factors that might jeopardize their behavior. After all, everyone knows how stressful job interviews can be, especially for entry-level employees. Tell them over email or phone your company dress code, what to expect from the interview, and which entry to use to get into the building.

Of course, before the actual interview, double check your candidate and go through their CV and test results one more time to refresh your memory of who is coming into your office for an interview.

The first thing to do during the interview is introduce yourself and any colleagues who attend to the candidate, remove any distractors like phones, and make the candidate feel at ease – offer them water, tea, or coffee.

Start by asking your questions and listen carefully to the answers. Take notes, because a lot of what we say gets forgotten as soon as it leaves our mouth.

Leave some time for the candidate to ask any questions, which will show you if they have done their homework on your company and the role specifically. 

Once the interview is over, make a final note on how it went and what feeling you got from the applicant. These are important pointers you will use when you make your final decision. 

Step 10: Make a hiring decision and extend an offer to your best applicant

After you have done all your interviews and there are no more applicants to go through, it is time to make a hiring decision. 

Will you hire a single applicant or multiple candidates? Is there someone who really stood out that could be a perfect fit for the company, but wasn’t the highest performer on the skills assessment?

These are questions you need to answer yourself.

Take a few days to make an informed decision – speak with colleagues, go over the results one more time, and take as long as you need.

When you are ready, extend an offer to your best candidate and invite them over for another talk. When they come in you can further negotiate their benefits and any other job specifics. 

Onboarding entry-level employees

A crucial step in the hiring process is your onboarding program.

Many employees, not only entry-level ones, will feel disheartened if they are not shown the ropes when they first start.

If you don’t introduce them to the whole team and show them how things are done, they will not get accustomed to the workflow, which will affect your turnover rates. 

Entry-level employees are new to the work process more generally, so you want to ease them into the role as much as possible. 

Onboarding helps with retention rates and productivity. Employees become familiar with the company more quickly, they learn how things are done, and assimilate and start working as soon as possible when they are onboarded correctly.

A good onboarding program will include the following: 

1. Setting up devices, preparing documentation, and work culture

You should set up the devices they will be working with, give them access to important information, have them sign all the relevant HR paperwork, and provide them with a work email all before they come in for their first day.

You also want to tell entry-level employees about any specific aspects of the work etiquette – what to wear, when to come in, and who to speak to if they have a problem. 

2. Plan the first day

Send an email to your whole team that you have a new colleague onboard.

Once the entry-level employee comes in you want to introduce them personally to everyone, including their team members, their managers, and even the chief executive. This will make them feel welcomed and assured that they are starting a job at a place where communication is key. 

3. Assign a mentor

A good onboarding staple is to assign a mentor to the entry-level employee. The mentor will show them around, give them insights into how things are done, and be the main point of contact in the company. 

4. Give them first tasks

After they have been introduced to the team and welcomed into the company, it is time to assign them their first tasks. S

tart with small assignments to avoid scaring them with the workload. See how they perform and give them additional tasks as they progress. 

5. Check in with them regularly

You should have weekly meetings with your entry-level employee to see how they are doing and provide them with anything else they might need. Having such meetings will show an open doors culture which will help your new employee ease into the job faster. 

How to provide training for entry-level employees

Once you have onboarded your entry-level employee, your next step as the hiring manager is to provide them with the training they need to perform their daily tasks.

Remember that entry-level employees will have little to no experience, so training them is a vital step to creating a productive and efficient employee. 

You should provide them with plenty of hard skills training pertinent to their role. By investing time and resources into your entry-level employee you will boost their productivity, increase your retention rates, and further attract new candidates for future vacancies as word-of-mouth spreads that you invest in your employees’ professional development.

Valuable training includes: 

1. Soft and hard skills training

You want to hone and develop the soft skills that got them the job in the first place and also train them with specific hard skills needed to do the job. 

2. Cross-departmental training

Entry-level employees will gain further insights into how your organization works by going through all departments and seeing how they do things there. They will gain some transferable skills useful for their own tasks in the future. 

3. On-the-job training

Of course, the best type of training is the experience they get once they start doing tasks of their own. Entry-level employees are especially alert to what they are doing and will want to perform at their best.

An important aspect here is to encourage them and avoid being too critical when they make mistakes – that is how they will learn best. 

4. Continuous training

Even after the onboarding program is officially over, you will want to provide further training when needed. This shows that you are constantly interested in the development of your employees and want to see them grow as much as possible. 

Hire entry-level employees for talent and potential rather than for hard skills

Entry-level employees are a vital segment of your talent pool, and hiring fresh graduates can have immense benefits for your organization.

Even though such employees may not have the experience or skills to do a specific job, you have the unique opportunity to train them in a way tailored to your industry and business.

Essentially, you can build a talent pool of experts in your field. 

Hiring entry-level employees will also help you ‌fill in any skills gaps in your workforce. And they may provide you with much needed reinvigoration to spur innovation and change your organization for good in the long run. 

To find the most promising entry-level candidates for your business, build a pre-employment assessment with TestGorilla tailored to your company and the role. Sign up today for free and start hiring the star employees of the future.


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