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What traits does a hiring manager look for in a graduating student who does not have years of work experience?

I am about to head into my last semester of college and have not yet found an internship. I may have to move after graduating, and was wondering what traits help an applicant/candidate get a job when they do not have the years of work experience behind them. #human-resources #hiring

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Adam’s Answer

Hard work, honesty, goals accomplished, leadership and teamwork experience... Think of it this way: STAR
- Situation
- Task
- Actions you took
- Results and what you learned


As soon as you get the first job in your desired field (even anything close), it's then that you will start to go 30 minutes early and stay 30 minutes late to master your craft and distinguish yourself among peers.

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Nancy’s Answer

Hiring Managers will look for what experience you do have - volunteer work, team projects from school, and after school or summer jobs. Focus on what you did and what your role was, did you step up and provide direction for the team? Did you have an idea that when put into play saved time or money? Look for volunteer opportunities in the field you are going into, that way you will have some experiences to share. Also, remember that you may have to start out in a lower level position than you were hoping in order to get into the field.

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Selina’s Answer

Hi Melissa,


Based on my experience as an Internship (Program Manager, I can share with you 8 characteristics managers look for in college graduates. Below are some examples that gives you an idea of what to include on your resume and talk about during your interview. Most of the characteristics listed below are things that you've done, experience, or has been a part of while in college. Its great to relate what you've done in college to the position. In doing so, keep the following characteristics in mind. I hope this helps!


  • Leadership
  • Attention To Detail
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Relevant Work Experience (If applicable)
  • GPA
  • Team Mentality
  • Public Speaking Ability
  • Strong Writing Skills
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Aurele’s Answer

Just to add to the great comments that have already been made, I want to re-emphasize the importance of extra-curricular activities & part-time jobs/volunteering. Extra-curricular activities (such as being part of relevant student clubs/societies, self-led personal development courses) demonstrate to hiring managers that your interest in your relevant field goes beyond what you are being taught on your course. Additionally, volunteering and/or part time jobs are always relevant for hiring managers as they really help to develop your soft skills (communication, collaboration etc) which are important in every job.
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Sen’s Answer

Hello Melissa,
Very Interesting question. To be frank , I have had experience of interviewing people for last 30 yrs, not as an HR person but you can call me as Line Manager, Senior Manager, ...and lastly as CEO. Presently, I am teaching management graduates wherein 'Recruitment/Selection' is taught in greater details. While I was teaching 'Interview', I was relating to myself as to what I was looking for in a candidate for all these years.

To be honest, in 30 mins or so, you can not make a 100% correct judgement about a person. Actually, every interviewer makes his/her mind as to what s/he should be looking for in a person so that s/he (candidate) is proved to be the 'best fit'.

During an interview, those question are asked which helps to make an opinion about you as to "whether or not the candidate will succeed in this particular role"?

Now let me answer your question that what s/he is looking for in a fresher? The answer would be:

1. Mix of knowledge base and that will be seen while how s/he communicates.
2. Level of Confidence while narrating his/her story/journey till date.
3. How s/he handles the questions (snapshots) by interjecting while s/he is narrating story.
4. How s/he handles difficult questions or reactions while being put under stressful conditions?

Based on above you can make out that interviewer looks at : Your basic background (school/college level education) and merit/scholastic attainments or even say Intelligence/IQ level which is 'MUST' for that position. Along with this, some of the other qualities will be judged and these are even carry more weight at times like confidence, truthfulness, psychological bent of mind/stability, pressure handling capability and attitude.

Your experience as a volunteer or even as a leader of a group in school or any place comes very handy. Even if you haven't had an opportunity to be a leader/volunteer, show your willingness to change and ready to accept and meet new challenges.
If you have some fresh idea about the job or business or even to bring about social change, please do not hesitate to bring it out at an opportune moment. Make sure, you have given your best shot during that half an hour with confidence and smile.
Hope this helps. All the very best!
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. Don't worry too much! Internship is not a must.
Below is my suggestions :
1. Some corporates may have some graduate program (other than internship) in the college. They may host information in the campus from time to time you keep an eye on it.
2. Some corporate may post their openings in the career office of the college
3. Contact some recruitment agency both online and physical ones to seek for opportunities
4. Explore any job opportunities on linkedin or other online job forum
5. If you have any corporate you have interested to work for, you can proactivity to send your cv to their HR department
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Hannah’s Answer

Hi Melissa,

What a great question! It can seem like every job post you see requires experience, so I understand how frustrating that would be for someone just entering the workforce. I am currently a hiring manager myself and try to balance my focus between what I see on paper (the experience) and how I feel during an interview (the person). While experience can be great, I also look for qualities such as confidence and examples of resourcefulness, which can come from other aspects besides experience. Volunteering during your free time and being an active member of clubs/organizations are just a few examples that can lend themselves to your interview. How did you recently solve an issue that arose? How do you work with others? How do you reflect on the experiences in your life in order to learn from them? You can answer all of these with life experience, not just work experience. When I'm conducting an interview, I want to see how the applicant values relationships and that they are willing to learn. I want to hire someone that might not know every little thing but is a team player and will ask questions to understand. Yes, experience is great, but a willingness to learn and continually develop oneself speaks volumes. My advice is to focus on how your life has given you experiences that can contribute to the type of worker any company would love to hire. Someone who is eager to learn, willing to help, and operates with a team mentality. I hope that provides some insight for you. Good luck!

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UH’s Answer

Even if you do not have years of work experience under your belt when applying for an entry-level role, taking initiative and just showing that you want to learn and improve is a big plus! Be willing to learn! If you do not have any work experience, use your extracurricular experience and positions in school, clubs, organizations, if you volunteer.. etc. Articulate how you contributed to the organizations that you joined! You can even use sports and hobbies, such as if you were part of a team that indicates that you can work well with others, can work under pressure, or can think creatively for hobbies, etc. Utilize your skills and what you have learned to make it sound like a strength. Fit your educational experiences and applications to classwork projects relevant to the position, and to questions in your interview!
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