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Small Business Digest



Entry-Level Candidates Have Unrealistic Job Expectations, a Third of Executives in Study Say

More than one-third of executives believe entry-level candidates have unrealistic career expectations.

“Bringing in fresh talent, particularly those with cutting-edge technical skills, can benefit many firms, [but] it does present unique challenges,” says Donna Farrugia, The Creative Group’s executive director. “Namely, employers have to assess job candidates with sparse résumés and little to no real-world work experience.”

Farrugia offers these tips for employers to look for when screening candidates:

  • When evaluating recent graduates, employers can still spot individuals with a strong work ethic. Those who have been in customer-service roles, such as waiting tables or working in retail, for example, likely have experience solving problems, managing stress and collaborating with others–skills that are useful in any entry-level role.
  • Entry-level candidates also should demonstrate professionalism–by arriving on time to the interview, dressing professionally and having a positive, upbeat attitude with each person they encounter. Check in with the company’s administrative staff to get their thoughts on the applicant; employers want to hire someone who’s respectful of everyone, regardless of rank.
  • Being detail-oriented is essential for most entry-level positions, but companies also want new hires to be able to see the big picture. When meeting with candidates, ask questions designed to assess whether or not they view their work in a larger context.

“A good way to find out about a candidate’s expectations is to ask the individual to describe his or her ‘dream boss,’ ” Farrugia says. “The response should shed light on the amount of autonomy and direction the applicant will need to thrive. Someone who needs excessive guidance, for example, may not be the best fit if you don’t have time to walk through processes step by step and provide constant feedback.”

She offers additional ways to spot a candidate who might have too-high expectations:

  • Be wary of candidates that bad-mouth professors or previous managers. A highly critical or mean-spirited comment should serve as a warning sign that the individual lacks discretion or is difficult to work with.
  • Candidates who seem to have an inflated sense of their talents, or who talk more than listen, will likely have difficulty collaborating. If the organization is highly team-oriented, employers will want to make sure the candidate has a team-play attitude.
  • One of the best ways to ensure a good match is to bring someone in on a temporary-to-hire basis. This arrangement allows employers to more accurately evaluate someone’s qualifications and work style before extending a full-time offer.

For full survey results, please visit

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