THE BLOG
05/21/2013 03:27 pm ET Updated Jul 21, 2013

School's Out Forever: Hiring the Best New Grads

College students all over the country are turning the tassel on their graduation caps this month and entering the job search. This can mean great things for your company, as top-notch entry-level talent is flooding the job market.

According to a study from The National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers say they will hire 2 percent more recent grads from the Class of 2013. This is down considerably from the 13 percent they predicted in the fall of 2012.

Just because the hiring forecast isn't as sunny as anticipated, however, doesn't mean you can afford to lose out on the best new diploma holders. After all, your competition will be looking to snap up the best new grads to add value to their organizations.

So here are some ways to ensure you find the best entry-level talent for your company with less time wasted and more money saved:

Personally Connect Earlier
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 63 percent of hiring decisions are made less than five minutes into an interview. This means it's even more important to connect with candidates on a personal level earlier in the process.

A personal connection can tell you more about a candidate than what's on their resume. Since many recent grads are going to have similar credentials but vastly different skill sets, personal connection becomes even more important.

When looking at new grads, it might be time to skip the traditional resume and have candidates submit a video resume. On video, they can better explain why they're passionate about your position and the value they can bring to your company.

If you stick with the traditional paper resume, maybe you can skip the phone screen instead. Normally the middleman in the hiring process, the phone screen doesn't bring much value to your hiring but does add on tons of time. Instead, utilize one-way video interviews, where candidates can answer written questions on camera. If the candidate is all wrong for the job you can move on and focus on someone who's a better fit, without getting stuck on the phone.

Look For Company Culture Fit
There will be plenty for your new grad to learn on the job, but one skill you can't teach is how to fit into the company culture. When looking for great new grad hires who will stick around long-term, company culture alignment is one of the most important factors to consider.

In a survey of some of the most frequently asked questions by Glassdoor, many of the top queries had nothing to do with job performance and everything to do with cultural fit. So use the interview as an opportunity to find out how your new grad candidate will fit into the company mold.

During the interview, ask candidates what their five-year plan looks like. Are they just looking for a job, or are they looking for a career ladder to climb? Ask about their ideal company culture and find out what they know about your organizational environment.

Don't assume just because the candidate applied for the job that they'll fit into the office with ease. Be very clear about what the company is like in the interview and look for candidates who are already using the opportunity to ask questions about your culture. These new grads are thinking about their future and how your organization will fit into their work life.

Expectations Versus Reality
In the indie movie 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon Levitt's character had great expectations of a romantic future with his ex-girlfriend, which rapidly came crashing down when he was faced with reality.

New grads have precious little real-life work experience and therefore might have some lofty expectations of what life will be like at your company. For instance, 77 percent of grads think their employer will provide career-advancing training, while the reality is only 48 percent of grads actually acquire this on-the-job education.

When talking to grads in the interview process, be clear on exactly what they can expect from your company. Outline career prospects, educational opportunities, and company perks. Pie-in-the-sky expectations can lead to new grad employee turnover, so make sure grads understand the reality before accepting your offer.

This works the other way around, as well. You might form lofty expectations of a good-on-paper candidate which just doesn't align with reality. During the hiring process, ask new grad candidates for concrete examples of experience and skills, whether it's a school project or an online work portfolio. Have candidates prove their value, so you don't have to wonder if they'll live up to expectations.

Go Fishing For Talent In Your Intern Pool
If you have an internship program, this can be a great source of new grad talent. These interns have already proven what they can do. You already know they fit into the company culture. They'll require little training, since they already know how the company works from the inside.

Best of all, interns who turn into full-time hires tend to stick around. After five years, nearly 63 percent of intern hires were still with the company, as opposed to 48 percent of outside hires. And with the cost of employee turnover, this should be enough to convince you to give your interns serious hiring consideration.

Finding the best new grad candidates isn't always easy, but it can result in your company being flooded with great new ideas and new ways of approaching old problems.

What are some ways you hire the best new grad candidates? Share in the comments!

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.