What top employers look for in new college grads

Five steps to ace that job interview
Five steps to ace that job interview

The name of your college and your GPA probably won't help you land your first job.

Only 1% of recruiters say those are top factors when hiring new college grads, according to a new survey from Korn Ferry Futurestep that asked 1,500 professionals about their companies' hiring plans.

"There are still some organizations that want to focus on elite schools and GPAs, but that's trending away," said Troy Steece, a college recruiting expert at Korn Ferry Futurestep.

He said those recruiting for technical jobs like engineering might be more likely to restrict their search to candidates with high GPAs from specific schools.

College major was a top factor for just 3% of respondents.

So what will recruiters be looking at?

About 61% said that "drive" and "passion" were top factors.

Here's how to show you've got what it takes:

Don't miss the career fair

At career fairs, you'll get a chance to meet with recruiters face-to-face without having to leave campus. Making a good impression in a few minutes could be tough, but there's a good chance it will lead to an interview.

"Companies are making first round interview decisions right there," Steece said.

But find out what companies will be there and research them before showing up. Know what they do, as well as what internship and entry level jobs they have open.

Prepare a 30-second elevator pitch about who you are, what your major is, and why you're interested in working for the company.

Calling all Class of 2017 grads! Have you landed your first job? We want to hear about it.

"Tell us why you want to work here. It shows us you're being deliberate and calling your own shots. That itself will differentiate you," said Adam Blumberg, vice president, Key Accounts at Korn Ferry Futurestep.

Companies will be on campus this fall to recruit seniors for jobs and juniors for internships. But showing up as a sophomore and getting your feet wet is a good idea, Steece said.

Tell a story

Once you land an interview, you need to show -- rather than tell -- a recruiter that you have passion, drive and leaderships skills.

To do that, tell a story about a specific time you overcame adversity or faced a challenge. Draw on your experiences from clubs, volunteering and work experience.

Related: 5 interview hacks to crush it and land the job of your dreams

Keep the story concise, but be prepared for follow-up questions, Steece said. For example, the recruiter might want to know about how you made a decision, how people reacted to bad news when you had to tell them, and how you responded if someone else in the group got upset.

Ask questions

At the end of the interview, the recruiter will likely ask you if you have any questions. You answer should always be yes.

For Steece, this is a deal breaker no matter how well the interview has gone up until this point.

Related: Career advice you hear all the time that's actually bunk

"You should have so many questions that we don't have time for all of them," he said.

Ask for examples of the kind of work you would be doing, or examples of projects current employees are already working on. Ask the recruiter what they like about their job, or what they find most challenging, Steece said.

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