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Hiring Fresh Graduates: 3 Lessons from Harvey Specter



Whenever graduation season starts, it also marks the beginning of a fresh new batch of eager younglings seeking employment. While hiring from fresh graduates is not for every company, some believe that a lot can be gained from it because newly graduates are extremely idealistic and their minds are full of fresh ideas.

If there’s one person who can prove that hiring from fresh graduates is not a bad idea, it has to be Harvey Specter of Suits (WARNING: spoilers ahead). Technically though, Mike Ross, whom Harvey hired as his associate, isn’t really a Harvard Law student so it doesn’t make him a “fresh grad”. But Mike proved to be a great choice, which tells us that Harvey really knew what he was doing. If your company is hiring from fresh graduates, here are 3 things that you can learn from Harvey Specter from Suits:

1. Filter them out

When faced with a massive pool of applicants, every HR manager knows that you need to filter them out and just select who you want to get to know more of. But what if you’re still left with a slightly big group even if you’ve already filtered them out? Do you still interview all of them and spend the same amount of time and effort on each one? Harvey Specter had no time to interview all those Harvard Law students, so he thought of a quick and easy solution – he asked for help from Donna, his executive assistant. In a very discreet way, a wink by Donna to Harvey means that a certain applicant wasn’t like the rest of the boring bunch. Such a simple brilliant trick, yet it worked.


Of course, you have to entrust this selection process to someone who knows what you want. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a wink. In Donna’s case, she knew Harvey well enough to make a decision that she knows Harvey will agree with. Also…

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2. Look beyond the resume

The reason why it’s a challenge to hire from fresh graduates is that they don’t have any experience in the real world yet. Yes, some may have been an intern for a company in your industry but that doesn’t really equate to actually being hired (we all know some only do it for the hours needed and some aren’t really given any relevant work). So how do you test their knowledge then? Should you just rely on the achievements they listed in their resume or how active they are in school organizations? Harvey was wise enough to not rely on a resume, well, Mike Ross didn’t have one anyway. But how did he assess Mike?


Harvey looked into Mike’s critical thinking in the real world. Upon entering the interview room, Mike’s suitcase opens and bags of weed pour out. Now, if Harvey was your usual employer, he’d probably not push thru with the interview anymore. But he was interested to know more about this weed suitcase-carrying kid who was smart enough to know immediately that he was in a drug bust.

For HR managers, doing a similar kind of interview (sans the weed of course) can be a great way to learn about a fresh grad applicant. Ask them about their experience when doing their final thesis or how they juggle their time being a working student. Get them to tell you stories about how they deal with pressures as a student to give you an idea of how they will perform as an employee.

Harvey was so impressed with how Mike dealt with the drug bust that he wanted to hire him then and there, but Mike wasn’t really a law student and he’s not from Harvard, the two basic requirements for the job. Just when Harvey thought he was going back to interviewing the boring Harvard Law student applicants, he realized that the best candidate was already in front of him.


3. Take risks

HR managers look at two things when they’re interviewing an applicant: 1) technical competency and 2) behavioral competency. Harvey discovered that Mike, a guy who takes and passes law school entrance tests and the bar for other people for a living, is actually one of the smartest people he’s ever met and has the qualities that could make a great lawyer. Harvey was really impressed, but without a Harvard law degree, Mike couldn’t be hired so he opened the door and tells Mike that play time is over. But Harvey realized that Mike was the best choice in that room filled with real Harvard Law students applying for the job. Harvey knew what he was looking for exactly, and now that a non-law student fits his standards is eager to work for him, he took the risk and hired him.


In the real world, HR managers will sometimes encounter a similar situation when hiring from fresh graduates. If you think that an applicant, who let’s say did not graduate from one of the top universities that your company always hires from, but has the technical competency and behavioral competency that makes him perfect for the job, then take that risk and hire him.

What are your thoughts on hiring fresh graduates? Do they really deliver?