The Definitive Guide to Business with Marcus Lemonis

Marcus Lemonis' job interview advice for new college graduates

Marcus Lemonis' job interview advice for new college graduates

This summer, recent college graduates are entering a friendly U.S. job market, where the lowest rate of unemployment in nearly two decades.

However, it can still take new college graduates months to find their first job — and, even then, not everyone can get the job they want. More than 40 percent of recent graduates are underemployed because their first job does not require a college degree, while many others can have trouble finding a job in their preferred field.

Marcus Lemonis, the self-made millionaire and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” has some advice for any recent graduates who are still looking to land their dream first job.

“If I was interviewing a new graduate today, I would want to hear less about ‘my pay’ and more about ‘my opportunity,’” Lemonis tells CNBC Make It.

The self-made millionaire and CEO of Camping World explains that young people looking for their first post-college job should focus on showing prospective employers that they want a position where they can grow and learn by working hard, rather than seeming too preoccupied with the starting salary.

It’s fine to say in an interview, “I want to make a reasonable amount of money to pay my bills,” Lemonis says. But he adds that job-seekers should make it clear that they are willing to “do whatever grunt work was necessary” to get ahead.

What’s more, Lemonis says there is nothing wrong with being ambitious by letting your future boss know that you’re willing to work your way up the corporate ladder — even if that means gunning for the interviewer’s job eventually.

Lemonis tells CNBC Make It that he wants to hear recent graduates tell him: “I want your job, so tell me what I need to do to have your job when you retire or when you move on.”

“If the interviewer is confident in their position they shouldn't be threatened by that,” Lemonis says. “You want to hire people that are aspirational, that have big goals and big dreams.”

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It’s important to let prospective employers see your ambition, Lemonis says, but he still cautions new graduates to avoid appearing cocky in an interview — in other words, don’t think your academic success guarantees you a ticket to your dream job.

“I'd rather have somebody that’s willing to go to battle and to roll up their sleeves, and to be on the front lines, and to get bruised and to get rejected — and to do all these things — than somebody who thinks… they've got a 4.0 [GPA] and now they should be running the joint,” he says.

In short, employers aren’t looking for someone who thinks they’ll just be handed a great job, Lemonis says. Employers want to know that a new graduate is looking “to build the path to success” by working diligently in an entry level position with an eye toward learning enough to reach their dream job down the road.

“You want to hear people say that success is important to them, but that they know hard work is part of that process and that it isn't all about the money,” Lemonis says.

CNBC's "The Profit" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

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