What to Look for When Hiring Interns to Round Out Your Team
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “If I only had the time to organize those files, put together a progress report, or pull together some research for this project?” We’ve all been there. With many companies trying to do less with more, a great way to get some additional help is to hire interns. The interns get career building experience, and you get some help.
Hiring an intern is different from selecting a more seasoned veteran to fill a full-time role on your team. Here are some tips on what to look for:
It’s not so important what their background is, but it is helpful to evaluate what types of roles they’ve had in the past. Jobs from their high school years or during college can give you a sense of their work ethic and if they have the motivation to be productive. For example, if they are about to enter their senior year of college, it may be crucial to note whether they have or haven’t had any other internships or paid stints — and then digging further into that topic during an interview.
Positive Energy and Excitement for the Job
Take a close look at how your applicants carry themselves when you talk to them. Do they seem genuinely excited for the opportunity and have a positive vibe about them? Do they ask you questions about the company, their role or your experience? The interns you select should infuse some good energy into your team, so that you can be confident they will bring a positive attitude to the job.
Willingness to Learn
Avoid anyone who offers an “I know everything” sort of answer to all your questions. During your interview process, successful candidates should illustrate their eagerness to soak up all the experience you and your organization can offer them. Openness to learning is what differentiates the interns who will likely turn out well from the ones who won’t get the most out of their experience.
Dress and Behavior
This tip is similar to when you are hiring a full-time employee, but it is still very important to consider during the interview process. While it’s not a given that all potential interns own a suit, do they at least dress professionally? Do they seem extremely nervous during the interview, or do they have a certain confidence about them? Essentially, look at whether or not the way they dress and carry themselves would fit in with your team and environment.
Someone Who Could Grow into a Role on Your Team
Interns can become a great pipeline for your organization, regardless of the department. At least in the interview phase, try to determine if your applicant could become a key contributor on your team as a full-time employee down the road.
Further Tips To Enhance the Intern Experience
While it’s only normal to give your interns some of the busy work that you and your team are trying to avoid or some of the more administrative tasks, also consider giving your interns a project that they “own” during their time at your company. Allow their supervisor to act as an advisor, but let the interns take charge. If you are looking at the possibility of hiring them, this project will give you a good sense of how they think and process information, and how well they can step up to the plate. And even if you aren’t able to bring them on full-time, this opportunity will give them a strong portfolio piece to take to their next job interview.
The benefits that successful interns can provide to your team and your organization are numerous. And, regardless if you are able to pay them during their internship or hire them after they graduate, you are giving them the opportunity to learn more about what a career in your field — and at your organization — looks like. College studies give students basic knowledge for life in the real world, but nothing can supplement real world experience, in an office setting, to gain a better understanding of what life will truly be like after college.15