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How to Find and Hire an Intern

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When it comes to recruiting, you want to make sure to hire the best of the best. But while that’s easy to say, in practice, this often gets more difficult or dare to say, complicated. The reason for this is that there are many skilled candidates and it makes it hard to decide who is going to be the best addition to your company.

Knowing where to look and coming up with an effective recruitment strategy can help you pick the one that meets your job requirements best. A hiring plan is necessary especially when hiring new interns because they are new to this, and let’s face it, you never know what you are going to get.

If you are hoping to recruit interns, this article is a great guide to finding and hiring interns…


Benefits and Disadvantages

Many employers recognise the benefits of hiring interns, but just like any other hiring decision, it comes with its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive option: interns work for little or no salary
  • New talent: most interns want to work diligently and showcase their skillset
  • Efficiency: office productivity will be increased without increasing your budget
  • Goodwill: satisfaction in helping young professionals with career goals
  • New energy: most interns bring creativity and new energy to the workplace

Interns are more likely to have new and innovative ideas to share with the rest of the staff. They are also usually more enthusiastic than people who are in later stages of their career. This means that they are more than willing to help with daily tasks and have many skills to offer. Most importantly, they are cost-effective and flexible to work outside office hours, e.g. on an evening or weekend, at peak times or when regular staff cannot be recruited.

Cons:

  • Time investment: recruiting and developing intern can take time and effort
  • Energy investment: sometimes it takes efforts to keep interns motivated
  • Busy work: role definition can be challenging in trying to keep interns motivated
  • Bad investment: negative experiences could damage company’s reputation

The entire process of looking and hiring for interns can be time-consuming and sometimes expensive. Not only that but once the interns are hired, there are millions of things that can go wrong. But, this depends on how well prepared you are to face the difficulties that come with it. Giving priority to your interns and giving them valuable work is vital.

Where to Find Them?

The best places to advertise a job or internship opportunity is on job boards, college/university careers pages, or social networks such as LinkedIn, Stack Overflow or Glassdoor. These are the best websites to look for specifically for interns:

Apart from online recruitment tools, you can boost your recruiting efforts with professional networking. Joining University fairs as an employer exhibitor, visiting colleges, specific departments, and classes or organising a campus recruiting can be equally beneficial. Such events allow you to meet up close with current students, build an initial connection with them and let them know what you are offering.

What Type of Candidate Are You Looking For?

If you want your internship program to be a success, you need to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for in candidates. While you may not find someone who has the whole package, you will need to assess skills, qualifications and experience in depth to make the best hiring decision. Recent graduates will have little experience to show on their CV, but any volunteering, university or part-time work they had in the past will be useful.

Good Interns:

To start with, these are some of the best qualities of an effective intern:

  • Relevant experience in the role/field
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Willingness to self-teach
  • Enthusiasm and initiative
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Can-do attitude and curiosity
  • Notetaking ability
  • Creativity

Bad Interns:

Now here are some red flags you need to be wary about:

  • Inability to follow directions
  • Lack of soft skills
  • Lack of dependability
  • No available references

The Hiring Process

You need to decide what your selection strategy is going to be? How are you going to decide candidates are fit for the role?

Before you make up your mind, take the time to review the following…

The Job Post

On the job advert, you need to provide a clear statement explaining what duties you expect the intern to perform. Apart from job duties, talk about the ideal candidate profile, qualifications, skills, and experience. This helps to make sure that you are both on the same page and you are not wasting your time on the wrong fit.

If you are offering any, you can also refer to salary. Career experts generally recommend that employers pay their interns, even if the money is only minimal. Such compensation can motivate interns to perform better in the work environment and receive a higher sense of satisfaction when they do a good job. Research finds that unpaid interns may feel frustrated with internship experiences or think that you are taking advantage of the situation.

The Application Process

Apart from asking interns to send their CV, it’s a good idea to create an online application form that allows you to get crucial information about each candidate. Make sure to include relevant questions but avoid too many of them because they can get easily bored while completing it. This is why it’s important for the application process to be quick and easy to understand. You can, however, add a few questions that require longer answers to find out how far they are going to go to impress you.

The Interview

At this stage is important to minimise the number of candidates you get down to 2 or 3. To do this, you may choose to conduct one-to-one interviews, group interviews, use psychometric tests, brain teasers or any other assessment tools you need. After this you can conduct a second interview if you think it’s necessary. What’s important here is to ask interns the right questions.

The Offer

Calling or emailing your interns are both acceptable ways of telling them you want them to work for you. Email is usually the preferred option because it provides the opportunity to go briefly over the contract and explain what the role entails in written. In the job offer, you will inform your interns when you expect them to start and encourage them to ask any questions prior to signing the agreement.

Finally, if you want to be polite, send a thank-you email to candidates who haven’t made it to the final cut as a sign of appreciation.

The Training Program

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, SME or startup, it’s important to come up with an attractive training program for interns. You can call this whatever you want – be it an internship, a traineeship, or a work placement opportunity depending on the job offer and requirements, but you need to make sure that you have prepared for this.

Having said that, a good internship program can benefit your interns and your company as a whole as long as you do the following:


  • Understand and respect labour laws regarding internships
  • Decide on the duration and type of training program (e.g. paid/unpaid)
  • Provide interns with enough information about the projects
  • Give clear guidelines on how to perform the given tasks
  • Implement an action plan for new interns
  • Schedule regular feedback through weekly or monthly check-ins

You need to decide how long this program will last, and whether you are going to pay your interns or not. Usually, a good starting point is to talk with your staff and decide how many interns you want to recruit and design some projects for them. Then allocate a supervisor for each and define some clear goals, timelines, and deliverables.

On the First Day

What happens on the first day of their employment is crucial for interns and your company’s reputation as a whole. The best way to start is to give your interns a tour around the office and other departments to introduce them to key people as well as those whom they will be working with closely. Also, you should give them a briefing to explain how your internship program works.

Talk to them about the projects you have prepared for them and make sure you sound excited about it. Assigning them real work early on is important because interns don’t want to fetch your morning coffee. In fact, if there is even the slightest possibility of them staying at their company after their internship is finished, you should know better than to treat them poorly.

Throughout the Internship

Caring about your company means treating your interns as your best employees. Invest in them and give them the kind of encouragement they need to succeed in your company. Don’t ask for too much or too little, and follow a balanced approach in regards to work performance and expectations. Go easy on them, and don’t expect them to know everything. Training them up to the point when they become valuable members of your team will take time, but it will definitely be worth it.

 

If you are an employer who would like to recruit interns, this guide can be a helpful addition to your recruitment efforts! Let us know if you need any more help on that in the comments section below…Good luck!