Using The Interview Process to Select an Effective Intern
Selecting a college intern can often be a difficult process for a business. Because most college intern candidates have little “real world” experience, you will often have to make a selection based on far less concrete information than other candidates will provide. For this reason, an effective interview will play a major role in ensuring that your business selects a suitable college intern.
Preparing for the Interview
The first step to an effective intern selection process is to determine exactly what your company is looking for. By doing so, you can avoid wasting time due to vague or shifting priorities in the intern selection process.
For this reason, you should enter the interview with the answers to the following questions clear in your mind:
- What personal traits are you looking for?
- What types of professional knowledge do you consider vital for this position?
- If a candidate does not measure up in one or more areas, will your business be willing to work with him or her to improve?
Most importantly, you should keep in mind the fact that an intern is not an experienced worker, and expecting the same skills an experienced employee would bring to the interview is very unfair to your candidates. An intern will be learning through the internship and you should keep this in mind when preparing to make your final choice.
During an interview, you should work to put the candidate at ease. For many candidates, this may be the first time they are attempting to secure a position in their chosen career, which can make them quite nervous. By being calm and making the interview a discussion, rather than a series of questions, you can avoid the appearance of an inquisition. In turn, this can help the candidate open up and provide you with a better view of their character and skills.
Questions regarding the candidate’s personal life can help you see the kinds of skills they might bring to your business, even if they themselves are not aware of this. A candidate who is highly involved in team sports or social activities outside of his or her school is likely to bring useful interpersonal skills to the office. Conversely, solitary hobbies may indicate that your interviewee is a self-directed worker who can be given independent projects with a minimum of direct supervision.
Previous Job Experience
While many candidates have never worked in their field before, they may have previous job experience that can help them as an intern. Even part-time or menial jobs can give a good look into the candidate’s work ethic and related skills. For example, a candidate who has attended school while also working a part or full-time job likely has developed excellent time-management skills that can help ensure a successful internship.
Questions Regarding the Candidate’s Educational Experience
Asking the candidate about their college can help you understand their motivations and strengths. A student who has attended a small college is likely used to smaller groups and a more personal touch but is also used to being subject to greater scrutiny than a student from a larger college. This will also assist you in determining what type of work environment the candidate is best suited for. Equally, the institution’s academic and social culture may impact how your candidate views the internship. For example, a student from a school focusing on the hard sciences may have a quite different attitude to the internship than a student from an institution that is largely known for its focus on the humanities.
What Does the Candidate Want Out of the Internship?
Unfortunately, many interviewers overlook the fact that the interview is not simply about determining if the candidate is suited to your business, but also about seeing if your business is suited to the candidate. An intern who feels that they are not benefiting from the internship as they should will be a poor fit for your company. By talking to the candidate about their goals and what they feel the internship will provide, you can make certain that both parties will be getting what they want.
Ultimately, by establishing a friendly atmosphere, focusing on questions beyond what is on the candidate’s resume and working to ensure that both you and the candidate understand exactly what the internship involves, you can help select the kind of intern that will be a benefit to your business. This can be especially important, as today’s successful interns often become tomorrow’s valuable employees.
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