5 Tips for Interviewing an Intern

By Adam Robinson,
May 16, 2013

Welcome to the real world Class of 2013.

It’s that time of year again, thousands of college graduates will be scouring the internet looking for internships so they can gain the experience they need to succeed in the real world. As hiring managers, you hold the key to their success. Feel entitled? You should! This is your chance to get the help you need around the office, while educating the next generation of workers.

The only problem? Your shiny new intern walks into the interview with a resume that contains more paper and less words. Most hiring managers would balk at lack of experience, and reject the candidate after the initial interview, but this is where you have to be patient.

Don’t mistake lack of experience for lack of motivation. This college graduate or student is coming to you for the experience they need to become a working adult, that’s motivation! Here’s 5 tips to interviewing interns the right way.

1. Expect enthusiasm

After an interview with a graduate, one might be slightly overwhelmed. Their energy and enthusiasm for anything labeled “job” is comparable to a kid at Disney, but don’t think that will hinder their ability to perform. A graduate’s excitement and enthusiasm will give your office a spark and might even help you discover innovative ways to perform boring tasks.

2. Don’t expect knowledge

They are called interns for a reason, they need guidance from you to gain knowledge. Even though it takes some getting used to, teaching interns about a job is the only way to share your experience and get them up to speed on business. It takes a lot of patience but you were there at one point too and it’s only helping them.

When interviewing an intern with no prior experience, ask them about how they handled certain situations in school. Past behavior predicts future performance.

3. Ask them to elaborate

Sometimes just asking “Why” after they answer an interview question will give you more information about the candidate therefore making your decision easier. Interns are prepped for interviewing and some of their answers may be pre-packaged. Avoid cold cut answers by asking them to elaborate. You may be surprised to hear what they have to say!

4. Expect plenty of communication

Thank you cards, phone calls, emails, and texts can all be expected from intern candidates. They want to make sure you clearly know that they are interested in the job after an interview. Don’t mistake their enthusiasm for begging, it’s a millennial’s nature to use several communication routes in order to get their point across.

5. Use an interview guide

It is so important to use an interview guide when interviewing interns. You want to ensure you are asking the same questions to every single candidate and the only way to do that is by following a guide. Create the interview guide around the traits you want an intern to have.

If you are looking for an intern who posses organizational and accountability skills, ask behavioral interview questions around those traits.

Still confused about hiring and interviewing interns? Read our Hiring Millennials guide and reap the benefits that Generation Y has to offer.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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