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10/16/2014

Like students looking for the perfect spring or summer internship, employers seeking the right intern should begin screening candidates sooner rather than later.

Interviewing potential interns requires a different set of questions than interviewing full-time hires, as interns generally have less work experience to guide the interview. You also may be looking for a different set of skills than you require in full-time candidates, as interns normally perform a variety of tasks.

Begin by asking interviewees about their major and how they think it relates to your internship. Talking about previous classroom experience can not only put them at ease, but also demonstrate whether they have conducted research about the open position.

Most people love talking about themselves; future interns are no different. Ask them about their involvement in campus groups, Greek life and community involvement. Well-rounded students likely can juggle the diverse tasks given to interns, and volunteer work is a keen insight into what they value in an employer or community.

Sometimes a student may possess skills that aren’t clearly discernable on his or her resumé. Ask interviewees what abilities they bring to the table as well as what skills they want to improve upon during their internship. You may uncover a talent that could greatly benefit your organization and expand the internship description to fit their unique skill set.

Chances are, potential interns aren’t completely sure what they want to do after graduation but have an idea of the type of work they’re interested in pursuing. This is a good opportunity to discuss similar goals – especially if you’re looking to transition the internship into a full-time position. Don’t shy away from candidates whose goals differ slightly from what your organization does. This can bring a new perspective to the table.

Like all interviews, end by offering to answer questions. This is a great way to gauge how much research candidates did prior to the interview regarding your organization. The best candidates ask thought-provoking questions that demonstrate an interest in your specific organization or position.

Interviews are nerve-wracking for both parties, and this anxiety is often heightened for interns with little interview or job experience. Guiding the questions to reveal what they hope to learn from the internship as well as the experience they can bring to your team can lead to a best-fit internship for all. 

Photo: www.nadinemuller.org