The How To’s of Hiring and Managing Interns

Maybe you’ve been convinced of the value of hiring interns. Perhaps it was because of our previous post, or maybe it was something you already realized.

The question then becomes, how do you hire and manage interns in a way that’s going to benefit everyone?

Hiring and managing interns is a unique proposition, and it’s distinctive in many ways from the approach you may take with your part and full-time employees.

3 Tips for Hiring the Best Possible Interns

As we mentioned in our previous post, when you hire an intern it’s important that you really focus on making the process selective and just as if you were filling a fulltime position, you need to be focused on finding the candidate that has the skills and background that best suit your needs.

Here are three other tips to utilize when it comes to choosing your interns:

  • Look for creativity and center the selection process on a more innovative outside-the-box approach. Interns are meant to be fresh talent and they should bring something completely new to the table. Their youth and likelihood to be on top of cutting edge trends is a big component of what they offer, so you want interns that are going to be completely creative and bring something to your organization that you don’t already have. Look for resumes that have creativity or maybe follow a unique format. Make the interview process unique as well and you’re more likely to be able to find talent that’s going to have new ideas and perspective to offer.
  • Make intern candidates explain why they truly want to work for you. If you hire an intern who just wanted to land the position, and it didn’t matter what industry or what you do, you’re not likely to get a lot of enthusiasm. You want to find an intern who is truly passionate about what you do and who hopes to make it a career if you want someone who’s going to do the work and go above and beyond.
  • Let interns know up-front what the position will require. Interns tend to feel like they’re promised the world in the form of a glamorous internship and then when they actually get on the job it’s a different story, and this leads them to be unhappy and less productive in the position. Before you start looking for candidates, make sure your organization is clear on what interns will do and then definitively spell it out during the search process.

Once You’ve Got Them, How Do You Manage Them?

People who put internship programs in place may be unclear on how to make the most of it because they’re not sure how to manage these young people.

How you manage your interns is going to impact how well they do in your organization, how likely they are to turn into a full-time employee and also how people view your employer brand.

  • Avoid assumptions. Interns may have little or no work experience, and that’s to be expected and also it’s a fact that should play into your management style. Don’t assume an intern knows what anything means unless they explicitly tell you so. An internship is designed to be a learning experience and if you assume your intern knows something he or she doesn’t, it can lead to frustration and a bad overall experience.
  • As we mentioned in our previous post on tips for creating a successful internship program, there needs to be some level of challenge in the tasks you give interns. Don’t be a manager who’s afraid to pass on a challenge to interns—they’ll appreciate it and take more value from the program if they feel like they were given a sense of responsibility and had to tackle an important project head-on.
  • Be flexible. Interns are most often students at the same time, and you can’t necessarily approach internships in the same way you do regular employee positions. Work with your interns and find ways to be flexible that’s going to ensure you’re getting what you need from them, but they’re also feeling like they’re not being overextended or sacrificing when it comes to school.

If you’ve ever had an internship program you’ve been responsible for, what are your tips for managing it in a way that provides the best results for everyone involved?

Also consider Developing Talent and Tapping Into Potential Through Corporate Mentoring

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October 15, 2014   Updated :February 4, 2016   engagement, hiring, interns, recruitment   

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