5 things you should look for when hiring an intern

Published on April 24, 2020 | by - highbridgeacademy

5 things you should look for when hiring an intern

Next level your internship interviews, gaining you better interns currently and increasing the chances of them as future employees.

Obviously, quality internships are of great value to the interns themselves.They get excellent opportunities to “link classroom knowledge with workplace realities”, gaining experience which makes them more valuable when they begin job hunting.

Yet, the host company or organization must spend a good amount of resources on an intern. For example, besides a physical work location, someone must mentor this individual, taking time away from their regular workload.

So, why would a company or organization dedicate resources to an internship?

One huge reason is future employability. Converting an intern into an employee can lower an organization’s recruitment and training costs.

Is this really relevant?

Why, yes! It is estimated that over 50 percent of interns become employees (46.6-58.6%). In order to give your company the best chance of converting your interns to employees, here are 5 things you should look for when hiring an intern.

Before we dive in…

Succeeding at each of these tips means you need to take some time to think about each point before interviewing your interns. Obvious, right, but you might be surprised how many busy managers and entrepreneurs don’t make the time. As a result, they don’t always end up with the best intern match, and they can forget about any future employee potential.

The 5 Things

Existing skillset

What does your potential intern bring to the table, and how well do those skills match your organization?

An intern may be incredibly talented…but in areas which are not relevant for the internship you are offering or even your company as a whole. While you are prepared to spend time on your intern, you should not have to train them from scratch.


Team member

Most likely, your intern is going to be part of a team.

Are they going to fit in/get along with the other team members? Best to take an honest look at the team, noting their plusses and minuses.

Are members supportive or quick to criticize?

What is the team culture, humor, communication style?

Keep in mind that a poor intern-team fit is going to cost your organization time and morale.


Personal goals

Of your intern, that is.

Where do they see themselves after the internship?

What are some of their personal goals and aspirations?

The suggestion is to dig deep here. For example, if their dream job is in a surf-friendly location and your company is high up in snow country, chances are they will not be interested in continuing as your employee. Perhaps your prospective intern has always wanted to create a startup, and their idea is to work for a few years and then go it alone.

Would their “perhaps” few years as your future employee be worth your “for sure” investment in them now as an intern?

Of course, we never know how long an employee will stay at an organization, but knowing up front that it’s only for a short time could be a game changer.


Non-academic stuff

Grades are only one window into who someone is. What else makes up this person? Time to ask questions about who they are outside of school.

Do they volunteer? If so, where and for how long.

Are they responsible for some or all of the care of a person or pet? This can give you some insight into their commitment and self-motivation—good qualities for interns.

Have they been employed anywhere till now? If so, where and for how long. Perhaps their employers can give references.

What about hobbies? Even if they don’t have time for hobbies right now, what did they do in the past?



How gritty is the prospective intern? If you have not ever seen it (or not for a while), spend a worthwhile six minutes watching this TED talk.

Food for thought, right?

It would be a good idea to check the grittiness of this person. You can have them do it online (no need to give any personal information) or download the PDF. Alternatively, you could just slip in some of these questions during the interview, observing their reactions and body language as they answer.


To wrap it up…

Evaluating prospective interns using the above 5 tips can enable a better intern-organization fit. Also, it can increase the probability that you will want to hire them as an employee—and they will accept. If you do get to the employment stage, chances are that their stay with your company will be more productive for longer since you have, essentially, “test-driven” them during their internship.

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