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Red flags you may be interviewing the intern from hell
Interviews for summer internships are in full swing and employers across the country are trying to find the right college student to fit the bill. How can you make sure you find the ambitious youngster rearing to go rather than one who is more self-entitled than self-driven?
I believe you should start by defining what you want from an intern. A whopping 97 percent of employers planned to hire an intern or co-op student in 2014, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and it’s likely that similar numbers will look to do the same in 2015. If you don’t proactively define expectations and develop a program, the experience will likely lead to failure.
Before announcing you’re taking applications, know where the intern will work and who he or she will report to. Just like any new employee, someone will need to train this person and it may take a little extra time. Define what the day-to-day will be like, and be frank about it during the interview process.
When it comes time to interview, there are a few red flags to watch out for to ensure you get an intern who is a good fit:
- Lack of enthusiasm – Quality interns will make up for their lack of experience with enthusiasm for learning at your organization. If someone is ill-prepared and disengaged during the interview, expect the same if he or she works for you.
- Arriving late – There are a lot of things you wouldn’t expect an intern to know simply based on his or her lack of life experience. Tardiness, however, isn’t one of them. Being on time is necessary and refusing to do so is a sign of disrespect.
- Too focused on salary – I believe all internships should be paid simply because if you expect someone to work hard for you, even an intern, that person should be compensated. If an interviewee focuses too much on compensation, however, his or her heart is likely in the wrong place.
- Negativity – If the intern-to-be speaks poorly of past employers or professors, it’s a sign that the problem might be the person rather than the situation. Plus, no one wants an intern who is downer; a pleasant personality is a must.
One thing you may want to be a bit lenient on is if an intern appears nervous during an interview. For a typical job candidate, nervousness is a red flag. For an intern, a certain level of nervousness can be expected since this might be the first time this person has interviewed in a professional setting. Use your best judgement.
Bottom line: Advertise an internship and you’ll likely get hundreds of applicants. Today’s savvy college students know that a degree on a resume doesn’t count for much without some experience to back it up. Having a solid program and keeping an eye out for red flags during the interview will ensure that you and your intern get the most out of the experience. And who knows, maybe you’ll just happen to discover your next permanent hire.