Career Tips

5 Helpful Tips for Hiring and Managing Interns

May 23, 2022

If you’ve worked with interns before, you’ve probably experienced some of the common pitfalls. But internships done right can be extremely beneficial for you and the interns. They offer interns valuable work experience while taking tasks off your plate. To make your internship program a success, we’ve put together a few things to keep in mind when hiring and managing interns.

Tips for hiring and managing interns:

1. Be clear about their duties, skills required, and the time commitment.

No one likes busy work. It’s okay to have interns help with mundane tasks but make sure you also offer them more meaningful work and include them in meetings that help them learn and grow. The more they feel like they are contributing, instead of just punching a clock, the more engaged they will be at work.

2. Vet them like you would a permanent hire

Skimping on the interview process is a sure way to crash and burn down the line. When you treat the hiring process like you would for any other employee role, you’ll ask more meaningful questions and uncover the right candidates. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself as you interview each candidate:

  • Are they just fulfilling a college requirement, or do they genuinely want to be there and contribute? You want someone enthusiastic about the field or role.
  • What skills do they have that would make them an asset in the role? While they may not have much job experience, you can look at their skill sets from the limited job or volunteer experience they do have. Bonus points if the applicant can identify those themselves.
  • Are they willing to commit the time required? Interns can get a bad rap for flakiness. If you pay them or offer school credit, it’s easier to hold them to specific standards and time commitments. 
  • What are their career goals? To be successful, they need to feel like they are learning something that will help them in the future. If your role offers them tasks in an area they want to go into or teaches them skills that transfer, that’s a good deal for them and you.

3. Follow the laws on compensation.

Internship laws have changed over time. Make sure you understand whether you are required to pay your intern a salary or if they can work for you in exchange for college credit. Use this “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether your intern is an employee under The Fair Labor Standards Act.

4. Don’t neglect the onboarding process. 

Sometimes interns fail because they were not adequately onboarded. You’ll want to provide them with a company handbook, calling out dress codes and other important office policies so you set them up for success. Also, help them get to know the key staff they may interact with and how various departments interface with yours.

5. Set objectives and a performance review process

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.” While you might get lucky with a go-getter, self-motivated intern, most of your candidates will need clear internship objectives and performance goals laid out for them. The more specific you can be, the better. With these clear goals, you can regularly meet with them to review how things are going. You also have specific benchmarks to call their attention to when they are not performing. If you are paying an intern, this also gives you leverage to let them go if they don’t meet the standards agreed upon when you hired them. Remember that interns are there to learn, so give them constructive feedback they can understand and offer a second or maybe even third chance to adjust. 

Managing interns is an incredible opportunity to grow your management skills—something you can leverage in your next role. If you follow these five tips, you’ll create a win-win scenario for everyone.