How to hire interns

Maëlle De Francesco
Maëlle De Francesco

This blog post launches a new series of blog posts that we are delighted to present on the HireHive blog. This new ‘How to…’ series aims to help you with your recruiting tasks. The posts will be full of tips and resources to help you during your recruitment process.

As it’s almost time for students to look for internships after spending the year in college, we thought that we would start with how to successfully hire interns in your company! There are a lot of questions on this topic. So, let’s get started!

What you need to know before hiring interns

Before hiring an intern, make sure that you have the time and resources to train them. There’s no point in having interns in your company if you don’t have time to mentor them. You will also need to ensure that you have projects for them to work on. Having an intern in your company is going to take up quite a significant chunk of your time. Not only will you need to free up some time to welcome them, onboard them and train them, but that’s not all. It’s also important to have one to one meetings with them during the internship. Make sure that they are getting on well with their tasks, and that everything is going well with their colleagues.

Before the internship, you should discuss with them what experience they want to get. You will have to figure out what they want to learn and what they can bring to the company. Indeed, interns aren’t there to serve coffee or make copies. By having interns joining your company, you’ll be exposed to fresh perspectives and new ideas. They will also have some technical knowledge to share with you. That’s a great way to bring a fresh vision to your business and your projects!

Why should you hire interns?

Having interns in your company is great for several reasons. The first one is that it gives you the opportunity to gain new and fresh perspectives on your projects. Usually, interns are just out of school or college and have learned all about theory, so they will be able to bring some of this knowledge to your company. Of course, they won’t have the experience you would expect from full-time employees. But this also means that you will be able to train them specifically for your industry.

You might wonder what kind of internships would be most beneficial. A lot of students look for shorter placements, sometimes 12 weeks/3 months before going back to school or university. In short placements, you might not have enough time to see the intern’s full potential. Realistically, the intern will probably not be ready to perform in the first few days of the placement. Just like regular employees, they will need time to adjust to their new workplace. Internships lasting 6 months could be more interesting for you as training an intern does take time. You obviously want to see the results before the end of their placement. In addition, interns coming to your company for a longer placement could be a great future hire. 

In saying that, it all depends on the projects you want to assign to them. 2-months internships can be a great opportunity if you have short-term projects. But don’t forget that even if they are in your company for only a short period of time, your interns will be looking for real work experience. Don’t assign them to the copy machine! This is not only a bad move for the overall intern experience, it is also really bad for your employer branding.

Do you have to pay interns?

This is the question everyone seems to be asking: do I have to pay my interns? 

Depending on the country your company is based in, there are different guidelines on how interns have to be compensated for their work. In France for example, the guidelines are pretty strict: internships lasting longer than 2 months have to be paid. The intern has to be compensated at least €3.75 per hour in 2019 (which is roughly €578 for a month with a 35-hour per week internship contract). So the first thing to do is to check legal requirements in your own country!

If your interns are doing the same work as full-time employees do, it means that they are working as an employee. Yes, they may not yet have the same qualifications you would be expecting from full-time employees. But not paying them is unfair and doesn’t convey a good image of your company.

Keep in mind that during the internship, you are going to train these interns, share your knowledge. After the internship and all the efforts you made to train them, you might consider hiring your interns as full-time employees. If you are planning on potentially hiring them after their placement, you need to make sure that you give them a top notch experience. If they do an unpaid 6-months placement with your company, do you think they will want to continue working with you afterwards?

 Our tips to recruit an intern

Now on the recruiting process itself. You should recruit interns the same way you recruit employees. Of course, they will have less experience than regular employees. However, it’s important to focus less on this aspect and instead try to suss out their motivation. Another important thing when hiring an intern is culture fit and personality. Try to find someone who will fit in with your team and will bring you new ideas. You are going to spend a lot of time with them in the next few months, so try to make sure that they can be a good fit. And last but not least, make sure to ask them about the tasks they’d like to have and what they would like to learn so that you can shape the internship to give the most to them and also get the most for your company. 

Don’t be afraid to hire interns from other countries. A lot of students now want to go abroad to improve their language skills. This could be a great opportunity for you if your planning on entering new markets, or even bring some diversity in your team. ERASMUS internships, for example, are very popular. These kinds of internships have specific requirements, but having ERASMUS interns can be a huge benefit for your company as they will bring their own language and culture with them. This could open a lot of opportunities for your company. 

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