Workplace Recruiting & Staffing

How to Hire and Recruit Great Interns!

By: Kaylyn McKenna
Sep 29, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Hire and Recruit Great Interns!

Are you looking to recruit and hire great interns for your company? Here is how to attract qualified applicants!

great interns

Prioritize Drive Over Experience

Internship applicants will likely have limited work experience. They may have held a retail job or a work-study job on campus, but won’t have years of experience in their field. Be flexible with your requirements and be open to different types of experience of qualifications. Consider roles or participation in on-campus organizations or volunteer work as relevant experience.

Variety of Skills

Often the best interns are not the ones with the most work experience, but instead the ones with the most drive. If they genuinely want to learn and approach the opportunity with enthusiasm, they’ll likely perform well. Applicants that are involved on campus or in their community and that have good grades or that have been balancing a job and school are already demonstrating their work ethic and time management skills even if it is not directly in their field.

Be Flexible

When hiring interns, it’s important to be flexible with your requirements and expectations. Be open to shifting dates or schedules around based on their school schedule. If hiring for a summer internship, be aware that the length and dates of summer break vary between semester and quarter based programs. When hiring for the fall or spring semester, you might find a candidate that is a great fit, but their availability doesn’t line up with the schedule you had in mind for the intern position. Be open to adjusting schedules for the right intern. Also, try to be open to different majors as long as they’re relevant to the role. The intern possesses the desired knowledge through their major, minor, or prior internship or work experiences.

great interns

Be Flexible

Also, be flexible about the internship itself. Large companies with formal internship programs may have less flexibility, but if you’re a smaller company, be open to adjusting the duties or guidelines. If you find a candidate with a specific interest or multiple interests, consider working those into the role.

Make the Internship Mutually Beneficial

Hiring interns is a great way to free up some of your team’s time and offload some on the lower level tasks and projects. However, that doesn’t mean that you should have your intern spend all day filing papers or doing other monotonous work. Before posting an intern position, take some time to think about what the key projects and learning objectives for the internship will be. Giving the intern a research project can be a great way to utilize the intern’s skills. If you’re considering changing CRM, Accounting, or HRIS software, have the intern conduct the initial research and present the findings. This can save the decision-maker hours of web searching. It will allow the intern to learn about different services used in their field of interest, too. This will give them a better understanding of the field and talking points in future interviews, if they are asked about their experience with such software providers or systems.

Consider This

Ideally, an internship should include ownership of at least one more extensive project to highlight on their resumes as an accomplishment. Be sure to highlight additional internship benefits in the internship job posting. Do you provide letters of recommendation upon completion of the internship? Are interns considered for full-time openings at your company? These will stick out to potential candidates, particularly in the current job market.

great interns

Provide a Mentor

Include information in the job posting about who they will be working with. Motivated internship candidates will want to know who in the company they will be reporting to and learning from as well as any other people they’ll be able to meet and speak with such as company leaders. Make sure that their supervisor will have time to work with them and provide support and mentorship. Also, include their supervisor in the selection process.

Engage Current Interns

If you have current interns working with you, engage them in the process too. They’ll know where their peers search for internships, have direct insight into what it takes to succeed as an intern at your company, and be able to provide the relevant answers to candidate questions. They may even be able to share the opening on their own LinkedIn or social media accounts or may know someone from their school that is looking for an internship and meets the requirements. They may also be able to share the opening with Professors or on-campus organizations in the major related to your opening. This can be a great way to target potential candidates in your local community.

Use The Right Platforms

Internships can be posted on student-focused or more general job boards. Handshake is a platform used by most major colleges and universities to connect students with internship opportunities. Using student-focused platforms will help connect you with the right talent. Individual colleges in your area may have their own internship listing, job boards, or internship/job Facebook groups. Many students are also active on LinkedIn and use it to seek out internship opportunities or referrals.


Today’s students also tend to do their research before an interview and check out your company’s online presence. Encourage interns to share their experience and write reviews on Glassdoor. This is so future interns will find positive and relevant information when researching your company and deciding whether an internship will be a good fit.

great interns


Unpaid internships are going out of style. If you are not a nonprofit, it’s best to offer a paid position if you genuinely want to find the best talent and give students a positive experience. It is legal in many places to provide internships in exchange for college credit. However, that limits your candidate pool quite a bit. When hiring multiple interns, it’s especially important to pay and open up the opportunity to a diverse applicant pool. Having interns from diverse backgrounds will make the program more enriching for the intern group. This will also generate better results for your company as the interns will bring a variety of perspectives to their work.

Ultimately hard work should be fairly compensated. Hiring interns can also be a great way to source and try out candidates for future positions. If you paid fairly and treated an intern well, they’ll be more likely to want to work for you after graduation.

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