What to Look for When Hiring an Intern

What to Look for When Hiring an Intern - Style Nine to Five

Hiring an intern can help the productivity of your company, while simultaneously educating the incoming workforce by providing real hands-on experience. You want to be able to create a space where you can generate value not only for the intern, but for your company at large. Hiring an intern can be tricky, as it can be difficult to know what to look for, especially if you’re new to bringing people on board or don’t have an HR background. These are some guidelines that are easy to follow and can help make your intern hiring process easy.


For interns who are coming to your company without industry experience, look at what their previous employment was like. What were the transferable skills they may have gained? Draw these out by asking them a question like, “How did you assist an unhappy patron at a restaurant who had to wait for a table longer than planned”? Their answer to a question like this can give you insight on their professional communications and problem-solving skills. If a candidate worked at a retail store, ask, “How did you keep track of incoming inventory?” A question like this would give you a stronger understanding of their organizational skills.

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Ability to Take Initiative

Part of the purpose of hiring an intern is to increase the productivity of your company. It is important to hire someone who takes it upon themselves to complete tasks without being asked. Hand-holding just won’t cut it, as it will limit you from completing your own work. It’s important to recruit an intern with a high emotional intelligence and strong intuition. For example, if a candidate has a role in a post-secondary industry-related club (i.e. a fashion internship, or as a contributor at a campus magazine), it shows that they not only have a sincere interest in the industry, but they also took it upon themselves to gain experience.

Willingness to Learn

Interns who possess a willingness to learn and grow in the field, compared to those just looking to fulfill a course credit, make such a difference. An ideal candidate is genuinely interested in the field and wants to begin to build industry contacts. With this in mind, they are excited about daily tasks and complete them with an acute attention to detail. An intern who is eager to learn is also able to take constructive criticism and implements feedback right away, as they understand that it inherently enables growth in their skills.

Attention to Detail

Anyone can complete a task, but completely a task meticulously can be difficult. Interns who tend to the fine details that are often overlooked demonstrate that they care about understanding all the smaller moving parts of your company as well as the bigger picture. This can also point to their emotional intelligence, showing that they aren’t just concerned with ticking something off of their to-do list, but they’re dedicated to completing it the right way.

These guidelines will help you to find the right fit for you intern role. However, before beginning your search, it’s a great idea to create a checklist in order to have a “roadmap” for what you are looking for and what the role requires. When you’re in the interview process, it’s also important to look for transferable skills they may have learned in other industries, and to take into account whether they are a good cultural fit by looking at them from a holistic perspective.

Looking to recruit new employees but struggling to find the right fit? Try Style Nine to Five’s Contingency Recruiting service. Style Nine to Five’s Founder, Christie Lohr, will use her industry contacts to fill positions while also utilizing her large social media following to promote your position.

Demetra Maragos Demetra is a Master of Arts candidate at New York University, who loves thinking outside of conventional lines to combine her passions of everything culture, fashion and lifestyle.

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