The Top Reasons You Probably End Up Hiring Mediocre Interns

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Oct 28, 2013

Not all interns are cut from the same mold.

Some are fueled by their passion and flawlessly execute tasks with a smile on their face, while others tend to hide in their cubicle watching the clock tick as they’re assigned projects. And believe it or not, ending up with the latter is a lot more common than many would like to admit.

With the conversion rate for turning interns into full-time hires at an all-time high of 58.6 percent, landing outstanding interns is a must for companies across the board.

If you’re not bringing in top-notch interns, it’s time to send your traditional intern recruiting and hiring processes back to the drawing board. Today the highly competitive intern hiring environment has made it far more difficult to engage the right interns and keep their attention through the hiring process.

If “awesome” isn’t the first word out of your mouth when you’re asked to described your intern class, then it’s time to reevaluate your efforts. Here are the top reasons you’ve probably collected mediocre interns:

1. You’re failing at selling the experience

Internships should be synonymous with amazing experience. If you’re not effectively describing the types of projects and experiences your interns will take part in on your internship job description, then “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

In a recent InternMatch report, 58.9 percent of students said gaining experience and building a portfolio was the most important part of their internship experience. When it comes to creating your internship job description, leave your potential intern candidates in awe by giving them a look into a day as an intern with you by highlighting projects, events, what they’ll learn and your unique company culture.

Better yet, make it interactive. If possible, add links to examples of projects and events completed by your previous interns. Your potential candidates will be able to gain a 360-degree view of the position.

2. You aren’t generating enough buzz

You may be regularly attending career fairs and posting your internship listing on your website, but it takes a lot more effort to wrangle awesome interns. Start generating buzz for your internship program by utilizing your social media platforms more effectively.

To start, think outside of Facebook and Twitter. These are great platforms for engaging potential intern candidates, but it’s best to do something special when it comes to getting students buzzing about what you have to offer.

Get active on LinkedIn by establishing a group for your internship program, create an Instagram for showcasing your company culture and day-to-day office functions, or put together your own video series in which your employees and interns share their favorite experiences while working at your company.

3. You aren’t interacting with candidates

It’s time to put a name to a face and actually develop a two-way chain of beneficial conversation with your potential intern candidates. Nothing fuels interest more than genuine interactions, and this is something many companies are overlooking during the intern recruiting process.

This can come in many forms, and it doesn’t always mean visiting classrooms or attending every industry networking event for young professionals.

Interact with your potential hires online by regularly monitoring Quora for industry-related questions. You may also want to consider holding a Google+ Hangout Q&A session to answer a variety of questions potential candidates may have about your company and the industry as a whole.

If you boast an “open door” policy for your interns during their time with you, consider offering an “open email” policy by letting students ask you a variety of questions about your career and your job field whenever possible.

4. You aren’t making the right connections

According to a recent InternMatch report, 32.3 percent of students said their personal connections were their best resource for finding an internship, while 17.8 percent of students said their university’s career center was their most helpful resource.

Let’s face it: a vast network of connections will bring in more talented interns.

Start building stronger educational connections by contacting the universities and colleges across the nation that currently turn out top talent in your industry. Get familiar with their professors, career center directors, and professional student-run organization advisers.

While you may be across the country, you can still ask to speak with students through a video chat like a Google+ Hangout or Skype. Create a presentation focused on getting hired within your industry and touch on your own career. Students will be able to ask you questions directly about your company and how they can be successful in getting hired in the future.

5. You aren’t testing their aptitude

Dull recruiting and hiring processes bring in mediocre interns. If you really want to see if your intern candidates have what it takes, consider challenging them during the hiring process.

At Under Armour, they created a social media challenge to help them land the “Ultimate Intern.” Interested students and recent graduates were asked to upload their resume and complete social challenges throughout the application process. These included a 40-second speech, an interview with an athlete, and the creation of a video documentary to prove they have the skill and experience to take the internship to a whole new level.

Set up your own social media challenge for your potential interns by choosing a variety of aptitude-testing tasks to help assess interns as they move through the hiring process.

6. You’re not offering enough flexibility

Gaining the attention of talented students means adhering to their scheduling needs. Unfortunately, 62 percent of employers don’t let their interns work remotely.

Draw in more remarkable interns by improving the flexibility of your opportunities by allowing interns to work from home or a coffee shop at least one day a week. If you’re really looking to kick it up a notch, consider taking a completely virtual approach to your internships.

Nearly 59 percent of students are open to the idea of virtual internships, and your opportunity might be perfect for their busy schedule.

7. You aren’t learning and growing

When was the last time you asked your previous interns for feedback regarding their internship experience?

Soliciting insight from previous and current interns will help shine a light on areas needing improvement and help you promote the areas getting a lot of recognition. You should also be auditing your internship program against other well-known programs to ensure you are staying on top of the latest trends and improvements.

8. You aren’t taking referrals from previous interns

Remember, birds of a feather flock together. It’s common for talented students to know other students who fit the same, high-achieving mold.

Tap into the networks of your current and previous interns to spread the word about your internship program. Consider creating a referral program with cool incentives as a way of attracting better intern hires in the future.

Better interns start with better hiring. Continue improving the way you recruit and hire for your internship program to impact the future of your company.