Recruiting for internships is a whole different ball game when compared to traditional roles. To help you adopt the best approach in recruiting interns, we asked recruiters, hiring managers and business leaders for their best advice. From treating interns as you do all employees to using LinkedIn to recruit internship prospects, there are several tips that you may follow as your best guide for recruiting interns to work in your organization.

Treat Interns as You Do All Employees

The best practice for recruiting interns is to stress to them that they will be able to experience working on a real-life project that is important to your company. Whether it be an inner-office project or working on an actual job site, the ability for them to contribute to the company can be a deciding factor on whether they join your company for their internship experience. This type of internship experience enables thek to see that they are valued, looked at as a long-term investment with the company, and that there’s a possibility for full-time hire upon graduation.

Ronald Kubitz
Director HR & Recruiting, Forms+Surfaces

Reveal the Chances of Being Hired Full-time

Every industry works differently and has different uses for its interns. These parameters also differ from one company to another within an industry. While some companies are known to hire interns with the primary aim of recruiting them as full-time employees, others are known to approach interns as primary resources to take on mundane tasks at the workplace. As a fair practice, it helps when companies reveal their hiring policy to interns and specify the chances of an intern bagging a full-time position with their brand. This will help interns make well-informed decisions.

Riley Beam
Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Give a Guest Lecture

Giving a guest lecture at a university is a triple win. The professor is happy to have valuable content for his/her course. The students get to know you and more about your company. All the while, you can promote your company, give an idea of your company culture, explain what you are doing as well as what you are looking for in terms of interns. Plus, you can start to spot some clever students that might be the perfect fit for your internship!

Bjorn Verbrugghe
Marketing Manager, Unigift

Hire Interns as a Team and Offer Collaborative Experiences

When recruiting high school or college interns for your organization, keep in mind their experience throughout their education – it’s all about the team! Budget for more than one and hire as many interns as you can. Create a true description of duties that are expected to be performed, including those that involve working in a team.

The benefits of this include: your interns gain valuable insights from each other, you have the value of shared insights from your interns and they are getting additional time to learn about the dynamics of teams.

Creating this kind of experience will lead to more engagement and retention of interns, and you’re providing an educational environment that your interns will not soon forget.

Linda Dausend
Senior Consultant and Account Manager, FlashPoint Leadership Consulting

Consider Recruiting Early

College students are one step ahead when applying to internships so they can coordinate their class schedule around the opportunity. Post on job boards at least one semester ahead to recruit top talent. This allows you to move forward with a proper interview without rushing the process.

Natália Sadowski
Director of Aesthetics, Nourishing Biologicals

Host On-Campus Events

Many universities hold internship fairs where companies can meet with candidates face-to-face. You can tell them about the business and what you’re looking for, as well as talking about the work they would be doing. This gets straight to the point and eliminates the informational interview that usually comes after an application.

Jodi Neuhauser
CEO, Ovaterra

Emphasize Mentoring Opportunities

The best interns are eager to learn. What they really want most of all is knowledge. Tell them you will pack as much vital information into their brains as possible. If you can promise them that – and deliver on it – you’ll have a steady stream of motivated interns at your disposal. Additionally, your seasoned team members will be the ones to show them the ropes. Those employees who aspire to be managers themselves will enjoy the opportunity to serve as a mentor for one or more interns. This would be good practice for them. In the end, you may wind up hiring some interns full-time down the road, which would be an added benefit.

Trevor Ford
Head of Growth, Yotta

Interview Applicants for Their Potential, Not Their Experience

Interviews can be a fantastic way to evaluate the candidates’ job-related knowledge, skills and attributes, but only if the interviewer is well-prepared. Behavioral questions are useful for digging deep into a candidate’s professional experience and domain expertise, but only if the candidate has the experience to talk about.

For intern recruitment, go for situational interview questions instead. A general format you can use to create questions for almost any situation is: “Imagine that X. What would you do?” Just replace X with any situation that the intern candidates are likely to face on the job. Situational questions are great for evaluating the candidates’ problem-solving skills. Facing new problems will be a daily occurrence for interns, so make sure you assess their approach already during the interview stage!

Max Korpinen
Co-Founder and CEO, Hireproof

Build a Relationship With University Staff

Years ago when I worked for a regional non-profit, I proposed and successfully launched my employer’s first internship program, which opened the door to more internships being created and launched within the organization later on. But launching the first internship was possible only through the relationships I built with key university staff at the career and volunteer centers.

How did I do this? First, I reached out to them about our goal of hiring interns and how they would have an impact on our mission as a non-profit. Then I gave them tours of our facilities, which was an eye-opening experience for them to see the breadth of the help we were providing our community. But also helpful was running our internship by them to get their feedback on what could be improved. Then when internships were available, I emailed the university staff about the new openings.

By reaching out and building trust with university staff, we were able to fulfill our need for interns on a regular basis.

Justin Vajko
Principal & Chief Strategy Guy, Dialog

Attend University Career Fairs

With so much happening in the online world today, it can be easy to forget about universities’ career fairs. However, they are still very much a thing. Career fairs allow you to access some of the brightest young minds while they are still studying. They also allow you to interact with students in-person which can give you a good feel for who they are and whether they would be a good fit for your company in the future.

Loredo Rucchin
CEO, Jukebox Print

Focus on the Value a Student Can Bring, Not on Grades

Eliminate the belief that GPA or where a student goes to school is an effective assessment of their work ethic, potential, future success, intelligence or grit. These factors do not determine whether or not they will be superstars on the job.

There are plenty of nuanced reasons for why students don’t or can’t attend a “top tier school” or don’t deliver straight A transcripts. Give students the opportunity to show you who they are and the value they can bring to the table, regardless of what access they’ve had.

Lean on qualitative tools like short answer questions and interviews to assess if applicants have the right combination of skills that are perfect for the roles you’re filling.

Kayla Michele
Co-Founder and COO, PeduL

Use LinkedIn to Recruit Internship Prospects

High-performing go-getters, even while in college, may have a LinkedIn profile. A best practice is to use this site to find students whose interests and goals closely align with your business. You can learn about their school, major, coursework and post-graduation goals. Then, you can reach out to them directly about an internship instead of waiting for them to find you. Utilizing LinkedIn to recruit interns is a proactive approach that can yield the perfect fit.

Raina Kumra
Founder and CEO, Spicewell