With approaching summer, you may have started receiving internship applications from interested students or maybe you yourself are actively looking for interns. As someone who makes a living out of connecting interns with organizations, I wanted to share my experience on how you could hire best interns for yourself.
I started my company as a hobby project (a blog in 2010). In over six years it has grown into world’s largest internship platform, largely built by a team of interns. Yes, for the first couple of years the company had only interns in its team (I was the only full time member) and even today they constitute a sizable chunk of our 50+ team. What’s more, 70 per cent of the full-time team members that we have, started as interns first. So in that sense, Internshala is a truly of the interns, for the interns and by the interns platform.
In the past six years, we must have gone through 10,000+ applications, interviewed over 2,000 candidates and hired more than 100 interns. Other than skills (which is a must), here are top three things I look for in an intern:
An Example Of Hard Work
Start-up is all about long hours and lot of ground work and you need folks who can roll their sleeves up and get on with it. We ask candidates to share an example from their lives when they think they worked the hardest and hire only if we find the answer meeting the bar. The example can be anything, your board exams, competition exam, some project/assignment in college – the point is that in your 20 years of existence there must have been at least one thing that drove you to put your heart into it.
A Genuine Excitement To Work With Internshala
The candidates who can relate to the problem my firm is solving at a personal level are likely to contribute far better than those who may have better skills or may be just chasing money or brand. A basic research on Internshala (like how big is the team, what are the different products and services we offer, how we make money etc.) is a given, the better candidates surprise us with lots of useful products or services feedback that actually makes my company better and some of them even end up creating video proposals for us. To check the sincerity of the candidates, it is always a good idea to give a short assignment (either during application or at a later stage).
Humility and Openness
I am blessed to have worked with some of the smartest interns over the years (results speak) but none of them carried a chip on their shoulders. Hiring people who are humble and open to feedback takes care of so much mentoring overload later on plus you get to build a truly great place to work for everyone. To test this, we often give a strong feedback on some of their past work and ask them how they could have made it better; ask them to list their weaknesses; ask who they are grateful to in their lives and why, ask them about their family background and upbringing etc. Answers to all these questions help you understand the real person behind the resume and her value system.
Having these three filters almost always do the job for us. In case you are wondering if it is not easy for someone to fudge answers to these questions – it usually does not happen, especially in a one on one chat (that way students are very honest), and even when it does, it is rather easy to spot. Yes, we have to let go of many otherwise good candidates who do not meet the bar on above three, but in our experience the short term pain is worth the long term benefits.
Hope this helps and may you find the best interns for your start-up this summer.