How much effort and care do you take when hiring interns for your organization? For most employers, hiring interns may seem as just another easy hiring process since all they need are extra hands to do the job. For others, it may take a complex process since they are investing on them to become future employees at the organization.
So how do you ensure that hiring interns works in your favour and not against you? In this post I explain the good side of hiring interns, the disadvantages that come when the process is done wrong and how employers can ensure they benefit from hiring interns.
When Hiring Interns Looks Like a Great idea
Bringing on interns in your business to help you on a project or reduce pressure on the work force may be a great move for your organization. This is because your business will stand to benefit from the new skills, fresh experience and new perspectives that these young bloods have to offer. It also becomes a less expensive venture for your business since you do not have to invest a lot of money into their salary like you would on new employees.
At this point, hiring interns becomes the best idea in cases where you have a lot of work to be done but you are on a tight budget and hiring experienced employees would be a great risk for your business. So whether your interns are unpaid or paid, as an employer you are able to train them into the kind of employees you would want to work for you on a long term basis. This then ends up benefiting the intern who learns invaluable skills and your business in the long run.
While this may sound easy and typical, hiring interns do not always bring out a positive result and could sometimes hurt a business beyond what can be quickly salvaged.
When Hiring Interns Becomes a Bad Idea
In my experience in HR, I have come to value the importance of hiring the best candidate at the very beginning and this is one thing most employers tend to overlook or are not able to accomplish when hiring interns. Sometimes employers want to only hire interns who appear great on paper, forgetting that you also need to consider how these people are going to fit into your company culture.
For instance, high calibre graduates who feel that you should be paying them will only bring your business challenges as they have already built up resentment towards you and your company. They may not mention it, but if you focus on their actions, you will realize they will not be putting in much effort to their work. Despite you not losing money when they are unpaid, your business suffers in reputation once they leave the organization and you end up losing out on value that you would have gained if you hired the right candidate.
Another instance when hiring interns becomes a bad idea is when they require a lot of time for training and managing but as an organization you cannot find good managers to selflessly offer their time. In such a scenario, interns end up being the errand boys and girls for the organization, without much learning in skills or experience. The outcome here is the same as when you hire the wrong intern and the reputation of your business suffers in turn. It may not have been your intention to end up with this negative outcome, but if there was a problem in managing that you did not follow up on and the interns fell into the common stereotype that interns are meant to run errands, there is no escaping the wrath.
As you can see, hiring interns may not always add any value to your business, even when you believe you are saving money in the process. But whether hiring interns brings a positive or negative outcome is a situation that can be controlled during the hiring process, and this is how.
How you can ensure hiring interns works for your business
- Identify and understand the type of interns your business needs
Employers take up interns for various reasons; some are usually looking for extra hands to live out the three or 6 months period, while some hire interns to train them into becoming permanent employees. Whichever you case is, to make hiring interns work for your organization, you need to first understand the role you want them to play. This will help you identify the type of interns to take up, looking beyond a good grade on paper and hiring depending on potential, attitude and motivation of individuals.
It may be difficult to pick out the best candidate since there is not enough to match them to, but during an interview, you can already tell which of the candidates will fit well in your organization.
- Make the interns love the idea of working for you
Just hiring interns and letting the period they are on internship run its course without constant challenges along the way will not work well for you or the interns. As an employer, the best way to get value from your interns is by investing in their training and development and ensuring they also try to handle the difficult tasks. It may be easier to give interns the menial tasks like typing or constant photocopies, but treating your interns as permanent employees will help increase their motivation and they could surprise you with new ideas.
They will also represent your business once they leave, so why not give them something good to praise you for? Whether you are taking up interns on short term or long term basis, always allow them to live out their potential.
- Understand that hiring interns is not a one way street
Most employers make the mistake of hiring interns because they want assistance or some extra hands to do the dirty work. That is very wrong. Organizations that have succeeded from hiring interns will attest to having taken the process as a mutually beneficial idea. You hire interns because your business could use the assistance without spending so much money, but you also remember that the interns are there to learn and pick up new skills.
Once you operate under this mind set and focus on giving your interns opportunities to grow under your business, they feel motivated to work extra for you and the fact that they are unpaid will never become an issue.
The End Game
The job market is filled with fresh graduates who went through internships but are still clueless about their profession, and when hired, they can hardly do the actual work. This only helps to prove the stereotype that most interns are tasked to run errands instead of being given opportunities to learn and grow. We are also blaming Universities for having half-baked graduates, yet as employers we also contribute to the lot whenever we do not offer the best during their industrial attachment.
Hiring interns will only work for a business when employers are ready to look at the idea on a different scale and with a different set of eyes. There may come a time when you need to hire an intern on a long term basis but you will not find any if your organization has experienced a bad reputation from previous interns. And when you do, the ones you find will hardly add any value to your business.