Top Tips for Hiring an Intern
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Harris HR MD, Theresa Pruvost talks about her positive experience of hiring an intern.
We often hear lots of negative stories about internships, particularly around interns not being paid and then being worked into the ground. Well, I want to share, from an employer’s point of view, my positive experience of hiring an intern and give you my top tips on making an internship successful for both you and your intern.
I hired an accountancy graduate for three months to work alongside my Finance Manager. I saw this as an opportunity for someone leaving university to gain experience in the day-to-day running of a busy finance department. It could also free up some crucial time for my Finance Manager for her continuing professional development including developing her line management and mentoring skills; all positives for this driven, enthusiastic manager.
So here are my top tips that made my internship hire so successful:
Who’s going to line manage your intern? If it’s not you, involve the line manager every step of the way: I wasn’t going to be responsible for managing our intern but my Finance Manager was, therefore I ensured she was involved in every stage of the process so that she felt completely included in the hire.
Interview properly just as you would for any permanent vacancy: Ensure you have prepared the right interview questions so that you can be sure your intern will be a ‘good fit’ for your company.
Make it worthwhile for them and you: Ask your intern what they want to get out of the experience and align this with your own expectations to create a win-win situation. Our intern wanted to demonstrate to prospective employers that he had gained experience of administrating accounts payable/receivable as well as credit control, and that he had used accounting software. We were able to offer all of this which meant that his tasks were meaningful to him and us.
Prepare an induction: As this was a short-term, part-time role, I prepared a more brief-than-usual induction but with the same purpose as inducting a permanent employee. This was to help the intern settle quickly into the new work environment and to give a sense of being part of the team, as well as providing necessary information like Health & Safety along with scheduled training on Company systems and procedures.
Pay your intern: Our intern was bright and motivated - why wouldn’t we pay for that? I worked out that I could afford to pay for 15 hours work per week. We were flexible on which days he worked, allowing him to undertake other part-time work.
Be a responsible employer: I provided an ‘offer of internship letter’ stating the terms and conditions of the internship. I classed my intern as a worker, paid the minimum wage and included statutory holiday entitlement. This set a positive tone right from the start.
Be a great employer to work for: Employees become self-recruiters and marketers for great employers.
My intern said of his experience with us, “The Finance Manager is so experienced and organised - I’ve learned so much from her.”
My Finance Manager said, “He has been a huge help to me and it’s been an absolute pleasure having him as part of our team for three months. It will be great to hear how his career develops in the future.”
Our intern was chosen for an interview and subsequently offered a post as Assistant Accountant with a local authority as soon as his internship was completed!
If you would like support and advice regarding the recruitment of interns, apprentices and other employees contact us today!