Interns and Interviewing
Hire Slow, Fire Fast. Every Good Employer
This season of summer brings great weather, fresh summer produce, and an abundance of college students looking to intern. This is for the most part a very American phenomenon. People who are paying $50,000 for their education every year, are willing to give up their time to work for free. I guess it makes sense because if they are actually paying that much during the school year and learning for it, they probably see the internship as a different learning experience which they are getting for free.
This is a great resource, and for the most part, a lot of them are looking to work with start-ups. Of course with any work environment, ease them into it. Make sure you do not give them any high risk tasks, and actually invest the time in teaching them. This brings up the biggest complaint for the most part. A lot of people who are critical of hiring interns think they actually waste more time managing than actual productive work gets done by the intern. I would say that interns are not suitable for all start-ups, but also it’s an ability to develop your own management skills.
When interviewing interns, or employees for that matter, I have made too often the mistake of trying to prove my own legitimacy, or the company’s legitimacy. These are smart people, and they are going to work for me for free! Yes, because it is a unique experience. The learning curve is steeper, the work is more exciting, and you actually get to make real decisions. I would improve on my interview skills by trying to prove their legitimacy and really quiz them on their background. Slight improvement. But the real deal breaker is as good as they are, even with academic or work experience that is relevant, I always left the interviews thinking what are they actually going to do? Not even on day 1, but what am I actually going to get them to work on. That’s the biggest question, so spend the most amount of time discussing it.
Fan Bi is a guest blogger and Babson ‘09 Alum who started Blank Label, an e-commerce site for custom dress shirts.