Even after all the hours you spent poring over résumés, conducting phone screenings, and asking tricky interview questions, sometimes bad interns slip through the cracks.
Sadly, this happens more often than you’d think.
But other times, the stars align, the fates conspire, and you wind up hiring the best intern ever.
If this happens, hire them – immediately – before someone else does. Great interns are a rare thing of beauty in the working world, and if you miss the chance, they’ll be poached as soon as you can say, “We have a comprehensive benefits package.”
To be quick on the draw, you need to be able to recognize the signs that you have an intern in your midst that’s worth immediately hiring. Here are some of those signs:
They ask the right questions
- WOCinTech Chat/flickr
“The best interns know when to ask questions,” says Paul Schrodt, Business Insider’s entertainment editor. “But they also know not to ask a million small questions that just take up a lot of unnecessary time. Intuition and common sense are important.”
Your intern anticipates your needs
“If an intern regularly shows the ability to anticipate needs, lock them in as a full-time employee,” Sherry Dixon, senior vice president of Adecco USA, tells Business Insider.
“Someone who knows to provide support before it’s asked for could be your next rising star,” she says. “This trait means your intern has a can-do attitude and is already picking up on your business goals.”
They do a better job than you asked for
Interns who can take a task a step further are worth hiring, says J.T. O’Donnell, the founder of career-advice site CAREEREALISM.com and author of “Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career.”
“For example, if they are asked to do something but realize they could improve the results if they made a little extra effort, and they do it without asking, that’s a young professional that understands the more value they provide, the more they are valued,” she tells Business Insider.
They are flexible and calm under pressure
“Adaptability is one of those soft skills that can outweigh an entry-level job candidate’s lack of experience,” Dixon says.
“In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, an intern who is flexible and calm under pressure is likely someone worth investing in,” she explains.
They treat the internship like the career opportunity it is …
“Some interns treat the fact that they’re an intern as permission to sit back and wait for things to happen – like in grade school, when our only job as students was to sit and be taught,” says Bryan Logan, an evening news editor at Business Insider.
But the best ones treat the opportunity like a permanent, full-time job.
… and they understand how it will get them to where they want to be
“The best intern I ever had was completely dedicated to the position,” says Sara Silverstein, an executive editor at Business Insider. “He knew exactly what he wanted to do with his career and was crystal clear about how the internship would help him get there.”
Silverstein attributes that fundamental understanding and appreciation for why he was there to his ability to find opportunities to do and learn more.
“His outlook and drive got him in more important meetings and more high level tasks than any other intern I have ever worked with,” she says. “It was easy for him to be genuinely excited about everything he was doing because he could see exactly how it was leading to his future dream job.”
Silverstein notes that, even if you don’t get the internship of your dreams, great interns figure out how the role can help them to get where they really want to go.
They compete at the level of staffers
- Flickr/ITU Pictures
“The best intern I’ve ever had basically just started competing at the level of full-time reporters from the get-go,” says Steven Tweedie, a deputy editor at Business Insider.
Tweedie says his intern was juggling photo features and original reporting, much of which involved interviewing founders and writing profiles, and all his work matched the level of writing of full-time reporters.
“He was a self-starter who didn’t wait for assignments to get working and was great at time-management,” Tweedies says. “And it paid off – we hired him two months into his internship.”