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Use Internships to Find Great Candidates

The hiring process can be expensive and risky; there’s little disagreement on this point. No matter which approach you choose or which strategy you prefer, taking on new candidates will never be a sure bet. Sometimes a terrific interview can conceal serious problems and misalignments between employer and employee, and sometimes even a perfect candidate can switch course and leave within a year, which can send your hiring team back to square one…after an expensive round of onboarding and training. You do what you can to mitigate the risk, including tightening your interviews, sharpening your screening process, and finding ways to identify red flags and positive traits. But this may be a great time to implement another selection process that can help you identify and recruit the most talented candidates in your applicant pool: paid internships. Before you start your program, keep these considerations in mind.

Start Now

The most useful internships (for you and for your employees) will usually happen in the summer. You can consider making accommodations for especially qualified candidates who are available during other seasons, but all else being equal, plan for a summer program. Top candidates will be graduating and launching their careers during this time, and a summer program will mesh well with their long term plans. This January and February will be the perfect time to start publishing your posts and sourcing your candidates.

Establish a Budget

You’ll need to pay your interns a wage that’s not only livable, but competitive. If you think you’re “saving” money by underpaying your interns, think again. This move (like any move that disrespects employees and devalues their time) will result in adverse selection. You’ll attract desperate candidates who have no other options and you’ll alienate the talented, ambitious types who will simply look elsewhere for opportunity… In the meantime, your workplace reputation will suffer.

Plan Your Program Carefully

Of course your interns will have little to no experience, so they won’t contribute much to your organization…at first. But if you provide appropriate exposure and learning opportunities, both of you will benefit. You’ll have a chance to observe your candidate in a workplace setting, which will help you mitigate risk and make an informed selection decision later on. And your candidate will have a chance to determine if the workplace feels like a match. To make this happen, you’ll need to think ahead. Plan the summer carefully and make sure your intern has meaningful projects to complete and experienced employees to shadow and support.

For more on how to create and execute an internship program that can help you find great long-term candidates, contact the staffing team at Cordia.