How to select the right interns for your company

How to select right interns for your company

About the Author: Harshad Bhagwat is a scientist-turned-edupreneur. He’s the founder of WordsMaya which helps adults improve Communication English through WhatsApp like chats.

A good team can make or break a startup. Capable team members are priceless (read very pricey!). You need not read ahead if you have enough money. However, for the startups I know (and also my own startup), a good team without money is a conundrum. Hiring an intern is the only solution I have found during my two-year entrepreneurial journey.

Enthusiastic and curious minds of 20-odd interns have shaped what WordsMaya is today. These interns have performed all the tasks possible like content development, graphic designing, web development, operations, sales and marketing, and have worked part-time/full-time and from home/in office. I’m proud to say that around 10 of them have been selected through Internshala. Three of them even joined us as full-time employees after completing their graduation.

This is the selection process I follow which I perfected along the way:
1. The intern-magnet post: A well-crafted internship post is the most important part of the online personality of your start-up. It attracts the right applicants. I make sure that the post gives clear answers to these questions: what’s the job profile, top three reasons to join, and what kind of applicants are suitable. The top three reasons to join which I personally include are – the big problem WordsMaya is solving, learning opportunities, and the creative nature of work. This always helps me sell the internship to the right interns.

2. Ask the right questions: Internshala allows you to ask the applicants a few questions while applying. I used this as the perfect first filter to reject inappropriate applicants. For example, an applicant who doesn’t write even a few lines while answering the questions shows low commitment. The best applicants convince me with their answers to the questions such as ‘why should you be hired’ or ‘why do you want to do this internship’. These questions give me a few pointers about the applicant’s perspective towards the internship and also what drives him-money, certificate, or the work itself. Most of them have nothing to show on their resumes. All they have is a raw talent, and their attitude is the key parameter during the initial selection. Their grades or college rarely turn the tide in their favour.

3. Test them thoroughly: On Internshala, you can shortlist a few applicants and even send a mail to them through the platform itself. I have always seen this working better than writing a mail from the company’s account. I employ a tough screening test to evaluate an applicant’s relevant skills, with a specific deadline. For example, I ask them to write some relevant content for a content writing role and ask them to prepare a marketing campaign for a well-known product if it’s a marketing role.

4. Observe their body language: Only 10% of the applicants make it to a telephonic or face-to-face interview. All I check in this is the basic intelligence, commitment, and sincerity. In a face-to-face interview, you can easily gauge when the applicant is lying. Once I selected an applicant just because I could clearly see the sincerity in his eyes. I tested him with additional tasks and he ended up out-performing others. I recently tried the ‘staring technique’ where my colleague was asking all the questions, and I just stared at the applicant throughout the interview. I could easily read their minds from their body language and the emotions in their eyes. I also encourage them to ask questions. Their choice of questions (or no questions at all) demonstrate how convinced they are about doing the work and what actually drives them.

5. The final test: I really value our interns and give them important work (not left-over work), and so I demand the most committed applicants. All the applicants who cleared the interview have to go through a 7-day  probation. The applicants have to spend 7 days in our office doing only a few tasks and reading relevant material. However, our team silently observes that person. I learn a lot about the applicant’s character from the body language, personality traits, and the overall presence in the office. For outstation applicants, it is about completing many tasks over a period of 7 days. I selected one applicant just because he came half an hour before our office time and waited for us every single day during the probation period.

Our selection procedure is very strict, and I am proud of it. It is lengthy but the best interns get through. Finally, all that matters in a start-up is a good team, and in our case – the intern-stellar team.

If you are looking to hire interns, please post your requirements here.

Image source: TechCrunch

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