Finding The Right Intern Starts With The Right Questions

Finding The Right Intern Starts With The Right Questions

Have you interviewed an intern before?

And are you thinking about having an intern? Because that’s maybe a better question.

It’s hard to believe, but most interns are actually looking for an internship in a couple of months, thinking already about next summer (Summer 2022). I know, right?

It’s hard to believe and it’s hard to think that, I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time thinking about what’s happening next week, let alone next summer.

But interns are already thinking that. Now is the time to start thinking about what kinds of things should you be looking for in an intern and what could an intern help you with.

How do you hire an intern and how do you do interviews?

Especially when somebody doesn’t have the professional experience that other hires before in the past have.

A really important thing to ask interns when you are interviewing them or even Gen Z, for that matter, or someone who’s fresh out of school, is: asking situational-based questions.

These are questions like, tell me about a time when you dealt with difficult clients?
You were challenged in a way that you didn’t expect?
Tell me about a time that you failed?

These questions allow your candidate to think beyond just a previous job. Sometimes people are going to come to you to do internships and they maybe have worked at a pool. They’ve worked at a restaurant. They’ve babysat.

Or maybe they haven’t had a formal job before but they’ve spent a lot of time on teams with sports teams and having to prepare for traveling on top of being a team member, which that in and of itself is not a small thing.

Situational-based questions will allow you to learn more about the candidate, but without just focusing on previous job experience.

It can tell you more about their decision-making skills.

You can get a sense of how they handle conflict, how they make decisions, how they process information, all those things are going to help you determine who’s the best candidate to hire.

You can also ask questions that are completely un-work related. Like, what is your superhero power if you could have one?

If you were an animal, what would your spirit animal be?
How many ping pong balls could you fit into a 747? (You’re not looking for an exact answer. And if you ask that question, you should make sure to tell them that!)

But again, you’re looking more at their problem solving skills and how do they tackle a really big problem. These are questions they might not be prepared to answer. And so you might get more of an authentic response, whereas other questions it might have rehearsed and prepared answers…OR, they know that there’s a professional version of what they should say and maybe the true version of them.

One of my favorite questions I was once asked in an interview was if you could be any song, what would it be? Or if any song could capture your essence, what would it be and why? And that’s a really fun question to ask and to answer.


As you are hiring interns, you want to make sure that the person is going to fit in with your team and with your workplace culture. You want someone bringing new or different or interesting, or just a different perspective to your group and that’s really important.
Sometimes you can’t get to that unless you start asking some of those more open-ended non-traditional interview questions.

All right. Times are weird.

Remember to take care of yourself and other people, and take a deep breath.

We’re going to get through it.

Keep rocking, and I look forward to seeing you back here soon!

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