People working in an office.

Having a great intern can be an asset to your team, but conversely, hiring an intern who may not be a fit can be more trouble than it’s worth. Hiring for an intern can be trickier than hiring for a full-time position, as interns typically come to the table with less experience, but here are a few questions you can ask to make sure you and your intern will both benefit from your time together.

1) Describe some of the courses you’re currently taking and how they relate to this position?

Whether it’s learning hard skills such as creating a marketing strategy or a soft skill like time management, all classes have a professional benefit. Asking candidates to articulate what knowledge they’ve gained from the various courses they’ve taken can give you a picture of where their strengths and interests lie.

2) Tell us about your extracurricular involvement. How has that prepared you for this internship?

Experiences like volunteering in the community, planning on-campus events, or participating in clubs or Greek life can be incredibly valuable in developing professional skills. Asking candidates to describe what they’ve learned and gained from these experiences can be a great way to determine what they’ll bring to a professional setting.

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3) What skills are you looking to gain from this internship?

While it’s important to discern whether or not this potential intern would be an asset to your organization, you also want to figure out whether the internship you’re offering is a good fit for them. Setting clear expectations can save you both heartache down the road.

4) What do you know about the field of social good?

Your candidate might not know all the nuances of their chosen field, but in this age of information, research can be done to learn the basics. Knowing some of the basic trends and practices of the field they’re hoping to intern in will go a long way in not only their career development but save you some time as the person who has to train them. A candidate who has done informational interviews regularly reads blogs about the social impact sector, or has a vested interest in the field will always be more engaged and productive than one who’s just trying to get experience anywhere.

5) Why are you interested in interning here?

Sometimes students just need an internship and aren’t really concerned with where they’ll work. — but the best interns are excited about your organization’s mission or the work they’ll get to do should they land the position. These interns tend to be more motivated to really bring their ideas to the table.


For more tips and actionable advice, check out the Idealist case study on internship programs and other resources for organizations.