Five Qualities Hiring Managers Look For When Hiring Interns?

BY Dinisha Tellirajah |

Recently, I have had the privilege to interview an IT Manager at one of our Hosts Companies. When asked to rate the top qualities employers seek when hiring an intern, it was surprising to see how technical skills did not even make it to the top 3!  Though it is important to showcase technical skills in an interview, the interviewer told me that demonstrating excellent transferable skills are far more valuable.

Therefore, what are the top five qualities of an intern that every employer looks for when hiring? He responded:

1. Positive Attitude

Starting of as an intern, your tasks will not be the most glamorous or even fulfilling at times, hence having that positive attitude and eagerness to learn is key at that level. Showing your future employer your excitement in your part time job and being upbeat about your university projects, displays your optimistic attitude. You will likely carry that attitude into the business, which makes the work place a positive one and makes learning and development much easier.

2. Communication

Communication has a variety of perceptions, however what interests employers is the intern’s ability to speak about what they have on their resume, professionally. Interns have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of what they have studied in university through good communication. When ask to demonstrate soft skills, students should relate it to back to previous part time jobs or university studies to provide examples. This would be a massive advantage. It shows the intern’s capability to effectively think, communicate and convey ideas that are job requirements whether it is with a co-worker, supervisor or clients.

3. Initiative / Proactive

Graduates often believe that an internship as a platform to gain practical knowledge without putting in any self-initiative or being proactive. It is really important that they demonstrate pro-activeness and willingness to go the extra mile. Any employer would be delighted to have an employee that does not wait for instructions and instead takes that initiate to learn and demonstrate the ability to work without needing directions for every tasks.

4. Technical Skills

If graduates consider an internship a place where they learn technical skills, they are already starting their placement with the wrong foot. Interns are not expected to be technically expert in whatever industry they are in but they must be able to demonstrate what they have learnt in University. An internship is the best possible way to put your knowledge into practice, but you will have to refresh your skills and come prepared.

5. Adaptability / Team Work

Most fast-paced organisations, be it large or start-up, require employees to constantly think on their feet and embrace changes. Being an intern, you may find yourself doing different tasks apart from the duties listed on your job description. It forces you to learn and adapt to different parts of the organisation, which is extremely beneficial. It also shows the employer that you are willing to adapt to changes and work as a team when there is an opportunity.

With all the above in mind, never under estimate employers’/interviewers’ expectations when hiring an intern. Every characteristic you portray brings you a long way. Good luck!

"Success Occurs When Opportunity Meets Preparation" – Zig Ziglar


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