How To Hire An Intern: Writing The Perfect Job Description

If you want to lure extraordinary people in the direction of your company, the copy in your job description needs to be as enticing as a Boston creme doughnut after a week of gastroenteritis-induced fasting. Fortunately, that’s as easy as 1, 2… 7.

In the spirit of Monday magnanimity, we’re doling out more secrets on how to hire an intern. This time on writing a decent job ad. Yay! Mondays!

The key here is to strike a balance between core facts and detail. The skills required, the work expected and the opportunities presented need to be clear, but you want to make sure your branding and tone is present throughout (after all, there’s no point in writing a description of you that doesn’t sound like you). That said, as a rule of thumb, it needs to be punchy. It needs to zip. It needs to zing. And it needs to ooze a frankly indecent amount of charisma.

 how to hire interns

1. Job Title

The job title should be a dalliance between informative and interesting. Include straight-up keywords pertaining to function and industry, as well as an indication of the level of work they will be assuming (intern, junior, executive, training programme, etc). Be creative, if that’s what floats your boat; there is a trend for those in the tech startup arena to advertise for “Ninja This”, “Rockstar That”, “Maverick The Other” – which, while lending an undeniable element of personality, may have the unintended effect of deterring candidates of the fairer sex. Whiff of a discrimination lawsuit, anyone? Tread with care.

2. Opening Gambit

Before you launch into the details of the role and the desired attributes in your candidate, aim to provide a snappy introduction to your company and the role you’re trying to fill. Bear in mind that this is the metaphorical handshake; make the person want to smile like a loon and engage with you.

3. Role and Responsibilities

An entrepreneurial candidate will be looking for a mix of responsibilities and learning opportunities, so bear that in mind when writing the ins and out of the role. What will you be able to teach your intern? How can they add value to your company? What will you expect of them, and how will they deliver it? Be as specific as possible; day-to-day tasks, client projects, and events that you want to get them involved with, and how these things in sum will further the person’s career development. The tighter the brief, the easier it is to understand.

4. Desired Qualifications

This is where you can list your preferred academic achievements (if you have any) or any computer programs you’d prefer/need your intern to be proficient in. Bear in mind that a lot of talented people may be inexperienced. Are any of these skills they can learn whilst with you?

5. Terms of Employment

This is where you come to the cold hard facts of the opportunity – duration of the internship, the hours the intern is expected to work, the location and the salary. For more information about the legal nitty gritty surrounding the payment of interns, see here, and take jolly good heed. Basically: if you pay your intern as you would a member of staff, you can expect more of them – deadlines, punctuality, warts ‘n’ all. Hooray!

6. Development Opportunities

Is there a chance for this internship to develop into a permanent position? Be upfront about this. A lack of opportunity for further progression within the company won’t necessarily put candidates off, particularly those students looking for a short-term summer opportunity, as long as the role is genuinely interesting and there are tangible opportunities for personal development.

7. Filter Question

If Enternships is your advertising platform of choice, you’ll have the opportunity to ask a filter question of everyone who applies to you. This can be anything from ‘What does success look like to you?’ to ‘Why do you give two hoots about our company?’ or, veering towards the more nebulous, ‘Tell us your favourite joke’ and ‘Who’d win in a fight – Batman or The Flash?’. Up to you. Just make sure it’s relevant (sense of humour and on-the-feet-thinking are surely right up there, no?) and gives applicants a chance to express themselves.

Anything else?

This one doesn’t even warrant a number, cos it’s so bleedin’ obvious. Once you’re happy with your job description, PROOFREAD IT. And then proofread again. And then once more for good luck. Or – if you’re solid in the knowledge that you can’t possibly have made a mistake – ask someone else to do it, so that you have the chance to get rejuvenatingly mad at them when they prove you wrong.


Want more juice? PART ONE – How to hire an intern: nailing your company profile

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