Date posted: 24/05/2018

How internships can help you choose the best candidate for the job

According to a recent Anglicare Jobs survey1, there are almost five jobseekers for every entry-level position in Australia. While this should give employers the pick of the litter, it can also mean you're likely to be overwhelmed with applications.

Some applicants can look perfect on paper but not quite click in-person, while others whose applications aren't all that might just be your perfect candidate. So how do you truly know who out of those hypothetical five job seekers interested in your job opening fits your selection criteria to a tee?

Internships present an effective method of assessing candidates within the specific context of your organisation's day-to-day operations, expectations, and workplace culture.

The value of internships for employers is not as commonly highlighted as it is for students. The benefits are threefold - helping you find an employee who's the perfect fit, offering a wealth of work experience to the candidate and providing your staff with the professional development opportunity of mentoring potential future leaders.

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Hosting an internship program can help you avoid the stumbling block of dedicating time and resources to training a new staff member only to discover that they clash with your leadership style or don't adhere to company values. Better still, if they are the perfect fit you have the opportunity to test their potential and provide constructive feedback before signing on the dotted line.

Giving interns the opportunity to engage with as many different teams within your organisation as possible can be a great way to discover their strengths or talents that may not have been immediately obvious. Discover the unique value they alone can bring to your organisation - those all-important hidden gems not documented in their job application or noticed at the interview stage.

Empowering interns to work with team members at different levels and areas of the business can also help to build on their existing communication skills, as well as develop the technical skills that are desired in their chosen sector.

An internship is a partnership. A motivated intern will learn the unique nuances of your organisation and represent your organisation's values. In turn, a good employer will help the intern develop skills that will place them in good stead as they advance in their career and be open to new perspectives.

There is also great value in discussing with staff members how the experience played out and receive feedback on what the intern did well and what could be improved upon. This will aid in determining whether there are any employment opportunities for which the intern would be well-suited and creating a pipeline of talent to draw from when it's the next time to recruit.

Furthermore, internships often have a positive impact on employee retention; according to NACE's 2009 Experiential Education Survey2, almost 40 per cent of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees they'd hired via their internship programs.

The Chartered Accountants ANZ Achiever Programme is a great example of an initiative that promotes the recruitment of students by matching employers with well-suited candidates for an internship placement.

The majority of employers who participate in the Achiever Programme recruit 1-2 candidates, and the average placement period is 7.5 weeks. Approx. 63% of host employers then go on to provide at least one of their candidates with a graduate role or full-time, part-time or casual position.

Learn more from the following Achiever Programme success stories