Should Employers Conduct Second Interviews When Hiring Interns?

Most employers and HR representatives wouldn't think of hiring a permanent employee without (at least) a second interview. But when it comes to conducting intern interviews, some feel one meeting is sufficient. After all, they believe, It's only an internship; they're not likely to be here long term.

Or are they?

The truth is that if your organization is utilizing its internship program properly, the time someone spends as an intern is an excellent opportunity to evaluate his or her potential as a future fulltime employee. And, given all the benefits that today's interns bring to the workplace, why wouldn't you want to hire the best intern possible?

One of the simplest methods for improving your interview process is to take the time to conduct a second interview; when doing so, call back not only the candidates you are seriously considering, but also any qualified candidates receiving conflicting reviews from different interviewers.

Top reasons to conduct second interviews when hiring interns:

  • As newbie interviewees, interns are especially prone to nerves. A second interview can give some candidates a chance to come out of their shells, and give interviewers a more accurate portrayal of their personalities.

  • A second interview gives you a more consistent picture of a person, intern or otherwise. Similar to a second date, it enables you to confirm or contest your initial reactions.

  • An interviewer can only ask so many questions in one interview without completely overwhelming a candidate (especially an intern). A second interview gives you the chance to cover more ground and probe more deeply on important issues.

  • On the other hand, a second interview allows you to ask some of the same questions, in a slightly different manner, to see if you receive a consistent response. Candidates who are fibbing or exaggerating experience don't often keep track of exactly what they tell each interviewer.

  • A second interview means the intern candidate can meet more staff members. This balances out personal biases and takes in more points of view. Also, many times one interviewer will catch something others may have missed.

If after a second interview your team is still unsure about which intern is the best fit, consider setting up a third interview. At that point, however, you'll have to make a decision: Calling an intern in for more than three interviews will likely make your organization look indecisive.