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1. How does interviewing for intern positions differ from interviewing for permanent, professional, experienced positions?

2. Since the candidates all have english as their sencond language, should I have a native speaker interview them for me?

I've been given the task to interview and have an intern reporting to me. This is my first time in a management role in awhile. I am a younger individual contributor. I am concerned that all the advice out there deals primarily with hiring experienced professionals.

Just as if that wasn't easy enough, the candidates I am interviewing travel from Europe to the US for theirn internship. English is their 2nd language. I can have a 2nd person do the interview with me (my boss) who is a native speaker of the intern's first language.  On one hand, I'd like them to be as comfortable as possible. This would mean they interview with my boss. On the other hand, I would like to interview the candidates myself. Thoughts on this topic too are welcome.

jskehan's picture

I am making some assumptions, but I think you need to interview in the primary language of the working team. 

 1. How does interviewing for intern positions differ from interviewing for permanent, professional, experienced positions?

I have found that for interns this is where having a set of questions that are canned that you have asked everyone is very beneficial.  My experience is usually that they are lacking in confidence and crispness.  If you know the content of the interview front and back it will be much easier for you to rephrase, ask again, and/or redirect towards your next question.  You should be prepared to be some poor soul's first real interview.

2. Since the candidates all have english as their sencond language, should I have a native speaker interview them for me?

If the Interns will be working in the US, I think the entire interview minus perhaps, your best attempt at the welcome and close in the second language.  While they might be more comfortable in their native language, they must be able to communicate in the prevalent language at work.  I would recommend listening to your own vocabulary and pace of speaking over the next days/weeks.  You are trying to communicate and judge fit for the role.  Having worked in teams with 10%-20% native English speakers, slowing down a bit when you are getting excited and tossing out your Thesaurus for 30 minutes will likely get you much better results.

 

STEVENM's picture

It's good to want to make people comfortable, but I think that a big part of the point of the interview will be to make sure they can communicate effectively.  If they have to interact with US resident they need to be able to get by without constant help regarding the language.  And it's a learning opportunity for them and you.  Go for it solo.  Maybe let them know it's your first time interviewing so they feel less uncomfortable with things and can relate to you better.  But definitely use the opportunity to do it yourself if you can.

Interviewing interns will be different because they likely have less experience to share, and are less familiar with how things work.  That's part of the beauty of behavioral questions though, they don't need to have the experience in a work environment.  You're out to find how they handle situations rather than how long they did data entry or whatever else at their last job.  They may have situations they can speak about from school, a part time job, personal life, or something else entirely. As far as structuring an interview, what to look out for, the need to dig and pull information from the person you're talking to, that should all be about the same.  If I had to offer up a caution, I'd say "Don't throw softballs the whole time."  The temptation might be there.

mkirk's picture

 Hi,

It's your hire = your decision, not the boss's. Well done for doing the preparatory work, use the interview creation tool and the good advice you've already got, but don't stress about the language. You need to gather information (previous actions and results = future performance), so do it in your language and allow some latitude for the language barrier. But set the bar high, enjoy it and get someone great, even if it takes a long time.

My first time, I didn't do any of this and I regretted the hire for, oh, about the last 14 years......

Good luck

MK

dmb41carter36's picture

Wow, thanks for the quick advice. I'm blown away that people like you guys would be willing to share your thoughts with me so quickly.

The more I think this through, I wonder if I should use Skype or just telephone.Thoughts?

On one hand, telephone allows the candidate to have some prepared material in front of them. Helping them paint the most accurate possible picture.One the other hand, Skype allows one to see the body language and quick thinking skills.

If this were an experienced professional position, I would definately use Skype. I am torn since I want to get the most accurate picture of the potential intern.

STEVENM's picture

"If this were an experienced professional position, I would definately use Skype."

I think that answers the question for me.  You don't have to be extremely critical of slip ups, so you'll do them a service (not just the person you pick) if you treat it exactly like an experienced professional interview.  Even if they don't get the internship they'll have gained experience in exactly what they'll face later.

mkirk's picture

I agree with this guidance from the MT Team and would suggest that you should continue the good start and try to get face to face if possible. If that's really not an option, then whichever medium gives you the most information to make your decision.