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HR interns: Where to find ’em, how to use ’em

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Large organizations have long realized that HR interns contribute to the bottom line. They’re inexpensive, productive and eager to impress.

Now, with budgets cut to the bone, HR departments can use all the talented, low-cost staffing they can get. That’s especially true for small and midsize HR departments.

Don't waste your resources on overpriced, mediocre workers! Hire the Best: 29 'Must Ask' Interview Questions

Here are the best ways to find HR interns and use them for maximum productivity.

Location, location

1. Contact state and regional college chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Many allow organizations to post internship openings on their web sites. Some SHRM chapters maintain databases of companies that provide internships. Find a local chapter at

Student SHRM chapter web sites often provide phone numbers of faculty advisors and student officers to call for information about internships. Faculty advisors are an excellent source of good intern candidates. Find student chapters at

2. Post internships on SHRM’s web site at no cost by contacting the organization’s student programs department at

3. Become a student mentor. You can get a line on interns by serving as an HR student mentor. Colleges are always in need of volunteers. 

You can improve your hiring odds dramatically with a proven list of interview questions that help you zero in on the “must hires” and steer clear of the rest. Learn More!

Productivity, not busy work

1. Assign meaningful duties that relieve the workloads of HR staff. A review of online descriptions of HR internship openings shows that many organizations assign substantial duties using two basic approaches: Some employers rotate interns through different HR functions, while others allow students to specialize in one area.

For example, one midsize organization recruits interns to assist with recruiting duties for entry-level employees. The interns identify potential candidates through online databases and screen them through phone calls. They schedule interviews and create and update information packets for new hires. They also assist with orientations.

Other organizations rotate interns among several duties, including market research for comp and benefits, employee surveys, benefits enrollment, reference checks, writing job descriptions, updating policy and procedure manuals, and assistance with special projects. 

2. Set specific qualifications for interns that match your organization’s needs. Some employers require at least one to three years in an undergraduate HR program, while others want only HR graduate students. Some hire only interns who’ve had previous internships. Other organizations require specific class rankings, such as upper half.

3. Require interns to be organized and detail-oriented. They should also be able to communicate with employees at all levels and work well independently and with a team. It’s best if they’re familiar with your organization’s software and operating systems. 

Hiring guru and renowned author Paul Falcone walks you through his proven interview technique for finding out:
  • Which candidates are most compatible with your organization’s culture
  • Why they really left past positions
  • Their willingness to work beyond the basic job description
  • Whether the work pace and reporting structure they prefer matches yours
  • Their ability to accept constructive criticism
  • And more!
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