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How Companies Assess the Skills and Suitability of Interns

Interns sometimes lose sight of the fact that an internship is not solely about their interests and what benefits them. Let’s face it, the host company should also get something out of the relationship.


Assessing the skills and suitability of an intern is a crucial process for companies seeking to identify and nurture talented individuals who can contribute to their organization. While internships serve as valuable learning experiences for students, they also provide companies with an opportunity to evaluate the intern’s abilities, potential, and cultural fit within the organization.


Companies typically assess an interns' skills and suitability using a number of different criteria. The very first test is of course the application and screening process. Companies often start by reviewing internship applications and resumes to assess the intern’s qualifications, educational background, and relevant experiences. They may use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes based on specific criteria such as academic performance, the major subject studied, and extracurricular activities. If you want to secure that internship, it is vital to spend making sure your resume is as good as it can be.


If your resume gets picked up, the next step is the interview. Shortlisted candidates are typically invited for interviews, which may include one or more rounds with hiring managers, team members, or HR representatives. Interviews allow companies to assess the interns’ communication skills, professionalism, and enthusiasm for the role. They may ask you behavioural questions, questions about case studies, or technical questions related to the internship position itself.


Once you get past the interview and have secured the internship position, the assessment really begins, and this usually begins with skills assessment. Depending on the nature of the internship role, companies may conduct skills assessments or tests to evaluate intern’s technical proficiency and capabilities. This could involve coding challenges, writing samples, design tasks, or other assessments relevant to the internship position. Skills assessments help companies gauge interns’ ability to perform tasks required for the internship role.


While working in the role, the intern is likely to be given what we call behavioural assessment on an ongoing basis and in a variety of situations. In addition to an intern’s technical skills, companies are also likely to assess their behavioural competencies and soft skills. This includes teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability. These skills are essential for success in the workplace and are often evaluated through behavioural interviews, situational judgment tests, or personality assessments.


People tend to hire people they like and would feel comfortable working alongside. This is really what we call the cultural fit: Companies consider whether candidates align with the organization's values, mission, and work culture. Cultural fit is likely to be assessed through interactions during interviews, observations of behaviour and attitudes, and feedback from colleagues. Employers seek interns who demonstrate a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and ability to collaborate effectively with others.

The fact that companies use so many criteria to assess an interns' skills and suitability should not come as a shock. This is the reality of working in an environment which is professional and demanding. For interns, knowing and understanding exactly how they are being measured and assessed is a key part of the internship experience.





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