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5 Intern Interview Questions for Small Businesses

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Internship season is fast approaching, making now a good time for business owners to start brainstorming potential intern interview questions.

Your interview questions should elicit responses that will give you a sense of a would-be intern's thought process, level of professionalism, and ability to perform under pressure. Such traits can help stave off interns who could expose the company to legal liability.

Here are five intern interview questions that may work for your business:

  1. Will you receive college credit? Beware using academic credit as a wage-and-hour loophole. Effectively functioning as a negative wage for the intern, college credit may be construed as the intern paying for the privilege of working, The New York Times reports. Always keep an internship genuinely educational!
  2. What are your stipend expectations? Business owners are being sued over unpaid internships, so speaking about compensation is a good idea. Identify the exact nature of any payment; otherwise it might resemble a wage.
  3. How do you feel about supervision? There are certain tasks your interns should not handle, including unsupervised decision-making. If the intern isn't comfortable with supervision, that's a problem.
  4. Do you have a car and a clean driving record? Don't ask this question if driving isn't part of the internship -- to do so would be unlawful. But if driving is necessary to do the job, make sure your prospective intern has a car and a clean driving record. The unpaid intern is an extension of the company, so your company could be held vicariously liable for an intern's car wreck.
  5. What's your best clean joke? Candidates who can't recall a clean joke or who struggle with delivery might have difficulty thinking on their feet. Focus on the reaction, not on the actual joke. From a legal standpoint, a candidate who can deal with the unexpected is less likely to drop the legal ball, thereby sparing you of vicarious liability concerns.

Finally, it may be wise to ask every intern candidate to walk you through his or her resume. College and high-school interns often have minimal experience and almost no track record, so slight embellishments are to be expected. But you'll want to weed out those who take resume padding to a dishonest level.

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