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Hiring Students for the Summer? Here are 5 interview questions you should be asking.

Jacqueline Cruz

March 23, 2021

As your tech business continues to grow, you might find yourself looking for an extra set of hands to support your team. From data management to UX design, today’s students are well-positioned to help you meet your business objectives.

In this article: 

  • 5 interview questions you should be asking to find the right candidate
  • 3 important things to keep in mind when hiring a student, and;
  • How to connect with student talent and funding

 

5 interview questions you should be asking

With a myriad of student talent available, your first challenge is identifying which candidate is the right fit for your company and the job. While a good resume outlines a candidate’s qualifications for a position, an interview will allow you to understand more about your student applicant and the value they can add to your team. Here are the 5 interview questions you should be asking to find the perfect candidate and what to look for in their answers: 

Q: “What are you working on right now?”

Often, resumes focus on past experiences that might not reflect where an applicant is currently positioned in their unique career journey. With COVID-19 impacting traditional internship opportunities and education, it is important to allow your applicant to reflect on their current priorities and articulate what they can bring to the table. 

What to look for in an answer: Look for answers that showcase growth, current values, projects, and interests to help you gain a better understanding of how your applicant has been able to adapt to changing circumstances. 

Q: “What is one goal you’ve achieved that you’re proud of?” 

Whether it be personal, academic, or work-related, this question will help you learn more about how your applicant sets themselves up for success. It can also indicate the kind of projects they are passionate about and allow you to understand how to best delegate tasks that peak their interest. 

What to look for in an answer: Look for responses that indicate process. Why did they choose this goal, how important was it for them to achieve it, and what actions did they implement to reach it? 

Q: “Tell me about your career trajectory and how this position might help you?”

While the first question will give you insight into who your applicant is, this question addresses who they want to become. You want to know if your applicant is actually interested in developing a career in this specific field or if they’re applying to this position to fill a placement. How does this role help them achieve their long-term goals? 

What to look for in an answer: Look for responses that indicate they have spent time thinking about the role, the team, and the company. Does this person show a genuine interest in growing the skills needed to be successful in your field of work?

Q: Would you feel comfortable working with ______ equipment/ what is your experience working with ________? 

For tech start-ups and companies that have hands-on components, you need to know how familiar a student is working with tools, equipment, and protocols. 

What to look for in an answer: Student experiences vary from person to person. For questions that gauge how comfortable a student is doing a particular task or working with particular tools, it’s important to look for two things: 1— whether or not any of their past experiences can be translated into this situation, and; 2— their ability to be taught on the job.  

Q: “How do you approach learning something new?” 

Keep in mind that some students often do not have the same level of experience as other applicants. This question will give you a better understanding of how they navigate unfamiliar territory, which will happen frequently at the beginning of their career. 

What to look for in an answer:Look for applicants that demonstrate their determination and resourcefulness, but can identify where they need help. Some things are easy to learn on the job while others require more guidance. 

 

 

3 important things to keep in mind when hiring a student

Students make up a unique segment of the workforce, all with varying levels of experience in a professional setting. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when preparing to hire student talent: 

Remove application barriers

While many undergraduates are keen to gain valuable work experience, some student-targeted job listings include unintended application barriers like requiring years of prior experience for an entry-level position, or listing niche skills that will rarely be used in their role. 

Tip: When creating a job listing for student applicants, separate need-to-have qualifications and nice-to-have qualifications. This way, you can prioritize the skills that will be used immediately without deterring hesitant but qualified candidates. 

The interview process goes both ways

Don’t forget that the interview process is a two-way street. While you have qualities you’re looking for in a student candidate, students also have qualities they look for in an employer. 

Tip: Create a welcoming environment so that candidates are encouraged to try their best. This Harvard Business Review article states that successful interviewers establish a genuine rapport with their applicants to reduce communication barriers. 

Get curious about relevant experiences 

This might be your student applicant’s first experience interviewing for a “traditional job”.  

Tip: Allow student applicants to answer questions related to previous work experience or school experience. Even if there isn’t a strong connection to your tech field, hearing about their work ethic and other qualities can help you make your hiring decision. 

 

Interested in getting involved with our next Seneca and TECHNATION event? Contact Stephanie Bagnarol, Partnerships Coordinator at sbagnarol@venturelab.ca for more information.

 

 

About Seneca College 

Seneca is taking on the great challenges of our time – rebuilding the economy, equity and sustainability – while navigating through the pandemic safely. We’re delivering great polytechnic education that combines rigorous academics with practical training. From health care to technology, business to creative arts, community services to arts and sciences, we help students get ready to make their mark in the world. We’re #Senecaproud of our expert faculty, excellent staff and outstanding facilities. We have deep connections with industry and offer thousands of co-op and work placements to get our graduates job-ready. Full-time or part-time, in-person or online, students choose the option that suits them. Learn more: senecacollege.ca  

 

About TechNation 

TECHNATION is the industry-government nexus for technology prosperity in Canada. As a member-driven, not-for-profit, TECHNATION unites Canada’s technology sector, governments and communities to enable technology prosperity in Canada. TECHNATION champions technology prosperity by providing advocacy, professional development and networking opportunities across industry and governments at all levels; connecting Canadian scale-ups with global tech leaders; engaging the global supply chain; and filling the technology talent pipeline. TECHNATION has served as the authoritative national voice of the $210 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 43,200 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates more than 666,500 jobs and invests $7.5 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer. For more information: www.technationcanada.ca

 

About ventureLAB 

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise over $120 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets. 

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