Hiring college students part-time to help you get the job done is a wise decision. Just click any other post in this blog to understand the many reasons why! As you’re preparing to post a job and sift through resumes or e-portfolios, it’s important to consider the interview. You may be already practiced at interviewing college seniors for full-time jobs or more experienced candidates for part-time jobs. Even so, it’s likely that you’ll find interviewing college students for short-term projects has slightly different guidelines that you should follow.
Interviewing college students for part-time employment: what you need to know
Make your expectations clear before you meet
You have to remember that students are less practiced at the job-application process than other people you interview. You can probably bet that many college seniors have already looked ahead, spending time in the career center and polishing their resumes. But since your post is open to all students, regardless of class year, you may get a few great candidates who have less knowledge of what they are supposed to wear, bring, or prepare.
Many recruiters find success in keeping it casual. But if you know that you want to see a paper resume, say so! The candidates might not realize they need to bring one, and you shouldn’t treat it as some sort of test to see how prepared they are. The same goes for having writing samples or references ready, or even letting them know that they should come with questions for you as well. Help them help you!
Know what supplementary questions you need to ask
Let’s skip the questions that you’d ask to any potential employee, no matter their experience level. There are obviously certain things that you need to know in order to understand whether the candidate will do the job well, and those can differ for every position that needs filling. Instead, we’re going to focus on the questions that pertain specifically to college students working part time. These include:
What is your availability?
Students are already juggling classwork and extracurricular activities. Thus it’s important to understand whether they could meet your expectations regarding deadlines and how frequently you’d like them to check in with you. Taking the initiative to enroll in extra classes or balance three or four extracurriculars, including athletics, could look great on a resume for someone who’s gunning for a full-time job. But it might also mean they can’t handle your workload on top of their own (keyword: might). So make sure you discuss exactly what you need from them with respect to time requirements.
What about this project is interesting to you?
This question is a great way to strike up a conversation about what the student wants to do after graduation. While this seems like something that might not interest you if you’re just looking to get a job done quickly, think again. One of the perks of hiring students part time is the possibility to shrink your recruiting budget by “test-driving” a student before he or she graduates to see if there might be a great fit for your business.
Many, if not most, college students are still figuring what they want to do for a career, so rather than ask “Why do you want to work in marketing?” ask “What about this project is interesting to you?” or “What drew you to this post?” If the answer is simply a chance to make money, there you have it. But it’s possible you’ll find someone who really wants the chance to work with a startup or find a way to enter your industry, just to name a few examples.
What experience do you have that you feel is relevant?
Say you’re looking for someone to help you build and maintain the right audience on social media. Your candidates may not know anything about your industry, your buyer personas, or your competition, but chances are they probably have a lot of personal experience maintaining their own “brand” on social media. They know efficient ways to seek out other people with whom they’d like to have a social relationship. They know which platforms work best for which types of posts. They know how to collect data that shows you the most optimal time of day and week to post these types of posts. And they probably will have a lot of input as to the efficacy of your current campaigns to reach the people you want.
Little of this, however, would come through on a traditional resume. So make sure you’re incorporating personal experience into the interview and accepting it. College students are part of a generation of digital natives who understand the ins and outs of digital photography, app building, site design, and social promotion more than any others. Take advantage of it!
The easiest way to connect with these digital natives is on a digital platform. Post your positions on a platform that answers a lot of these questions for you and helps your candidates come prepared. HireOwl provides you not only with these tools, but also with built-in perks such as video profiles, references, e-portfolios, and in-app messaging. Sign up for free today and see for yourself!