Focus on Internships Part 2: The Waiting Game

This is the second newsletter in a series on internships

Interviews conducted Рcheck! Offers extended Рcheck!  All relevant information about the job communicated Рcheck! Now the tables have turned and the waiting game begins. No longer are the candidates trying to impress you. Now you are trying to woo the candidates to accept your offer.

While we have all probably encountered the over-zealous student who accepts their offer on the spot, this is not always the norm. Students often want some time before making a decision. In many cases, schools mandate offers remain open until a certain date to allow students time to finish interviewing with other companies, consider all their options, and talk with career services, advisors, friends, and family to help them decide which opportunity is best for them.

So aside from reverting to voodoo and black magic, how can you increase the odds of students accepting your offer over other offers that may include office foosball tables and free lunch every day? Okay, we admit, it’s hard to compete with free lunch. However, you have worked really hard up until this point, so don’t leave things to chance now. Below are a few suggestions on how to put your best foot forward to help increase your acceptance rate and close your top candidates.

Helpful hints for closing candidates:

  • Closing Teams: Assigning a closing team to each offeree is a great way to stay in contact with a candidate and gather important intel about major decision factors the student may be considering. We recommend assigning a two person team to each candidate: one senior-level employee to offer-up the “wow” factor, and one junior-level person (ideally within two years of graduation) who recently went through a similar decision making process. When assigning closing teams, look for things in common between the candidate and the closing team members (i.e. same school, played the same sport, club affiliations, professional interests) to help break the ice.
  • Gather Candidate Intel: Leveraging your closing teams (see above) and other interactions with offerees, gather as much information about competing offers and other decision factors important to the student. For example, the type of work each position offers, compensation, geography, other attributes of the intern program, likelihood to lead to full-time employment, etc. The more you know, the more you can try to sell them on your offer. If you are unable to answer a student’s question, find someone in the company who can and make an introduction.
  • Employ Program Ambassadors: Former interns are a great recruiting tool. Recruiters can talk until we are blue in the face but when one student tells another student about the great experience they had working at your company; all of a sudden it resonates. Don’t be afraid to ask former interns to touch base with classmates and offer to answer questions and share their experience. Hint: if you do this, it’s nice to offer up a small token of appreciation to these program ambassadors.
  • Offer Gifts: By this point in time, students have so many water bottles, t-shirts, pens, and other tchotchkes emblazoned with company logos, the thought of sending more may be a real turn-off. However, if you have “bigger, nicer” gifts that you reserve for top candidates, this is the time to put those to use. Consider something like a signed copy of a book authored by a person at your company or a goody box of things from the city where your company is located. Or when all else fails, send cookies with a nice note congratulating the student on their offer.
  • Office Visits/Sell Event: Expectations for the amount of wooing required to close a candidate can vary greatly between industries. The norm for one industry may not even be a factor for students considering opportunities in another industry. For example, it’s not unusual for students pursuing opportunities with banks, large consulting firms, and law firms to be invited to events where they are “wined and dined” by company executives and participate in programs designed to convince them to accept one offer over another (we won’t even mention the ski weekends and trips to tropical locations). However, these types of events may not be the norm for students who want to work at smaller companies or in other industries such as technology, engineering, communications, and marketing. Planning a dinner for all of your offerees to meet each other and members of your leadership team, or inviting them to your office for a half-day of programming may be a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Incentivizing Early Accepts: Incentivizing students to accept sooner rather than later (i.e. exploding offers and diminishing signing bonuses) can be a touchy subject. Some schools have strict policies against it. Our advice is to do your due diligence and be aware that some companies employ this tactic.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful; good luck getting that acceptance rate up!

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