At Ross Group, we use an innovative approach to intern interviews. Instead of having one potential intern come in to interview with one project team, we do a little thing we like to call “Intern Speed Dating.” We caught back up with Brittanie White and Sarah Stisser from our HR department to find out exactly what this method involves.
What is “Intern Speed Dating”?
We start intern recruitment by attending career fairs at colleges and universities. While we’re there, we talk to and conduct brief interviews with students who we think would be good candidates for an internship. Then, we select the top three or four candidates from each school who will come to in-person interviews at our office. This is where the “speed dating” comes in. We select one day and schedule all the potential interns and all our project teams to come into the office at the same time. Each potential intern is set up in their own conference room and our project teams rotate around, having a 20-minute interview with each candidate. After everyone has a chance to meet and finish their interviews, we cater in lunch and all the interns and project teams eat together. This provides a casual setting where both groups can ask questions that aren’t interview or job related to see if they would be a good fit with a specific team based on personality.
How does Ross Group’s approach to intern interviews differ from other companies?
The main difference between our intern interview approach and that of other companies is that we bring everyone in at one time. This gives the candidates the opportunity to meet all of the project teams and vice versa. Another difference is that not only do the project teams rate the potential interns, the interns also rate the project teams and select the top teams they would like to work with. We match our interns to teams based on these ratings, so that everyone is happy with their placements.
How/why did you come up with this innovative approach?
We came up with this interview method as a way to be more efficient and save everyone time. For our project teams, this is important because it only takes them away from their active jobs for one day, instead of a day for each potential intern. For the intern candidates, it’s helpful because they don’t have to come into the office multiple times to meet different project teams, potentially travelling from a long distance for a short interview.
Another reason we developed this process was to allow us to select interns early in the school year. Having a single interview day lets us bring the potential interns in as quickly as possible after the fall career fairs. Most students are offered and accept internships in the fall semester. Our efficient method of interviewing results in the project teams making their selections faster and internship offers going out early before the most qualified students have already made another choice.
Has it been effective? How so?
Yes! This method has been so effective that we typically lock down 80% of our interns before they get offers from other companies.
It’s easier to compare potential interns when they are all in the office at the same time. It also makes it easier to remember everyone and their unique traits. Unlike with traditional interviews, our “speed dating” approach gives us the chance to learn each candidate’s personality and how they respond to different teams and peers.
Another reason we think it has been so effective is that construction is a naturally competitive industry. Seeing the competition when they come in brings out a competitive side in most potential interns because they want to prove they are the best choice.
What has been the response from potential interns?
The overwhelming response from potential interns has been positive. Initially, they are a little overwhelmed by the process and how everything is happening at the same time. But, this doesn’t last long and they end up enjoying meeting everyone and having lunch as a large group. They feel like it gives them a better look into our company as a whole and how they would fit into the company culture.
We’ve also heard from interns who were selected that they appreciated not having to prepare for multiple interviews. Instead, they prepare once and get the stressful part over with in one shot. Additionally, our previous interns have told other students how much they like our interview process and those new students seek us out at career fairs specifically because of this recommendation.
It’s important to stay creative and come up with more efficient and interesting ways to conduct activities, especially when recruiting younger generations of workers to our industry. Innovation is a hallmark of Ross Group’s recruiting practices and we use it to adapt traditional methods into approaches that are more effective for our particular team.