Are you an employer looking to hire a co-op student at the post-secondary level? If so, here are some questions you should consider asking your candidates...
By Katlynd Poulton
If you're considering hiring a co-op student, there's a lot you need to consider (refer to Are You Ready? and our past employer blogs for more information). Since students are not fully qualified and may have little to no job experience in the career path they've chosen, it is in your best interest to get a feel for what job role they could successfully fill while temporarily employed with your organization. It is understandable for you to feel a bit nervous or question whether or not a co-op student is a right fit within your work environment but remember – it's also very nerve wracking from the students perspective also. You've got to keep in mind that they might not be feeling confident but are trying desperately to impress you or fill the role accordingly. It's safe to assume that both parties have their own concerns!
As the employer and interviewer, try to prepare questions that a STUDENT can answer effectively. Make sure your questions are tailored so that a student can actually answer them based on the knowledge they have from their courses and demonstrate any experience they may have had in the class room, volunteering or within another job role. If your questions are focused for someone who has been in the work force for a long time, chances are you won't get the answer you're looking for anyways because the student could not possibly have the same amount of in-field knowledge in comparison to a mature practitioner in the same field.
Here are 5 questions you should incorporate and ask your co-op student candidates during the interview process in order to gain some insight:
1. What has proven to be your greatest strength(s) within your program thus far?
2. What has proven to be your greatest weakness(s) within your program thus far?
3. Are there any areas of the job description that do not appeal to you or that you worry you may not fulfill? (Make sure you emphasize that it is OK to be honest… What you don't want is for the student to tell you what you want to hear in order to get the job but is not be able to complete assigned tasks)
4. What do you expect to gain from your co-op experience – what are some of your expectations?
5. Why does this job role appeal to you and what expertise can you bring to the role?
These seem like fairly general questions, but they allow the student to share a bit more and for you to get a better understanding of what kind of worker they might be. Someone who can answer the questions with confidence and demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to fill the position are candidates worth hiring! These are all important questions and should all be asked – in my experience, the best job roles I have had were accompanied by strong interviews where I felt I could form well-rounded answers because the questions had been slightly tailored to suit the needs of the interviewee!