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3 things interns want in an employer

By Ruth
October 12 2017

Posted in Employer Resources

It’s a week after Offers Day for SoT2017, and we have 166 successful tech intern candidates (so far…)

Unfortunately, some employers are feeling disappointed that their CHOSEN ONES declined their offers. At the same time, we still have 1,200+ highly motivated & engaged potential interns seeking roles. We see evidence that there is an over-supply of awesome people seeking entry-level roles in Tech.

For the hiring managers who got “DECLINES” on Offers Day, please keep searching for candidates! Our team can help! We can also meet you for a retrospective and feedback session on the ins & outs of your intern recruitment experience this year.

Rejection is not fun.

We do a lot of coaching and career clinics with students & graduates. Below are our top 3 things that cause candidates to say “thanks, but no thanks”. While it’s not a formula (because… humans!), these are the kinds of questions they’ll be asking themselves if they’re lucky enough to have a choice to make about job offers.  Remember many of them were juggling multiple potential roles, and that includes inside SoT2017 AND outside of our programme too.

By the way, this criteria is broad and generalised, we do know humans are human and individual circumstances will differ. But as a broad guide, most of the reasons for declining a job offer or  even answering the “should I apply for this job in the first place?” question, fit into these categories.


Does this role/team/opportunity engage me? Does it align with my passion or motivation?

Will I fit in here? Will I be supported/trained and valued?

Is this work useful? Will my contribution make a difference? Do I understand how my role fits into the wider context?

Who is my mentor? Will I get on with them? What about the wider team?

Have I met the people? Do I know who I’ll be working with? Have they hired interns/grads before?

What’s their office environment like? What’s the dress-code? What’s the vibe/culture/feel of the place?


What does the work involve? Does it align to what I’ve been studying? Is it what I really want to do right now? Am I interested in that type of work?

Will it challenge me or let me apply what I’ve learned or help me understand what I’ve learned? What will I gain from this job?

Do I understand what you need to do to be successful in the role?

(Extra resource: read up on neurodiversity if you’re interested in nailing this category AND being an awesome mentor AND retaining your amazing intern beyond summer… and more, here is a link to the video of a 10 1/2 minute TEDED talk by Brian Kinghorn, an introduction to neurodiversity, a reminder that everyone’s brain works differently)


Will this role help me fulfil my aspirations & potential?

Is this an industry or sector or type of role or organisation that I want to work in in future? Is this a stepping stone?

Are there career development opportunities? Do they train and promote from within?

What about my dreams to pay off my student loan? (Note: wages are a factor but not USUALLY the main reason for a candidate to reject a role. We ask you to pay a fair wage, but we have many examples of students with multiple offers going for the role that is paying significantly less in wages)


Everyone is different, and like you, candidates are looking for the RIGHT fit. Some aspects will be more important for some people than others. If you listen for drivers and motivating factors during job interviews, that will give you a head start in understanding what the candidate is looking for, and whether you’re going to be their top choice when it comes to a job offer.

Please please please understand that job choices are hard. Candidates who have multiple offers are often just as stressed as candidates with no offers – though for different reasons.  Please treat your “no’s” as well as your “yesses”. Remember NZ is a village, and just because someone turns down your job offer this year, doesn’t mean they won’t come back to you in future and be an even better team member then!

Final final #ProTip: If your organisation is thinking…

WHERE ARE ALL THE [good/diverse/ideal/bestest] CANDIDATES?… WHY DON’T THEY APPLY

…you should be asking whether you’re ticking all these boxes.  There are plenty of good candidates, but maybe they don’t think you’re a match.  But that’s the topic of a blog post for another day.

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