May 22nd, 2019 | Sterling

Interns with Access? Screening is Critical to Your Hiring Strategy

As entry-level workers eager for experience, interns provide fresh ideas and insights about how their generation views spending, ranging from shopping for shoes to financial investment. Their infectious energy pulsates through the team, and often they imbibe the company culture so well that they return as excellent full-time employees. However, not all interns are created equal. Careful diligence during the hiring process can be critical to helping ensure that the person you add to your team is an asset, not a liability.

Why Is It Important to Screen Interns?

For employers, hiring interns is a perfect way to size up potential new employees and shape a new generation of workers, but working with interns is not without risks.

Of course, these high-profile examples are on the extreme end of the spectrum and most employer/intern relationships are positive experiences. However, these examples do serve to highlight the importance of careful screening of interns, like background checks for any new hire. Among other insights, good screening solutions can reveal criminal background checks to help you maintain a safe workplace.

Screen Interns Just Like New Hires

Most companies require new permanent employees to undergo criminal background screening but fall short when it comes to interns. It’s tempting to skip the screening process for short-term hires, especially also when governed by different internal policies.

It is important to note that interns also have the same access to company resources, technology, sensitive data, and customers as permanent employees. This is why it is critical to hold interns to the same standard, regardless of their short-term tenure with your company. Here are some checks to consider:

Criminal History Searches

A criminal background check helps you ensure that your new intern will be an asset to your workplace. A thorough screening policy is key to preventing security breaches, fraud, theft, and claims against your organization.

Credit Checks

Interns in the financial services industry may have access to clients’ money. An intern with a questionable credit history could pose a potential risk with far-reaching access to handling financial transactions for your company.

Social Media Checks

Social media behavior can provide unique insights. Screening an intern candidate’s social media feeds could reveal a host of red flags such as a history of unprofessional behavior including bad-mouthing employers or colleagues, substance abuse or even lies about their qualifications.

According to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers use social media sites to screen candidates. Of those, 57% have found content that caused them not to hire a candidate. The same sort of attention to social media activities should be applicable to screening interns.

Make Hiring Policies that Include Background Screening for Interns

A 2018 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that intern hiring is steadily rising. If your company intends to engage interns, whether unpaid or paid, it’s a good idea to make policies for short-term hires that include a thorough background screening and credit check.

If you’d like more information about industry-leading screening solutions or have questions around the best solutions for your business, contact us for an immediate response.


Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.