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by Nirupa Jayakrishnan | August 15, 2023


After a tremendously successful 24 years of hiring from some of the top universities across the world, one of the most common questions that we at InStep get asked is, “Who is an ideal intern?” This makes us wonder, is there really an “ideal” intern? Or is it that every intern is unique but there are some common traits that make them ideal? Is recruiting just instinct or is it science—or is it a synchronized amalgamation of both?

Let us agree that there is a meticulous method to this madness. And after years of doing the same thing, every recruiter usually forms their own formula. However, if we were to bare our hearts, then it would be fair to say that as recruiters, we often use our gift of intuition as we sift through thousands of applications. Should we also come clean and say that sometimes we take a deep breath and hope that we have hired a mind-blowing intern? While the latter is seldom true, let us break down our “gift of intuition” and take you into the minds and hearts of an InStep recruiter.

Before we start, let us look at the most consistent factor ... the end objective. To put it simply, the objective has always been to hire interns who will be mascots of Infosys and people who will grow and flourish personally and professionally in the ecosystem that we have created for the 300,000 employees around the world.

Openness to experience

As cliché as it may sound, being open to new experiences is a critical quality that we look for in interns as we strive to create an experience that is professionally and personally enriching. Interns who are open to surprises and challenges are able to give themselves an experience where learning can come from anywhere. Mentors also immensely enjoy working with interns who are eager to explore when met with the unexpected.

The more open an intern is, the more they are able to absorb every experience that we can give them. In short, interns who get excited about the myriad of experiences we offer are the ones we ourselves have fun working with.

Ability to learn

It isn’t a secret that one’s extraordinary talents don’t amount to much if they lack the ability to learn. Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has written about the importance of hiring people who are willing to learn and devoted to hard work because, when they’re thrown a curve ball, they are the quickest to adapt. It also reflects highly on their attitude and discipline.

But how do we gauge this ability? More often than not, our interview questions focus on how a potential intern solves a problem presented to them, rather than focusing on whether or not they arrived at the correct conclusion. We find that knowing candidates’ problem-solving abilities provides a better look at what they’re capable of.

Strong foundation

Our thinking can only go as far as the limited information our mind carries. This is why we as interviewers look for our interviewees to have strong fundamental skills in place. Most of our rejections are based on poor fundamentals in applicants. While we don’t expect students to come into the internship as experts in their field, not knowing the basics of their department can set them at a disadvantage and prevent them from getting the full depth of experience the internship provides. The 8–12 weeks of the internship go by fast, and it’s important that all interns start on the same page rather than getting bogged down in trying to catch up with their peers. This keeps them from missing out on the internship experience. While there may be many more characteristics to an appealing potential intern, the truth remains that there is no such thing as an “ideal” intern. Humility and the urge to contribute to the organization as an intern can also go a long way toward sealing the deal. We hope that this has given potential interns some insight into our candidate-selection process, and we look forward to meeting prospective interns soon.