From an employer's perspective, hiring a student can have various strengths and weaknesses. Sure, they're typically young and energetic, but they're still in school. And being in high school or college is a commitment. From a business owner's or manager's standpoint, employing a student is a bit like hiring someone with a second job. But there's more to it than the scheduling factor. Use the following pros and cons to decide if you should hire someone who's still in school. As you read, it would be wise to compile a list of interview questions for a student.

Some Good Things About Hiring a Student

Not all students take school seriously, but with sharp intuition and a few well-planned questions, you can usually spot the ones who are committed to doing their best behind the desk. Students who are diligent about their studies are often diligent about whatever else they put their minds to, such as jobs. The skills a good student brings to the work table usually include creativity, organization and problem-solving. Other student strengths can include being a good listener, team worker and leader.

If you own a seasonal business: For example, if you own a fruit stand, you might benefit from employing a student or two. Their summer schedules are open, so they might be eager to pick up extra shifts to make the most of their time away from the books and teachers or professors. Although some non-student workers sometimes return to seasonal jobs, many find regular employment elsewhere. On the other hand, a student worker who's a good fit with your warm-weather venture may be happy to return year after year, at least until he graduates.

Think ahead: Does the college or university student's academic aim match your enterprise? If so, she may be a real asset to your company after graduation. Many high-school students are planning ahead for a degree or profession so it is a good topic to discuss in an interview.

If you hire an intern: You know that she's looking to build her knowledge of your industry and will likely be an eager learner, if given proper direction and kept busy. Even though you may not be required to pay interns, giving them paychecks can help them to cover student loans, afford to stay in school and can boost their enthusiasm and your reputation.

The Not-So-Good Things

Although you may want to give a student a chance to prove herself as an employee, you have a business to run and it has to remain your priority. Before you hire a green or unskilled worker, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have the time to train someone who's never worked before or to mentor an intern?
  • How much time and focus can someone who's juggling courses, prepping for exams and worrying about homework actually dedicate to a full-or-part-time job?  (Another good interview topic for discussion.)
  • Can I arrange the work schedule in order to accommodate a student? 

A student's grades aren't necessarily a reliable gauge of their ability to be a good worker. Some of the world's most successful people dropped out of or didn't do well in schools, such as Drew Barrymore, Simon Cowell and Richard Branson, to name just three. However, the weaknesses of a student who is not committed to doing his best in school often translate into weaknesses or negative traits in the workplace. These downfalls can include laziness, unreliability, poor listening skills and possibly even a bad attitude which may not be evident in the interview process.

The Conclusion

A student's academic strengths and weaknesses can help you make an informed decision about whether or not he's a good fit for your business. But don't rely solely on how well a high school or university scholar is doing on paper. Although first impressions make good guides, use your gut and savvy interview questions to determine a student's potential in the workplace.

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