How to Fire an Intern


Interns can play a valuable role in an office completing tasks and supporting staff members, but there are times when things just aren’t working out. If the intern’s work is lacking or if there are attitude issues, then it’s time to part ways. When firing an intern, be sure to have a plan to avoid any unnecessary complications during the separation.

Talk to an HR Representative First

  • Even though interns are not technically employees, it’s important to meet with a human resources representative to discuss the implications of letting an intern go. Discuss the reasons for termination to make sure no laws have been broken. Also, it may be wise to have the human resources representative present when the intern is fired. Otherwise, interns can make accusations about the circumstances of the firing, which can have negative repercussions for a company and its public image.

Hold a Meeting

  • Most interns are college students looking to gain some real world job experience, before they graduate and are forced to find a job of their own. For this reason, internships are considered more of a learning experience than anything else. It’s important to hold a meeting when letting an intern go, to explain to them the reasons for the termination. This feedback can be invaluable and help the released individual adjust their behavior and be more successful in the future. This meeting should be constructive rather than degrading, even if the intern has a poor attitude. If the intern has a mentor, that person should also be present.

Get a Signed Non-disclosure Agreement

  • Non-disclosure agreements are normally signed at the beginning of employment or internships, for the protection of a company and its clientele. Otherwise, employees or interns may be tempted to discuss the goings-on at work, along with specific details that could tarnish their employer’s reputation. If a non-disclosure agreement was not signed, then it’s important to get one signed before the intern leaves.

Perform a Post-mortem

  • Even though an intern may have done things to warrant termination, it’s important to figure out if something went wrong on the company’s end as well. Holding a post-mortem can help employers figure out if they are not putting enough time into recruiting interns, or if employees are actually forcing interns to do extra, non-value-added work on the side. If there are deficiencies in a company’s approach to hiring or utilizing interns, these issues are likely to be discovered at a post-mortem.

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