View the latest results from our Virtual Career Fairs Quick Poll >>

NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition®
mobile menu
  • Internship Experience the Deciding Factor for Otherwise Equal Candidates

    March 09, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    An intern works on a project.

    TAGS: internships, trends and predictions, surveys, recruiting, spotlight

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    When employers have two equally qualified candidates, they tend to choose the candidate with internship experience, according to results of NACE’s Job Outlook 2020 survey.

    This marks the third consecutive year that employers identified internship experience as the top differentiator between two equally qualified job candidates.

    Candidates who have completed an internship with a hiring organization have a slight edge over those with internship experience in a given industry, but both attributes show the highest influence ratings in choosing one candidate over another. (See Figure 1.)

    A student’s major and having held a leadership position are equally influential, as are general work experience and involvement in extracurricular activities. Having a GPA of 3.0 or above also has somewhat of an influence, but having no work experience may influence the employer to hire another candidate who does.

    Data for the Job Outlook 2020 survey were collected from August 1, 2019, through September 30, 2019. This year’s data collection not only surveyed 905 NACE employer members, but also 2,229 employer organizations that were nonmembers. A total of 150 surveys were returned; 115 were NACE members and the remaining 35 were nonmembers. The Job Outlook 2020 report is available free to members through MyNACE. Nonmembers can purchase the report through the NACE Store.

    Figure 1: Influence of Attributes

    Attribute 2020 Average Influence Rating 2019 Average Influence Rating 2018 Average Influence Rating
    Has completed an internship with your organization 4.6 4.6 4.6
    Has internship experience in your industry 4.4 4.5 4.4
    Major 3.9 4.0 3.8
    Has held leadership position 3.9 3.8 3.7
    Has general work experience 3.6 3.7 3.7
    Has been involved in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, student government, etc.) 3.6 3.5 3.3
    High GPA (3.0 or above) 3.5 3.3 3.4
    Has no work experience 3.4 3.4 3.4
    School attended 2.7 2.8 2.9
    Has done volunteer work 2.7 2.7 2.6
    Is fluent in a foreign language 2.2 2.2 2.1
    Other 2.1 2.2 N/A
    Has studied abroad 2.0 2.2 2.0
    Source: Job Outlook 2020, National Association of Colleges and Employers
    *5-point scale, where 1=No influence at all, 2=Not much influence, 3=Somewhat of an influence, 4=Very much influence, and 5=Extreme influence.