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I’ve just been made president of my startup but because the budget is low I had to hire two interns. The president I’m replacing decided to select the interns I was going to work with which meant I got a very bad selection of people.

One of the problems is that one of the interns I ended up hiring barely speaks any German, we work for a German website. There’s still things I can give her but she’s very lazy and has a terrible attitude. She files her nails at work, leaves early, rolls her eyes at me. She’s the worse. The other intern speaks German perfectly but she lies to me all the time, asks to work remotely for ridiculous excuses but then disappears, has friends visiting her at work hours, is always on the phone even when I talk to her. The list is immense. Both of these interns have really bad work ethic, they never seem to want to learn, when I try to give them training, they try to end it fast, interrupting me, saying they understand when they don’t just so I stop talking.

The one that speaks German well and who acted more professionally the first week on the job now decided to try and get the company hire her friends. The problem is that although I’m the ceo, the founder of my company is still the one making the decisions and she’s trying to go above me and get him to hire her friends. She asked her friend to send his Cv to me and the founder, which annoyed me since I’m her boss and I’m the one doing the interviews and hiring people. After sending his cv, one hour after the email, she brought her friend into our office and told me he was there to be interviewd. I was shocked by her attitude and told her friend I was busy and couldn’t interview him. This week I worked remotely and she just decided to, once again, go above me and bring her friend to the office. She knew the founder was there. And so, because the founder loves to get involved and is unaware of all of this he ended up interviewing him. And to make matters worse he asked me to interview this guy who’s best friends with the incompetent intern. I don’t want these two working together plus my company doesn’t need any more junior people.

What should I do? Reading what I’ve just wrote I realize I’ve been incredibly soft.

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    Are these interns being paid? – joeqwerty Aug 24 at 1:32
  • Hi @joeqwerty, yes they are. – Randomator Aug 24 at 7:58
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    there are so many contrasts in "I am CEO" and "founder decides everything". Mention all your criticisms to the founder. Did you mention anything to him? Who decides is responsible. You are CEO = responsible so why don't you decide? – puck Aug 24 at 8:01
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    the founder loves to get involved and is unaware of all of this - Why is he unaware of this? Didn't you tell him about the problems these interns are for you? – Arsak Aug 24 at 8:54
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    backstabbing? People who actually run companies don't look for betrayal in the acts of clueless, presumptuous young people who don't know how business works. They teach them how business works and how to be an employee. And if they're not ready to do that, they don't hire interns. There's a reason they're cheaper. Get one solid person who can do what you need and doesn't need a lot of managing, while you learn how to manage. – Kate Gregory Aug 24 at 13:03
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There's too much to address here, but I'll cover some things that I think are important.

First, your write-up speaks largely of your attitude and approach to managing employees. It also shows that you are very new to management or just very insecure. If your first assumption of taking on the management role is that "everyone else is terrible but me", then you may need to reassess yourself for the role.

You sound frustrated because you don't have the best people doing the job you need them to do. But if your attitude is this sour, you won't be able to create a work culture where the best people will want to work. They'll go somewhere else.

But read on.

First rule of management is recognizing that not everyone is going to be as productive as you would be in that same job. As a manager, there's both a "task master" role of driving a schedule and project as well as being a coach. Your interns need coaching, not commanding or hurried training.

I’ve just been made president of my startup but because the budget is low I had to hire two interns.

I assume when you speak of interns, you are referring to university students that are working part-time or during the summer. Internships are often a way for a company to "give back" to the industry while simultaneously training an employee for a full-time role later. Internships typically have both a learning goal for the employee centered around a set of projects that would be valuable to the company. But if you are expecting an intern to be just cheap labor that deliver results at the same level as an experienced hire without any effort on your part, you are very mistaken. If this is about getting business-critical work done, you would have been better off hiring a single employee with experience instead of two interns.

when I try to give them training, they try to end it fast, interrupting me, saying they understand when they don’t just so I stop talking.

Maybe you do need to stop talking and just let them try. Come back later to review the work and tell them how to improve if they mess up.

The problem is that although I’m the ceo, the founder of my company is still the one making the decisions

And so, because the founder loves to get involved and is unaware of all of this he ended up interviewing him.

Who's the CEO again? It does not sound like it is you. You and the founder need to come to terms over who's the actual manager of personnel and the structure by which people get hired. However, it is perfectly reasonable for anyone's manager (including the boss of the CEO) to have a say in hiring, And it sounds like the founder is simply doing the arduous task of pre-screening candidates, but leaving the hiring decision up to you. That sounds like a good deal to me.

she brought her friend into our office and told me he was there to be interviewd. I was shocked by her attitude and told her friend I was busy and couldn’t interview him.

Yes, it can be awkward when a co-worker makes an impromptu in-person introduction for a position you are hiring for. The best course is to just allow the introduction to happen, exchange contact information, and ask to schedule later.

For everything else you said, it seems like you need to be formally defining the expectations of interns and the rules by which you expect them to work. Stuff like the eye-rolling, leaving early, and working remotely needs to be addressed firmly and politely.

One final thing:

She files her nails at work

Get over it.

  • Perfect answer. – solarflare Aug 26 at 2:59
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    Get over it? I suppose it's not the nail filing itself but people not actively contributing to the workplace found to be reasonably unacceptable. – Levano Aug 26 at 14:21
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    @Levano - "Files her nails at work" is at best a petty complaint. It might make for a good topic on this site by itself. But given the tone of the OP's rant, it comes across as sexist and chauvinistic. The goal of my answer is that that the OP needs to let go of his frustrations and look at the bigger picture - that he's got untrained employees that need coaching and an unclear management structure. But hey, downvote all you want because if you think I'm being too harsh a guy with a company title of "President" and doesn't have any people skills. – selbie Aug 26 at 20:46
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    @selbie I don't see how listing "files her nails at work" would be sexist and/or chauvinistic. Personally, I see it as part of a list explaining she doesn't care the slightest. As for the friend coming by for an interview, this is simply rude and weird behavior. According to the story this was not at all planned, especially on such a short notice. Calling that awkward is an understatement. Other than that, I do agree OP does not sound and act like a CEO and could've (and should've) handled situations a lot better. – Edwin Lambregts Aug 27 at 13:07
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    @Randomator - and to address the "tough on me" comment. That's fair feedback, but the tone of your question contained a lot of ranting. I wrote a bit more authoritatively in hopes it would help change your perspective. – selbie Sep 6 at 21:12
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They are interns. They do not understand how to handle themselves at work. I see it with 70-80% of my interns. The problem is you have two and they are feeding off each other's poor attitude. The tempo has been set at your workplace.

Here is what I would do (and have done).

  1. Talk with each of them - I would just do both at the same time. Boom here are the things we expect from you. We do not expect you to be doing XYZ at work especially if you don't know how to do the 4-5 things we need you doing. So if you are ever bored, study how to do those things. As far as working from home or goofing off, it is done or you are not going to work here.

  2. Follow up with them - well micromanage them anytime you see them doing something wrong or not doing anything at all. You don't need to go overboard if they are answering an email or doing something quick but if they are goofing off for a good amount of time - SAY SOMETHING. They must understand that you are watching them all the time. This is the process of removing the malcontents. They will either start trying if they care about the internship or they will go to your founder and complain. This is what you want them doing. This whole thing is like training a puppy. Everytime your puppy does something good you praise, bad you discipline - bad interns are in the same bucket.

  3. Quit referring to yourself as CEO and hire some real people for your company. You aren't a CEO if you only hire interns and especially if you don't even get that decision. You calling yourself a CEO sets the tempo for your office too. It sounds like your office needs a total cultural change. This starts with how you act and conduct yourself and the second step is doing the job of a competent manager (let alone CEO) and don't let the interns infect everyone else which it sounds like they have.

  4. When the new staff comes in whether intern or whatever, make sure they have the skills to do the job. If you are hiring low wage employees fire the ones almost instantly that can't perform and have a bad work ethic. You cannot have this on display to the employees you value.

  • thank you. I've put in place some of you suggestions. – Randomator Sep 6 at 7:30

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