15+ Common Internship Interview Questions & Sample Answers (+ Preparation Guide)
An internship interview isn’t too dissimilar to a regular job interview. Some variances may include the interviewer or hiring manager asking more questions about the field of study in school or personal passions that led the candidate to the internship job opportunity. But generally, the interviewer is going to act as though this is a traditional job interview.
As an intern candidate, it’s important to know as much about the company as possible. Being aware of what the company offers, who their competitors are, what their company objectives are, and other company factors can be a useful way to customize an interview answer as an internship candidate. These tailored answers to each interview question can be a great way to impress the interviewer.
For most potential interns performing an interview, the issue they have is a lack of experience. While many internships don’t require a healthy amount of professional experience, it’s important to use other examples that show work ethic and work motivation. For example, using extracurricular activities or soft skills as a way to stand out to the potential employer.
As a prospective intern, it can be important to not only research the company but have a great answer about your desired career path, like career aspirations, and what led you to that path, in advance. This is sometimes referred to as an “elevator pitch”. Having this elevator pitch practiced, which should take you about 90 seconds to recite, will be helpful when the interviewer asks a question like, “Tell me about yourself” or “Tell me why you want this job”.
Behavioral Interview Questions
It’s common to have behavioral interview questions be asked in the intern interview. A behavioral question is an open-ended question that prompts the interviewer to tell a story. This story helps the interviewer learn more about the candidate through an explanation of a situation or past experience that can predict future work behavior. For example, if the interviewer were to ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision without all the proper information in front of you.” This would prompt a specific example to be told that can help the interviewer predict how you might handle a similar situation at work.
Using the STAR Method is a great way to answer these questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. And this is a way to structure your story so that it is understandable and impactful. A situation might be needing to make a decision without the right information. The task may be needing to meet a deadline. The action may be the decision to look at past emails or use voicemails to decipher the information. And the result may be meeting the deadline.
Expect to be asked one to five behavioral questions for an internship position. Remember, these questions are designed to replace previous work experience. Meaning, a college student or recent graduate may want to refer to sports, extracurricular activities, academic accomplishments, or other situations besides work.
5 Common Internship Interview Questions & Answers
Below are common interview questions and answers to expect.
1. What do you know about our company?
“I remember hearing about the founding story of [CEO] many years ago, I always found it incredibly inspiring. How someone could grow a company from nothing to what it is today. I know you sell [Product/Service] and have around [X] number of employees.”
See more about answering “What do you know about our company?”
2. How did you hear about this internship?
“I was looking for an opportunity to work with a company of this size and in this industry. And I found the opportunity directly through the corporate website. But I also found it on LinkedIn as well, which is where I do a majority of my job searches.”
3. Why do you want to be an intern here?
“Experience is truly the most important part of the resume. And because of that, I know I need more experience as a recent college graduate. I would be willing to perform any task, big or small, in order to gain exposure of the inner workings of any department. This company is truly profound, the environment seems collaborative and I have a passion for what we offer as a company.”
4. Where do you see your career taking you?
“I want to work within this industry. I have a particular passion for the product and marketing departments. While I’m an intern, my goal is to try and see where I best resonate with department-wise. After that, I’m hoping I can gain an entry-level position inside that department and start there.”
5. What do you think your best quality is?
“My best quality is being able to empathize with our customers or my colleagues. I’ve found that empathy is the best way to obtain the trust of others and to perform the best.”
See a similar question, “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?”
5 Phone Internship Interview Questions & Answers
Below are common phone interview questions to expect when speaking about an internship opportunity.
1. What did you study in school?
Answer: “I was studying business and marketing at [X] university. I was able to graduate with a high GPA and honors. I was also part of many of our extracurricular clubs that gave me additional insight into where I wanted to see myself going with my career.”
2. Did you do anything outside of school that would be relative to this internship?
Answer: “Absolutely. I found myself reading at least one book a week related to this industry. I knew that school was only going to take me so far. It was going to give me the foundation, but I also needed to learn from those who had experience, and the only way to do that was to read books by professionals in the industry.”
3. What are some of your passions?
Answer: “I’ve always been passionate about helping others. In my spare time, I like to put together meals for those less fortunate, through my church group. That’s a passion of mine, helping others.”
See more about answering, “What are some of your passions?”
4. What do you think your classmates would say about you?
Answer: “I think they would say kind things. They would say that I am empathetic, hardworking, and appreciate challenges. I know that many of my classmates don’t love challenges, but I appreciate them.”
5. How soon could you start?
Answer: “I’m ready and available to start as soon as I can. I’m no longer at school and in the area. When would you like me to come in and meet the team?”
See more about answering, “When are you available to start?”
Internship Interview Tips
As a potential intern, here are a few tips to help ensure a good interview takes place.
- Prepare for the “tough question” to be asked. This includes “Tell me about yourself” and “What can you bring to the company?” These questions require research of the company and a simple recited answer that can help the interviewer feel confident in the candidate.
- Expect the interview process to be a phone interview, in-person or zoom interview, and then a final interview. An internship position is often treated much like a regular job interview and position.
- Spend time researching the company goals, company values, work environment, and other work factors in advance of the interview. Use these data points to help answer each interview question.
- Perform a "mock interview" with a family member or friend. Have them ask you random interview questions and practice the delivery of the interview question answer. Each answer should take no more than 90-seconds to recite or explain.
- Performing an informational interview in advance of the internship interview can be useful. This is where a potential employee speaks with a current employee and asks about career advice. This career advice can guide the candidate on the right path when deciding upon interview answers.
A good intern is someone who is willing to learn. Instead of focusing on your technical skills, focus on adaptability as what makes you unique. Show comprehension of the company’s goals during the interview.
During an interview, the following questions cannot be asked. Questions regarding your race, religion, gender preference, marital status, pregnancy status, gender identity, citizenship, number of children, height and weight, or other defining characteristics.
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