Interview

10 Common Internship Interview Questions and Answers

There are some common interview questions you’re bound to find in many of these conversations. Preparing for these ahead of time is crucial.

How exciting! You’ve landed an interview for your dream internship. Although applying can seem like a lot of work, preparing for the interview is just as important. Interviewers will be assessing your past experiences and trying to understand why you want this position in particular.

How to Prepare for an Internship Interview

There are some common interview questions you’re bound to find in many of these conversations. Preparing for these ahead of time is crucial.

That said, it’s also essential to research the company thoroughly and prepare some questions of your own ahead of time. Make these questions specific, and pick ones that basic research couldn’t answer, such as: “how would you define success in this internship role?”

Your interviewer will want to know about your work experience, why you want to intern at their company in particular, and what skills you bring to the team. 

Now, remember that this is an internship, so nobody’s expecting you to be an expert. It’s more important that you show up prepared and express passion for the company and a desire to learn. Think of your most relevant work (or school) experience and develop impactful anecdotes ahead of time. All of this helps your case.

Part of this preparation involves coming up with answers to common internship interview questions that you’re bound to run in to. There’s no excuse to be flustered over these questions. Here are ten of the most frequent ones.

10 Internship Interview Questions

Question 1: Why do you want to intern here in particular?

You’ve prepared for this! You researched the company, perused their social media, read their blog, and should know precisely why you want to work here.

This question is an excellent opportunity to connect the company’s mission to something in your personal life and let your passions shine through. Mention an interesting blog or social media post. You can even highlight aspects of the company pertinent to your internship where you feel you could make improvements.

No matter how you answer this question, be passionate and be specific.

Question 2: What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Now’s the time to show off, so don’t hold back. You should have thought through why you’d make the best hire before the interview, so come prepared with at least 3-5 reasons.

The reasons you state should highlight applicable skills or experience you have and your particular passion for this company and its mission. Additionally, explain how this internship would further your career long term. These are all aspects of your candidacy that may be addressed as entirely separate questions, which we’ll discuss later, so it’s best to set the stage right now.

Question 3: Tell me about a time you disagreed with a boss or senior team member. How did you handle the situation, and what was the outcome?

Although your initial thought may be to say you’ve never disagreed with someone senior to you, think again. Companies want to see that you can speak your mind and are comfortable expressing contradicting views with everyone, even those above you.

Think of a time where you spoke your mind to a team leader, boss, or even a professor. Highlight the feedback you gave and what your motivation was for speaking up, making sure to emphasize that you were respectful. 

Then, tell your interviewer what the results were, stating that you aren’t afraid to voice opinions when the time is right.

Question 4: Describe a time where you were given a task with little guidance. How did you successfully navigate that?

While internships are learning opportunities and structure will be given in lots of ways, companies want to make sure you’re a problem solver who can think on his/her feet. This is an excellent opportunity to show off your research and problem-solving skills, proving that you don’t need your hand held all the time.

Highlight how you overcame this obstacle, mentioning the steps you took from start to finish and some of the challenges along the way. Of course, show off the result, too!

This example could come from the classroom, maybe a group project. It can also come from extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, or music. It doesn’t matter what your source material is, so long as your answer is relevant.

Question 5: What are your long-term goals when you think about entering the workforce?

There is a right answer here. You need to make sure your response to this question is genuine, and in being genuine, it should demonstrate all how this internship and this company will help get you where you want to go.

Ideally, you discussed this in your cover letter, but now’s the time to expand upon it. Describe your career aspirations and what you want to do after graduation. How will the skills and qualifications you build during this internship allow you to launch a meaningful career?

Question 6: Tell me about the best team you’ve ever been on.

Now’s the time to get specific and leave nothing to chance. The hiring manager wants to make sure your potential coworkers and boss are the right fit for your working style. And, your interviewer wants to see if you’re self-aware enough to know your preferred team style.

Answers to this question should cover team staples like communication, leadership style, collaboration versus independent work, tight deadlines, and so on.

Be precise. If you prefer teams with a flexible leadership style, define what that means:

“I want a leader who doesn’t micromanage me and trusts me to get the work done. If I need to check in or ask for help, I will on my own terms, but I don’t want my hand held. I also want some flexibility in deadlines in case I need to shift tasks around to meet other work-related priorities.”

Question 7: The “situational” question

What this looks like will vary, but many interviewers like to test your critical thinking skills with a question such as this:

“Let’s say you have two designs for the homepage of our website. For the sake of discussion, assume our entire team is split right down the middle, 50/50, and we can’t decide which design to choose. How would you solve this problem?”

There is often a “right” answer, but, more importantly, the interviewer wants you to think out loud. Even if you arrive at the “wrong” answer, that’s okay, as long as you demonstrated solid critical thinking skills and pondered deeply.

In this sample question, the best answer would be A/B testing among current or potential customers, but even if you said focus groups, that’s a valid answer if you explain your thought process out loud. Explain that you want to test the designs against the target market and see which your users prefer.

The secret here is to think aloud and think critically. Come up with novel solutions, more than one if you can, and remain composed.

Question 8: How do you meet tight deadlines?

Your workload during any internship will shift, and sometimes there are tight deadlines. When answering this question, think of 1-2 concrete examples of when you successfully met tight deadlines. This can be a school assignment or anything else, but you want relevant anecdotes.

Most people find these sorts of deadlines to be stressful situations, and the interviewer knows you’re probably no exception. When answering this question, it’s important to highlight how you were shifted priorities and what steps you took to meet that deadline. Don’t feel like you have to boast about how much you love short notice.

Question 9: The “on-the-job” knowledge question

It’s not unheard of for an interviewer to ask you about industry knowledge relevant to your desired internship role. Although you’re still a student, it’s a good idea to come to the interview with an understanding of fundamental concepts.

Perhaps you’re interviewing for a marketing position. At this point, you should be at least a second-year student and have taken courses specific to marketing. Think about the fundamentals of marketing and make sure you can answer questions on them.

Even if you don’t know the right answer, this is an excellent opportunity to express your appetite for learning and what steps you’d take to uncover the right solution in a real-world situation. These sorts of questions aren’t about arriving at the correct response but instead proving that you’re open to learning and know how to self-teach.

Question 10: What’s something about you I should know that we haven’t yet discussed?

This gives you a fantastic opportunity to talk about any aspects of your candidacy or personality that you haven’t yet gotten to show off. This is a great wrap-up question that allows you to fill in any blanks.

Of course, the interviewer will also ask you if you’ve got any questions for them. Come prepared with these ahead of time and ask insightful questions about the company, team, or culture. Make these questions meaningful and ones that can’t be easily answered on the website.

Outro

While any interview may seem daunting, preparing for these common internship interview questions ahead of time gives you a leg up and prevents you from being flustered on the call.

Remember that interviews are unique, and the hiring manager may ask questions you aren’t prepared for. While this is unlikely if you do thorough due diligence, should this scenario arise, remain calm and take your time. It’s perfectly acceptable to pause, ask for a moment to think, or get a glass of water to buy some extra time.

Best of luck with your internship interview!

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