Working toward securing an internship? If you’ve done this before, you know that you likely won’t get an internship without going through some sort of interview. Whether that is a phone interview, video interview or an in-person interview, being prepared to answer some of the most common intern interview questions can get you to the next step. Here are my five favorite interview questions for interns and what I’m hoping to learn from the candidate when asking them.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Doesn’t every interview usually start with this? The response to this question sets the stage. Unfortunately, most interviewers know within a matter of minutes if a candidate is going to work out or not, so make sure to pay attention to this question. You don’t want the response scripted but you can have a pretty good outline to follow. Keep the response concise – two minutes or so. Don’t regurgitate your resume, but rather highlight the things from it that make you a good fit for the role. Tell why you are excited about the position and sell yourself as the best candidate!
2. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated ‘X’. What did you do and what was the outcome? What did you learn?
It doesn’t really matter what the ‘X’ is. It could be, tell me about a time you led a project. Or, tell me about a time you had to confront a peer. As long as you get to the root of the question, that is what I care about. This type of question is a behavior-based question. The theory is that past behavior will predict future performance. For these questions you want to come with a strong example of the skill or quality they are really asking about. For me, the most valuable piece of this question is what you learned. For behavioral-based questions, sometimes a failure makes for the best answer.
Demonstrating the learning and how you’d do things differently tells me a lot about your character and your ability to critique yourself in order to grow. Make sure that you get all parts of the question.
3. How do you build trust with others?
This question is really about your people skills. Take this opportunity to talk about your past working relationships and what made them special. What do you value in others you’ve worked with and what do you feel they’d say about you. Soft skills in the workplace are a real hot topic right now and this question allows you to highlight your soft skill strengths, whether that be team building, verbal/written communication, integrity, etc. Showcase those!
4. How do you feel this internship will help you achieve your career aspirations?
One of the more common intern interview questions. I want to see that you are humble and considerate of the job being a mutual benefit for both. You can focus on the things that you hope to gain and share some insight into your career aspirations, but don’t make it all about what you’ll get. This is an easy question to share your desires, but then remind the employer why they should want you and want to help you with your career aspirations. That could be leveraging a special project, potential for long term employment or a variety of other reasons.
5. What questions do you have for me?
I want to know that you are just as interested in learning about the organization and if it is a good fit for you, in an unselfish way. Have plenty prepared because some may be answered through the interview. Try to keep them high level to start off and not into the selfish details, like pay and perks. Questions I enjoy are: ‘What do you like about your job/company?’; ‘What does success look like for this role?’; and ‘What would past interns say about this internship?’.
I hope these examples of common intern interview questions help put you on the path to success! As a little bonus, I’d also remind you to make sure you’ve done plenty of research on the company. Anytime that you can weave in some of what you’ve learned makes your responses that more impressive (obviously don’t go overboard!) Good luck!
Find more tips for a successful internship experience in our “Internship Archives.”
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