When you decide to move on with your education and start studying at university, there is always a moment where you need to take a first step and enter the real world. Universities like to call it internships.
This particular moment might be quite stressful for students. In reality there are no guidelines to go on the market and search for an internship. Once you finally get an interview for an internship, you need to prepare for it.
For most students, this moment is a stressful and anxious one, but here is the good news, if you prepare correctly on the following questions, the chance that you get it right is enormous!
The advantage with internship questions is they are often the same. Recruiters rarely go with fancy interview questions. Another good news for you? Tricky questions have been proven to bring no value to an interview, so there is almost no chance you get to be asked one of these.
We always recommend going the extra mile for your internship preparation and studying all the internship questions and answers you can. However, if you already prepare correctly for the ones below, you will ace your internship interview.
Question 1: Tell me about yourself or can you summarize your experiences?
In an internship interview, this question can be tricky because by definition, if you are a student, you should not have a long experience working. However, as a student, you often need to face a tremendous amount of projects, or change going from one school to another, sometimes even going from one country to another. Students also learn languages or have been working in the family business or during the summer in children camp for instance.
For this question, you will note every aspect of your life story that makes you who you are today. If you have been working in a summer camp, living and working with 10 other people, it is extremely beneficial for you and your career. You can highlight your capability of being a team player, being tolerant, creating relationships, etc.
The same advice applies to an internship interview and any other type of job interviews when it comes to the structure of your answer:
- State facts in a chronological order.
- Finish by explaining your current situation.
- Spend more time on the experience that will be relevant for the job position or highlight the skills that can be useful for the internship.
- If you had a negative experience, turn it into a positive one by mentioning what you have learned from it. Mention it only if relevant for the internship position.
Question 2: What makes you the best candidate for this internship?
This question is meant to understand if you have a good understanding of the internship position.
Based on the internship you are applying to, select 2 or 3 responsibilities.
- Highlight the skills you have in order to handle those responsibilities.
- Link each responsibilities to your strengths.
- Tell an experience you have had using those skills or strengths.
For example if the internship is in finance, you can mention that during a project at school, the group needed a finance manager and you took over this responsibility. Then you mention your strength, for example you can say that you are precise and detail oriented.
You always like to get it right when it comes to numbers, so when you had to take over the responsibility for a project at University, you successfully did and even was congratulated by your teacher or your teammates if that is the case.
Question 3: What are your Strengths and Weaknesses?
This question is meant to understand how self-aware you are. For your internship interview, make sure you study this question carefully. You need to be aware of your strengths/ weaknesses even if it is sometimes difficult especially if you don’t have a lot of experience.
If you don’t know how to answer this question, ask your family or your friends, they will know.
For the weakness, don’t mention it blindly but give the context and most importantly mention how you are working on it so that eventually one day it would no longer be a weakness. Prepare your answer following the structure below:
- Select 1 or 2.
- Make sure they are not too critical for the job position.
- Provide the context and in which situation you experience it.
- Tell the recruiter how you are working on your weakness to eventually turn it into a strength.
- Ensure your strengths support the job description and set you apart as a candidate.
- Don’t be overly humble.
- Provide the context and how this will benefit the job you are applying for.
Question 4: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question is meant to understand if you are willing to invest time and energy into the company, if you are a student they can hire or keep you in mind for a long-term position. It is also to understand if you are an ambitious person and have already defined the career path you want to follow. Here, no good or bad answer, you need to evaluate based on your personal feeling.
- If this is a graduation internship, the chance that the company wants to hire you at the end if all turns well, is high.
- Try to design your answer to match it with the field of the internship.
Question 5: What do you hope to learn or what are your expectations from this internship?
This question is meant to understand if your expectations match the internship responsibilities:
- Make sure you have fully understood the internship description.
- Research every term you are unfamiliar with in the job description.
- Imagine what a day to day can look like during this internship.
- Use keywords from the internship description. This way, the hiring manager can connect your profile answers with its questions.
Question 6: Would you like to be hired at the end of your internship?
Generally, we recommend you to say yes. The company may want to hire an intern who is suitable to fill a long term position after the internship. Your initial plan may not be to start your career in that company but this could change. You don’t want to be rejected from an opening position only because of this question. We advise you to play it safe. However, during the internship interview, don’t overly show your expectations on this matter. Find the right balance.
Question 7: What are the projects or initiatives you are proud of?
This internship question may have several goals, the first one is to understand how you position your work over the others, if you speak about a project you ran, do you speak as “we” or “I”. Then it is also to understand if you would rather lead, follow, execute. Etc.
Structure your answer as follows:
- Select 1 or 2 significant projects.
- Tell your story in a chronological order.
- Mention your role in those projects.
- Describe the skills you have been using and what you have learned.
Question 8: How do you prioritize your work ?
This internship question is meant to understand if you can prioritize your work, if it is a natural trait of yours. This internship question is also for the hiring manager to understand if you know how to ask help when necessary.
This question is very personal, but the few keywords we recommend you to use are the following: time management, organizational tool if you use any, prioritize based on urgency, meet deadlines, check out with teammates, ask for help when needed, communication etc.
Question 9: What is the most challenging experience you have had ?
For this question, choose rightfully the experience you share with the recruiter, you don’t want this experience to be too personal. This may be borderline with the environment of your internship and make the hiring manager feel uncomfortable.
We recommend you to choose an experience at University or in your student job where you had to deal with a conflict or deadline that could have been stressful. We recommend you here to always finish on a positive note and therefore tell how you solved the situation and learned from it.
Make sure the challenging experience is a real one. If not, this could make the interviewer feel like you have not been through a tough experience yet and this may be difficult to deal with, if this is happening during the internship.
Question 10: Do you have questions for us ?
If your internship is in a specific domain or you need to clarify a couple of points for your internship, this is the right moment to do it. However, this is also an opportunity for you to understand more about the company culture, your responsibilities. So, feel free to ask about it.
A job interview is a hiring process for both parties: for the hiring manager to get to know you but also for you to get to know the hiring manager and the company. We recommend asking between 2 & 3 questions.
Most of the time, this question is asked at the end of the internship interview and the internship questions and answers from the hiring manager have taken most of the time.
Below, we are sharing a few questions which might be interesting for you to ask. Make sure your questions are not too difficult for the hiring manager to ask and not confidential.
1) Can you describe the company/ department culture ?
2) What’s the biggest opportunity/ challenge for the company right now ?
3) What will the best intern accomplish during this internship ?
4) Can you tell me about the current objectives/ challenges from the team ?
5) What qualities are most important in order to excel in this internship ?
6) What’s your favorite part about working here ?
Going to an internship interview is not an easy thing to do, but if you study those questions rightfully, put on your most beautiful smile and inform yourself about the company and the people who will be interviewing you, the chance that you get this internship of your dream is high.
For more about interview preparation, read our blog.