Preparing for interviews can be quite stressful, especially as a student with no work experience. As summer starts to roll through, students can use this time to find and explore internship opportunities. Ranging anywhere from about 2-6 months, internships allow students to develop professional skills, gain hands-on experience, and learn more about their field of study. It provides a great stepping stone in how to seek and apply for jobs after graduating college. While it may be difficult to prepare for your first “real” job or internship without any previous experience, here are a few of the most popular interview questions for interns!
Probably the most common question used to start off the interview is “tell me about yourself.” As open-ended and intimidating it may seem, there is a method to successfully answer this question using these steps!
Talk about your education. What is the highest degree you hold or are working towards, and what college or university do you attend? Mention your major and any other relevant minors or concentrations you have. Give a brief explanation of why you chose this field of study and what you hope to pursue with it. This helps touch on why you applied to the company and the specific role as well. Provide an example of your skills or past experience related to the role you are applying for.
This can be anything from student organization involvement, personal projects, accomplishments, volunteer activities, and more! This further highlights your interests and helps employers see what you may contribute to their company. Lastly, end with something unique or memorable or some kind of “call to action” to finish your answer. This can be a fun fact about you, your hobbies, or what you hope to pursue in the future through this internship.
Interviewers usually ask why you want to work for their company to see if your goals align with the internship. It helps them understand what you hope to gain from experience. When crafting your response, it is important to be enthusiastic and show you’ve researched the company. Try to be specific in answering this question, and really think about what separates this company from others. This is one of the most common interview questions for interns!
You can use similar answers to other variations of this question which may be:
Many employers use behavioral questions to get a glimpse of what you would be like as an employee. They want to see how well you work towards solving problems or resolving conflict. Often, behavioral questions are related to the “theme” of the position you are applying for. For example, an engineering role may have questions related to problem solving and technical skills. On the other hand, a consulting role may focus more on your communication skills and examples of times you’ve had to work with a group of people.
Examples of these type of questions include:
A key to answering these questions is to “show” rather than “tell.” This can be done successfully by using the STAR method:
Situation: First, give a background of the experience you are drawing from. This can include anything from your previous jobs, volunteering, clubs, course projects, etc. Use a situation that you can talk about in great detail and is relevant to the question you are being asked.
Task: Were you the leader? Supporting team member? Explain your role in the situation and the initial goal or problem you faced depending on the question that is being asked.
Action: Describe the actions you took to solve the problem and what you did to achieve it. This part is key in highlighting your creativity and problem-solving skills. Employers want to see that you are good at working through problems and making thoughtful decisions.
Result: Finally, end by talking about the outcome of your actions. What impact did it have? Focus on the positive aspects and be honest and transparent in your answer. Highlight what you learned and took away from this experience.
During most interviews, employers usually have a copy of your resume at hand as a guide to draw questions from, so it’s a good idea to make sure you can speak to all the experiences you have down.
These questions may be phrased as:
Through these questions, employers want to learn more about your past experiences and how you may contribute to their company. As a college student, you may not have “real” job experience down, but that’s okay. In these cases, make sure to have a handful of other examples to pull from.
Practice being able to identify transferable skills from your experiences. For example, volunteering or leading a club organization highlights a self-driven individual with strong leadership capabilities. Working with other people shows you can be a team player. Specific classes or projects you’ve worked on show direct examples of your technical skills. Try to talk about skills you have that match the role you are applying for.
At the end of every interview, it is more than likely that you will be asked if you have any questions of your own. You must always have questions prepared and use this time to ask thoughtful questions to further show your engagement and enthusiasm for the role.
Depending on the job you are applying for and what you’re interested in learning about, here are a few great questions you can ask your interviewer:
Asking these types of open-ended questions leads to casual conversation and can help connect you and the interviewer. Doing this will help end the interview with a strong and positive impression of yourself.
Interviewing doesn’t just start and end at the interview itself. Here is what you can do before and after to prepare yourself and stand out among the competition!
Learn as much as you can about the organization or company you are applying to before the interview. Research the company’s products, services, team members, company literature, and more. Read through their mission statement to see what you can draw from it and align with your own personal goals. You become a much stronger candidate if you can show you’ve taken an interest in getting to know more about the company.
Online platforms such as LinkedIn are a great tool to use to network. By reaching out to individuals who have worked or are currently working at the company, you can learn more about the job itself and what you can do to stand out. Use this opportunity to also try and get an idea of the interview format ahead of time. If you know the name of the person who is interviewing, you can look them up beforehand and try to find information, “common ground,” or something you can bring up during the interview to form a connection with them.
Review the job description again and find what matches your experiences, interests, and abilities to the job. Think about what you could contribute and why you are the best candidate for the position. Review your resume and make sure you can speak to each of the experiences you have listed down.
During the hiring process, some companies may ask you for a list of references. These may include your former managers, team members, professors, advisors, or other people who can speak to your qualifications and work performance. Developing a list of 3-5 references along with their preferred contact information can be practical.
As highlighted above, prepare for common interview questions you may be asked to the best of your ability. Having a list of experiences and soft skills to draw from makes it easier to answer a wide range of questions without being caught off-guard. Also, remember to prepare a list of your own questions to ask at the end.
After your interview, send your interviewer an email to thank them for their time. Show your continued interest in the position, and briefly state why you would be a good fit for the position. Feel free to mention something you didn’t have the chance to say in the interview or feel as if it would further express your candidacy. End the email by thanking them again and inquire about the processor’s next steps when you can expect to hear back.
Interviewing doesn’t have to be stressful. As long as you prepare well and show enthusiasm, you can definitely be on your way and have a chance of landing that internship. Here are a few of our final tips.
First impressions are important! A neat and clean appearance reflects on you as an individual and shows your confidence and professionalism – which is definitely important in the workplace.
It’s always smart to be 10-15 minutes early for an interview. This allows you to take the time to explore the facility and prepare for any problems you may face in getting to the location. It also shows employers that you are timely, well-prepared, and strongly interested in the position.
Having your resume or references on hand can be useful. Even if you have already sent it to the company beforehand, it is good to have a backup just in case or even for your own use if you want to refer to them during the interview.
Strong employees are good at understanding and paying attention to detail and the ability to effectively communicate their ideas. Remember to carefully pay attention during the interview and show that you are actively listening. Craft thoughtful responses and make sure you are answering all aspects of the question you are being asked.
Oftentimes, you will be asked about certain problems you’ve faced in the past and how you overcame them. Instead of covering up your mistakes, it is important to be honest and, instead, highlight what you learned from the experience. Don’t be scared if you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to. Be truthful and try to answer to the best of your ability.
Most employers know college students won’t have much job experience when it comes to internships, and that’s okay! Sometimes all they are looking for is a hard-working, motivated individual that is willing to learn more and contribute to the company. While interviews can be nerve-wracking, remember to take deep breaths, stay relaxed, and smile! Show employers your enthusiasm and prove to them that you have what it takes to succeed at the job.
These are just a few of the top interview questions for interns! Have you encountered any of these prompts before? Let us know in the comments below.
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