internship interview questions

15 Internship Interview Questions You Must Be Ready For

There are a number of internship interview questions that give you a great opportunity to impress your interviewer. Some are straightforward, others are tricky, but they’re all important!

This list of common interview questions for interns will help you prepare for your big day, and walk away happy with the outcome.

1. Can You Tell Us a Bit About Yourself?

Here’s a pretty common internship interview question that often comes up at the start of your conversation. It seems like a simple baseline query, but there’s more depth to this question than most realize.

Interviewers ask this question for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a way to learn more about you and your career goals. It can also highlight your priorities, which might impact whether you get the internship or not.

Secondly, this question provides some insight into your communication skills. It shows the interviewer how well you convey ideas and contribute to the conversation.

How to Answer It

The best way to answer this internship interview question is to talk about your background a bit while showing enthusiasm for the position you’re trying to get. Keep the details short and sweet (under a couple of minutes). Most importantly, keep it relevant to the company and job.

You can talk about your education and experience, but don’t go too far off-topic. The goal is to communicate clearly and add to the conversation in meaningful ways.

2. Tell Us About a Time When You Had to Lead

Some assume that questions about leadership only come up when you’re interviewing for managerial positions. That’s not always the case. This question can come up if you’re trying to land an internship as well!

Why is this asked? The interviewer is trying to determine if you’re someone with a natural sense of drive. Are you the type of person who will step up when the company needs you, or will you wait until someone asks you to do something?

How you answer will say a lot about your character. It provides some valuable insight into what you can bring to the table.

How to Answer It

The best policy is to be truthful! Answer with a real example of when you stepped up to the plate. 

This is a common question for interns that you should prepare for ahead of time. There’s a good chance you had many moments that qualify and highlight your initiative. However, you might have to think hard to formulate the appropriate response.

Try talking about instances when you led a group project or took action after seeing something that needed changing. You don’t have to be in a leadership role to become a leader. Think about your past academic and work experiences, and you’ll likely come up with several examples.

3. What Do You Hope to Gain from This Internship?

Believe it or not, this is a question that many people get wrong. When an interviewer basically asks you why you’re there, it can catch you off guard and make you provide an answer that comes off as disingenuous.

The goal here is to understand your goals and priorities. Internships are as entry-level as you can get, but companies still want to hire people who will grow within the company. Interns who eventually transition to full-time positions are easily moldable and can hone their skills to support the organization’s bottom line.

Interviewers ask this question to potential interns because they want to know that you’re here for more than just college credits or as a stepping stone to something else.

How to Answer It

The best way to answer this internship interview question is to show your passion for the profession. Talk about the skills you want to develop and how the company could play a part in your future. It doesn’t hurt to pay them a couple of compliments!

You don’t have to commit to a long-term stay, but it’s not a good idea to say that the internship is a means to another end. Focus on how the company will help you grow and the things you can learn during your tenure.

4. Do You Prefer to Work Alone or With a Team?

Hearing this common internship interview question can leave you a bit unsure of the best way to proceed. It’s a bit of a catch-22. The response to your answer can go either way, depending on how you answer.

Clearly, the goal here is to learn more about your work preference. Interviewers want to know that you’re a team player while also capable of working on your own when necessary. So, what’s the right answer?

How to Answer It

This internship question is a bit tricky. You don’t want to say that you prefer one over the other unless you know the work environment. Even then, there’s likely more variation than you realize.

Most jobs require a bit of both, so your best bet is to highlight the advantages of working on your own and in a team. Pull from real-life experience and mention the benefits of both work styles.

5. What Kind of Work Environment Do You Prefer?

All companies have a specific work culture and environment. Some are more strict and professional, while others are more laid-back and foster a creative atmosphere.

Interviewers ask potential interns this question because they want to ensure that you’re a good fit. You’re potentially going to be dropped into the middle of this brand-new work environment. They want assurance that you will flourish.

How to Answer It

Here’s another common internship interview question that might require some reflection and preparation ahead of time.

Think about the types of settings where you succeed most. Are you more productive with loose deadlines and relaxed environments, or do you thrive in fast-paced offices? It’s always good to be truthful and explain why you prefer your chosen setting and how it impacts productivity.

Of course, you can also cater your response to the company. Again, pull from your past experiences to make that connection and explain how you will do well in the position.

6. What are Some of Your Long-Term Professional Goals?

This is a pretty common question in interviews for internships positions. Once again, the interviewer wants to know that you’re there for the right reasons.

Companies ideally don’t want to hire people who are looking for nothing more than college credits. They’re interested in setting the stage for potential permanent positions in the future. At the very least, they want to foster professionals that support the industry moving forward.

How to Answer It

Think about this question before you get into the interview. It’s alright if you’re not 100-percent sure of your future goals yet, but we recommend thinking about this a little bit before you get asked.

Mention your education thus far and talk about how this position will play in helping you inch closer towards your goals.

7. Teach Me Something

Talk about a question that throws you off your game! You may be surprised to hear this question come during an internship position, but it serves a couple of different purposes.

First, it tests how you react to something you didn’t prepare for! Interviewers know that applicants prepare hours for this moment. They want to see you in your element without the crazy preparation.

Secondly, they use this internship interview question to see how you can motivate others. It’s a test to see how effective you are at helping your peers succeed.

How to Answer It

One thing you shouldn’t do is brush this question off!

Think of a skill you’re proficient in and teach the interviewer as much as you can. Stick with something fairly approachable that you can do without getting physical. It could be an odd fact or part of a hobby you’ve had for years.

Whatever the case may be, teach the lesson thoroughly and have patience.

8. What’s a Project You’re Proud of?

This interview question for interns presents you with an opportunity to brag a little. Its purpose is two-fold. 

First, it provides more insight into your capabilities. Most people are proud of their finest work, so it’s a great way to highlight the pinnacle of your work.

The second reason interviewers ask this question is to see your passion. Internship interviews can be scary. Many applicants over-prepare, making it sound like they’re reading off a script.

With this question, you can speak about a more natural topic that you’re genuinely happy to discuss.

How to Answer It

Think about a project you truly are proud of doing. Be truthful and share your pride!

If possible, highlight your skills and bring it back to the topic at hand. However, don’t force the connection or say things you think the interviewer wants to hear. Be as authentic as you can.

9. Why are You Interested in This Internship?

Here’s another question that will show your true intentions a bit. 

Interviewers want to know you’re here to learn and support the company in any way that you can. Interns who are only there to earn some college credits or put a line on their resume aren’t the most appealing applicants. Companies ideally want to work with interns who will genuinely grow from this experience.

How to Answer It

The best way to answer this common internship interview question is to discuss your motivations. Describe your goals and the experiences that led you to this point. You can go over your studies and mention how this internship will help you in your endeavors moving forward.

10. What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

The dreaded “strengths and weaknesses” question! You’ve likely encountered this question at some point in your past. It’s an interview staple. There’s a reason why it comes up so often (even during internship interviews).

Simply put, it says a lot about who you are! Plus, it’s a challenge that puts you on the spot and tests your communication skills. 

This interview question for interns requires some careful thought as it can go in many directions. When you focus on your strengths too much, you might come off as arrogant. Meanwhile, focusing on weaknesses makes you seem too humble and gives the interview plenty of reasons to overlook your application.

How to Answer It

There’s an easy way to think about this internship interview question. Your strengths should revolve around the skills you need to do the job at hand. It can also be the characteristic that sets you apart.

For the weakness, try to choose a skill that’s not too prevalent in the position you’re trying to land. Alternatively, you can go with a more weakness and highlight the strides you’re making to turn it into a strength.

11. Walk Us Through a Notable Project You’ve Completed. What Did You Learn, and What Would You Do Differently?

Earlier, we talked about a question that’s meant to let you brag and talk about your finest work. It focused on the end product. On the other hand, this question is all about the process and figuring out how you work in a real-world setting.

It’s easy to talk yourself up and only mention the good things you’ve done. But when you go into detail about how you do something? That’s how the interviewer understands your work process and how you go about completing projects.

How to Answer It

Once again, prepare for this intern interview question ahead of time if possible. The key is to be detailed. Instead of saying what you accomplished, tell a story about how you got there.

Be specific and mention the skills you need to succeed in the internship. Did you work with others, or were you in a leadership position? Take the opportunity to explain your skills.

Also, don’t shy away from the last part of the question. Knowing where you could have done things differently shows growth and the ability to reflect on your work.

12. What’s Something You Recently Had to Learn from Scratch, and How Did You Approach It?

Internship positions are about learning and evolving. No company wants to hire someone inflexible and set in their ways. They want an intern open to learning new skills and will go above and beyond to get there.

This question is a great way to determine if you fit the bill.

How to Answer It

There are many ways to answer this interview question. As always, be truthful and don’t embellish. However, you might have to think about how to make your past experiences fit.

Consider turning to group projects and your educational experiences. Maybe you decided to learn a new skill for extracurriculars. Or, you might have taken a class outside of your field because it interested you.

Whatever the case may be, talk about it! Discuss how you got there and the challenges you faced. Then, highlight how you overcame those hurdles and succeeded.

13. What’s a Significant Challenge You’ve Had to Face, and How Did You Overcome It?

So many people spend their time during internship interviews trying to portray themselves in the best possible light. That’s perfectly normal, but interviewers also want to see that you’re self-aware. People who can identify challenges and mistakes show a great attitude and are adaptable enough for the internship experience.

How to Answer It

When you answer this internship interview question, be truthful. Don’t try to sugar-coat things or act as you’ve never made a mistake before. That’s the gut instinct of many, but it goes against this question’s entire purpose.

You don’t have to harp on the negative aspects of the challenge. Instead, focus on what you learned. How did the experience shape you moving forward, and how has it stuck with you?

14. What Makes You Unique?

This is another common question that can be a little tricky to answer. It’s a bit unorthodox, but interviewers use it for several different reasons.

Again, it’s all about testing your communication skills. Most applicants don’t prepare an answer for this question, so it puts them on the spot. You have to think fast and answer honestly.

Another reason you might hear it is because the interviewer wants to know why you are different from everyone else. What can you bring to the table that no one else can?

How to Answer It

Answer truthfully and focus on your unique skills. Don’t go too far off-topic. Keep your answer related to the internship position and the company itself.

Think about your extracurriculars or experience outside of school. Maybe you have previous jobs that give you more insight into this field than others. Alternatively, you could have unique skills from classes that most students don’t take.

Highlight those differences and talk about how you stand out.

15. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

This common interview question for interns usually comes at the end of the interview. Some view it as a concluding question to wrap things up. While that is sometimes the case, that doesn’t mean that you have to ignore it. Always have questions ready to ask!

When you hear “do you have any questions for me” that means interviewers want to know if you’re engaged in the interview or if they missed anything. It shows genuine interest in the company and position.

Plus, it’s an opportunity to get answers from a professional in the field you’re interested in entering. Use this time to your advantage!

How to Answer It

You can ask questions pertinent to the position. For example, you can ask about the company, your supervisor, or the team you’ll be working with.

It’s also a great time to gain insight into the industry. Ask how the interviewer started working for the company and any memorable experiences they had. You can also ask about expectations and what a successful candidate brings to the table.

Those questions all show initiative and interest, which is always a plus.

Conclusion

These common internship interview questions should be a top priority when it comes to your preparation. Some of them might be trickier than others, but view them as an opportunity to stand out and impress. 

Now take some time to think about (and recite) how you would answer each of them if you want to land the internship you’re after!

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