Acing your internship interview questions is not a difficult one. Once you can prepare for the questions you’d likely be asked and get the answers right, you’re well on your way to getting hired as an intern.
So, detailed in this article are the top possible 15 internship interview questions that the recruiter may ask you and the answers you can give when asked to stand out.
Read through and get insights into the right answers for your interview, and ace it on the spot!
An internship is a short learning work experience given by organisations to students, young people or other individuals to give them access to hands-on entry-level responsibilities and training in a particular career path or field. The idea is that it is as much a learning experience for the intern as it is work. The intern works on assigned projects, giving him a platform to learn on the job. In the course of the internship, he develops both soft and hard skills relevant to that career path. While some internship programs are paid, some are unpaid. However, internships sometimes lead to full-time job roles within and outside the organization.
Whenever companies put out internship vacancies and opportunities, they are particular about getting the right candidate. They do not just ask general interview questions but also ask questions that will help them get the right candidate. If you’re considering going for internship roles, here are some of the questions you’d likely be asked and how you can give accurate answers.
Tell me about yourself
Why are you interested in this internship?
What is your knowledge about our company?
What skills will you bring to the company?
What do you intend to gain from this internship?
Describe your coursework and how it correlates with this role.
What is your idea of teamwork and how well do you do in teams?
Describe an instance when you had to take the lead in a group and handle a difficult situation.
What type of work environment do you prefer?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
How do you handle pressure?
How do you plan to make an impact during your internship?
How do you prioritize your work?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Have you applied for an internship in any other organization?
This is most likely the first question you’d be asked in the interview and the goal of the interviewer is to get you to warm up for the conversation. So, it makes the question seem pretty easy to answer. However, you must find a balance between giving the answer as a warm-up question and also giving enough important details about yourself to get the interviewer interested in your personality.
To impress the interviewer, it’s best to keep your answer within these scopes; a little of your background, your field of study and school/career interest or field and enthusiasm or reason for wanting to intern with them. Here’s an example:
“My name is Ruth. Born and raised in Capetown, I had to move to Pretoria for my university degree in Marketing at the University of Pretoria. I’m particularly interested in the relationship between being able to talk to a customer about a product and finally getting them to use the product. This actually led to my interest to get a degree in and practise Marketing. So when I heard of this internship opportunity, I was excited as it would give me an opportunity to put to use the knowledge I’ve gathered and also learn from the best.”
The internship opportunity you are interviewing for is probably not the only one you came across. The company when asking this question wants to know what it is about the company or opportunity that attracted you to them. To give a convincing answer, talk about the career you want to do in the future, make mention of what you know you can learn from them and the skills you can develop, and ensure to drop in a compliment to the organization.
Let’s see a good example
“I am looking to build a career as a marketing analyst in the SAAS niche in particular. For this, I am interested to see how a leading marketing firm like ABC company conducts its research to stay ahead of the market competition at every turn. I also want an opportunity to put my predictive analysis and salesforce skills to the test so I can learn as much as possible from experts in the field. I hope that this will help me gain relevant experience and also help me identify areas I need to focus on in the future.”
In a situation where the organization is offering a paid internship, be sure to stay away from that topic or bring it up as a reason for applying.
It would be absurd to walk into any internship interview without taking the time to research the company. Not just what they do, but also their values, prospects, achievements, employers and even competitors. This is your first shot at letting the recruiter know that you are hardworking and you can take initiative without being told what to do. Here is an example of a good answer.
“ABC company is one of the top 20 public relations companies in South Africa. With the evolution of public relations in the past two decades, customer awareness and availability have greatly increased the competition. This is why your company stands out amongst competitors. I am aware that the company recently won another award in addition to the 4 previous PR Agency awards. Your positive and tactful campaigns have helped build credible and healthy brand images for many of your clients. I am certain that my internship here if I am hired, would open me up to so much learning in the organization.”
In as much as the internship will provide you with an opportunity to learn, the recruiter will also want to know what you have to offer to the company. When answering this question, concentrate on your hard skills and also a few soft skills. Be sure to include your willingness to learn while replying to the recruiter. For example,
“In addition to my enthusiasm to bring creative ideas to the company and learn while at it, I already have writing experience. I am skilled in SEO writing with published articles to show for it. Also, I am good with designs, particularly with photoshop and I’m also good at making research. I believe these skills would be useful to me, as would my communication, teamwork and leadership skills.”
You are not just getting the internship opportunity to work, you are mainly there to learn. The recruiter by asking this wants to know your eagerness to learn. He does this because your eagerness to learn will determine how you’ll respond to tasks, and how fast you’ll grow while the internship runs. For example,
“My expectations involve being able to learn how to identify business problems, how to choose strategies to address these issues, and how to plan and execute the tactics needed to achieve goals. By learning this, I can gain real-world experience of what it takes to drive business operations forward.”
Interviewers will usually ask this question when it is your first role. The idea is to ascertain your level of understanding of your course of study and how you believe it applies to the role. Mention relevant points and how it connects with the opportunity and you will do just great with your answer. For example,
“Three major courses that helped my understanding of marketing are business-to-business marketing, public relations and marketing research. I learned that marketing has multiple components, all of which are instrumental for business development. I am certain that this knowledge can help me succeed in this internship and can be of assistance while working with other departments.”
You will be working in and with a team throughout the period of your internship. Your interviewer would want to know if you would be a good fit in the company and if your idea of teamwork aligns with that of the company. To give this answer, you must emphasize your ability to collaborate in teams and still do exceptionally in them. You can use a practical instance if you have any. Here is a good example,
“I believe that teams are very essential to achieve any set target or goal as an organization. Also, communication is an integral part of teamwork as it helps everyone on the team be on the same page. I am great at not only communicating but also collaborating in teams to ensure that goals and objectives are met. This helps me come up with creative ways to ensure that the team is up and doing. For example, for our last class project, I created a system that enables the team to give a weekly update on activities through Google Spreadsheets, so we could track our activities. I also try to ensure that I do not drop the ball at any point because I am aware of the impact it could have on the team.”
Recruiters always want people who are solution driven to be on their teams. This would mean that you must have an understanding of leadership and how you can influence your team to take the right steps. Always be sure to include the thought process that produced the action and the results recorded thereafter. Here’s an example that will impress the interviewer,
“The pet shelter I volunteered at in Bloemfontein needed to reach new audiences and increase awareness of adoption opportunities. However, funds were limited. I rallied volunteers, identified that the shelter wasn’t using social media or posting frequent blog content, and mapped out a content and social media marketing plan that could be implemented within the budget using free marketing tools and platforms. As a result, awareness and adoptions increased by 10 per cent within three months.”
The goal of this question is to simply be sure that you would fit into the organization’s culture. When answering this question, first be honest about the work environment you thrive in and how it makes you productive. Also, study the environment of the company you are applying for and what the culture could be like to ensure you tailor your answer to fit the environment. For example, a banking internship may not make room for a laid-back and free environment.
Here’s an example
“I can mostly adjust to any environment, however, I am more productive in a fast-paced environment guided by deadlines. Environments like this help keep me challenged and motivated as I work towards meeting deadlines. It also helps me structure my time and ensure I am neither micromanaged nor slacking at my job at any point.”
When answering this question, be honest with your answers but also try to put your best foot forward. Talk more about your strengths and how they align with the company. This is because your interview will likely make a personality assessment of you with the things you say. They would want to know what areas of strength you have and how you can be of help to the organization. Also, when communicating your weaknesses, be sure to include an action step towards dealing with or managing the weaknesses.
“One of my strengths is my ability to pay attention to details. This helps me ensure to execute tasks with little or no supervision. Also, I am good at being proactive and taking responsibility/initiative always. I always tend to find solutions to challenges without having to bore my supervisor. However, I'm not very good at communication. I tend to not communicate in clear terms when I have a challenge or when I’m executing a task. I’m currently working on this by setting up a personal daily reporting system. This makes me remind myself of the things I must communicate at all times, whether I feel like it or not.”
The work can get crazy and your recruiter knows this. Answering this question proves to the employer if you are a good fit for the organization or not. This is even more necessary in an establishment that is filled with so many activities and tasks to be handled at a time.
“I am able to soak in pressure and work. This is because I know that work can be demanding at times and there may be deadlines and standards to meet. So, I always try to know where the pressure is coming from and why to enable me to deal with it and move on with my tasks. I keep all these in mind because I understand that sometimes, pressure is just what you need to step up in growth.”
The underlying question here is actually how you intend to make a positive impact during your internship period. Organizations can have lots of interns over time, but getting this question right lets the interviewer know if you are the candidate to be kept even after the period of internship. This is how you can answer this question
“I intend to identify key areas of opportunities that can enhance the operational process of the organization. I’ll map out the necessary resources to achieve organizational goals. I’ll also rally a team, delegate tasks, procure resources, identify key performance indicators and create a schedule to make sure that each tactic is being achieved in a timely manner.”
In some organizations, internship work can be demanding. It may be required of you to carry out a variety of functions. The recruiter wants to be certain that you can get your job done in the midst of other distractions, and still deliver quality work. With this question, he also wants to know if you understand the importance of paying attention to whatever primary responsibilities you will be assigned. Finally, he would also want to know that you will be able to ask questions when need be, especially if you have to be sure which of the tasks you should prioritize per time.
“Whenever I have tasks to do, I always try to find out which is priority per time. This is because I’m aware that priorities can change depending on the goal that is being pursued. Then, I do my best to ensure that I follow the tasks based on the priority list beginning from the first, and working all the way down. I also try not to jump from task to task, but to finish each task before moving to the next.”
Remember that certain internship positions are tickets to full-time positions in some organizations. Sometimes, recruiters ask this question to know if there is a possibility of you sticking around for a while. Whale answering this question, you must keep this in mind, and ensure that your answers are in line with pursuing a promising career within the industry.
“In five years, I want to complete the internal training program for my position. I’ve read about it on your website, and I think it’s a fabulous program. Not only would I get all the training for my role, but I would be on the fast track to becoming a project manager. That’s my top career goal. Plus, my ideal path would include working in Johannesburg for a couple of years. I understand that it’s of value to you to find people prepared to do so.”
Most times, people have opportunities for internships in different institutions, especially students. If you have applied for internships in other organizations, be honest enough to mention that while expressing your desire and excitement to get the current opportunity. This is how you can answer,
“Yes, I interviewed for an internship with XYZ company sometime last week. However, this does not affect my enthusiasm to work with your company because I am aware of the training and growth that will happen to me here in the course of the internship.”
That’s it. The questions and answers you should know to prepare for your interview. Once you are able to ace these questions, you are already on your way to getting an internship role in any organization you are interviewing with.
Are there some questions you’d like more clarity on? You can drop it in the comment section and we’ll be sure to help you!