Why do I need to have an internship interview?
So, you sent out your cover letter, resume, follow up email every Thursday at 11:35 am looking for a response, several hours spent waiting for a reply, phone call, courier pigeon, something, and then suddenly you have been contacted regarding an interview. About time, right?!! Time to party now! But wait, why do they want to interview me for an internship? So, yes you guessed it – even for an internship you have to go through a formal interview.
There can be some confusion sometimes among candidates about how to approach an internship interview… Like why do I need to interview for an internship?! Good question, because after all the position is only short term, meaning that less is expected of you in an internship than would be in a full-time position. Well, that is simply not true. Plain and simple. This is because an employer sees an intern as a future investment – investing in their development to becoming a potential future full-time employee. Therefore, they expect the most professional of professional standards…. And this is where the internship interview creeps in. This is how employers and interviews can judge a candidate and whether they are qualified enough, experienced enough and indeed the right fit…Not a typical plain sailing idea.
What to expect from an internship interview?
In many cases – especially with big graduate recruiters and large organisations, the internships application process will be the exact same as that in their graduate programmes. This varies company-to-company, of course, depending on their needs and what type of candidate they are looking for.
Example internship interviews include:
Consultancy firm Accenture conducts a HR interview first and then successful candidates from this are then invited for a business interview.
Auditing company PwC invites candidates for the internship interviews to a breakfast presentation the day before their interview. In addition, has a short examination for candidates using a short case study challenge. Testing the candidates abilities and problem solving skills on the spot.
For more informal internships a simple chat with the boss may suffice to get an idea what you are looking for as the interviewee and for the employer to understand you more as a candidate and if you are the right fit for their company culture.
What to wear to an internship interview?
Shorts, sneakers OR flip flops and maybe a nice Hawaiian shirt… NOT! Here’s the thing, it’s difficult to know what to wear to an interview, especially when it’s for an internship. But, regardless… always dress to impress.
Trendy Vs Classic
Take note of how people dress in your target company or similar companies. Different industries have their own dress codes, and you Could get away with more creative, trendy and indeed out there clothing choices….. Depending on who you are preparing to work for. In most tech companies, creative companies like graphic design or advertising agencies could allow for this. Whereas in financial firms, law firms and most public sector departments a classic suit style, conservative look is what’s needed.
Plan ahead: Always having that one classic interview outfit in your closet, makes you prepared for an unexpected interview, regardless of when it occurs.
How to prepare for an internship interview?
First things first, preparation time… You can prepare yourself for the interview by selecting appropriate interview attire beforehand. Then comes the less fun stuff, that you can’t blast ‘walking on sunshine’ on. Before the internship interview, you must research the company you are applying to intern at beforehand. You might think this is common sense, but many people either don’t research the company properly or at all before their interview. Things like, what the company does, what your role involves and the company’s ethos/culture are all very important and good things to look research… Not photos of the company’s 2006 embarrassing Christmas party. Just use those for your own entertainment.
When interviewing for an internship at an organisation, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions for the interviewer regarding the internship itself, the company and some alternative questions on what you can expect from your learning, etc.
As the job interview comes to an end, it’s your turn! The one final question you can definitely expect to be asked is “have you any questions for me?” Your interviewer will expect you to have some sort of question or inquiry. Not asking any questions is like giving a wrong answer. As it comes across that you are unprepared or disinterested in the role. So it’s important to have some questions ready to ask the interviewer.
Good questions include:
“How much travel is expected?”
“Would you like a list of references?”
“How would my internship benefit from my learning?”
In addition, a good thing to do is to note something you’ve seen in your job description or that the interviewer said during the interview to ask at the end. This demonstrates a keen desire to understand as much as possible regarding the internship and indeed prior research before the interview.
Questions you should avoid include:
“What does this company do?” – if you ask this question, please just excuse yourself from the interview.
“How much annual leave should I expect to get?”
“So, did I get the job?” – don’t be impatient. A better question to ask is “When should I expect to hear back from you?”
There is a right and a wrong question to ask. This is why it is critical you prepare questions beforehand so that you ask the right questions, that leaves a good impression on you.
An important thing to do before an internship interview is to bring a copy of your resume with you, incase the interviewer does not have a copy in hand. Last but certainly not least, practice answering interview questions so as to prepare yourself and gain confidence before the interview.
What are some internship interview questions?
General internship interview questions
Your internship interview is your chance to show the hiring manager what you’re capable of and what value you’ll bring to the company. Each sector has its own typical questions, but almost every interviewer also asks about more general topics. How many of these questions are asked highly depends on the interview length. The average interview length is around 45 minutes. Depending on the company where you apply for an internship, a second interview will also be held.
These are some general interview questions and how you can answer them:
Q: “Tell us who you are.”
A: Your answer should be a sixty second pitch in which you describe your achievements and your motivations, the combination of which has all lead up to the interview you’re at.
Q: “Why should we hire you?”
A: This is your moment to show the interviewer how you can add value. Even as an inexperienced intern, you can contribute through your specific knowledge on a certain topic, creative ideas or your planning skills. Link what makes you different to the challenge the company is face with and use this to answer the question.
Q: “How do you handle failure or a crisis?”
A: The interviewer doesn’t expect you to actually be handling crises at work (you’re an intern after all). However, they are curious to hear how you react when something goes wrong. Do you freeze? Do you try to fix the problem by yourself? Or will you immediately ask for help. Be honest about your true reaction and explain how after all you can still handle the situation well.
Going for a finance internship? It’s important you understand the kind of questions you will be asked and how to best prepare for them.
Before the interview day (or a few hours before the interview itself, up to you) brush up on your technical finance skills and concept. Before the interview refresh yourself with common finance problems or processes with which you could be asked or indeed tested on.
Finance internship interview questions:
“Could you elaborate more on your organisational values and culture?”
“Will the work I do day-to-day be a series of menial tasks or real, substantive work?”
“By the end of the internship, what kind of skills or abilities would you expect to gain?”
Going for an internship interview in Human Resourcing? Well then there will be an expectation that you should be interview savvy. Of course, that’s not the case, but you will need to know how to answer these questions, that are commonly asked in internship interviews for HR.
Human Resourcing interview questions:
“Tell me about yourself” – sounds like a generic, stand alone question all interviewers ask in allllll interviews, regardless to what it’s for. True. However, working HR requires you to have good people skills and in turn good social skills. Therefore, this question in your internship interview will be reviewed and your response will be noted and reviewed. So, no pressure.
“Give me an example or situation in which….” – again, in HR, the interviewer will want to understand examples about how you overcome problems you have previously encountered. HR is about receiving issues and situations that you will be expected to help the organisation overcome both internally and externally. If you have never encountered a problem you have had to overcome or can’t think of any… that’s okay too! It’s more about the approach and how you would go about solving issues.
“Let’s go over your resume” – yes, in a HR internship interview you will be asked questions on your resume. In fact, your interview started before you even entered the room. As your resume , how it’s structured and the relevant information displayed will be reviewed. In addition, with HR roles, including HR is dependent on references from others in the industry.
Going for an internship interview in computer science? Except more than just an interview. Instead, expect sessions in which the interviewer wants to know less about you as a person, but instead more about your programming skills, experience and education to date. What they need to know about you as a person will be reflected in the answers you give.
Computer science interview questions:
“What are your preferred programming languages and why?”
“Describe a situation academically or in previous work experience in which you had to take a risk and what was the outcome?”
“What do you do when you are faced with an obstacle in a project? Give an example and explain your process”
Going for an internship interview in Marketing? Then it is important to understand that these interviews are in so many ways unique to the company and no two interviews will ever be the same. Depending on the company and their requirements the interview and what they will ask will be different company-to-company. Organisations interviewing candidates for marketing internships want the most enthusiastic and passionate candidates. They want interns who are prepared to go the extra mile with regards their role and the creativity they can bring to the role and showing initiative on a day-to-day basis. Simple.
So, to help you in your marketing internship interview, we have prepared the most commonly asked questions you should expect to be asked:
Operational specific questions, such as;
“Why did you choose your field of study?”
“How has your overall academic experience prepared you for this internship position?”
Role-specific questions, such as;
“Who do you think our customers are?”
“What do you believe is the primary difference between our sales activity and marketing activity?”
“Are you familiar with any market analysis software? Mention some tools you have used before”
So, basically if you are applying for an internship in accounting, it’s important you understand that accounting interns take part in the day-to-day operations of the accounting department(s) of the organisation. Successful candidates will need to demonstrate that they have the ability to adapt, be professional, responsible and eager to learn.
Below are common questions interviewers ask for accounting internships:
“What is the most challenging aspect of accounting for you and why?”
“Have you ever had experience of using bookkeeping software or MS office?”
“Could you explain to me how your academics will help in your performance on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis of this internship?”
Preparing to go for an engineering internship? If so, it is good to note that engineering internship interviews are similar to full time engineering roles interviews. No two are ever the same and the questions asked are specific to the role you are applying for, current affairs and domestic and global affairs that have had an impact on the company. To give you an idea on the type of questions asked, below we have gathered examples engineers have been asked in their internship interview:
Intern Engineer at Rolls-Royce was asked by the interviewer:
“What do you know about Rolls-Royce”
“Tell me a recent global affair that affected Rolls-Royce’s as a business?”
Intern Engineer at Nissan was asked by the interviewer:
“From your own understanding, what current challenges does the automotive industry face?”
Intern Engineer at GE Oil & Gas was asked by the interviewer:
“What is your understanding of the current state of the oil industry?”
“Are you aware of any economic factors this has had on on GE Oil & Gas as an organisation?”
From the examples above, there is no right way to prepare for an Engineering internship interview. It is important to have a good understanding on the internship you are applying for, the company and the type of responsibilities expected from you. In addition, current and previous affairs that are or have been affecting the business.
Nailing the internship interview in fashion is very difficult to do. This is because, unlike other internship interviews, you have to go beyond just recalling your duties and achievements from previous experience or academically. Instead, the internship interview is more about how to demonstrate a passion to work for the company as an intern.
Below are common questions interviewers ask for Fashion internships:
How do you work:
“What are you looking for in your position as an intern?”
“Why do you want to work in fashion?”
“Can you clearly describe your main strengths and weaknesses?”
What you know:
“What makes you passionate about our brand?”
“Who are some famous photographers, designers, fashion writers, stylists that inspire you?”
“What’s exciting to you regarding the fashion industry?”
What are you like outside of work:
“What interests you outside of fashion?”
“Which social media platforms are you most active on?”
These are some common interview questions for a legal internship that you should prepare for before meeting with a company:
“Why did you attend law school?”
“What professional skills do you have that we should know about?”
“What excited you the most about being a legal intern at our company?”
“What has drawn you to the legal field?”
“What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years in the legal field?”
How to pass an internship interview?
In any internship interview is your opportunity to market yourself. It is the reason you prepared and sent out all of those resumes, applications, cover letters, pesky emails – you name it!! Once you have the interview, it is your job to create an excellent first impression. That’s easier said than done though. But we have some tips on how you can just do that:
- Be prompt
- Be yourself
- If the internship interview is in person, ensure you start with strong nonverbal behaviour (such as a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the interview… in a non-creepy way though).
A good first impression will set the stage for a successful interview.
In addition, understand the question before you ever answer it. It is OK to ask the interviewer to clarify their question or to repeat the question. You want to know what the interviewer is looking for before you go ahead and assume that you have the correct answer.
How long does the internship interview last?
Really, the (first) internship interview will last between 15 – 35 minutes. Depending on the number of candidates being interviewed the interviewer may take more time to ask certain questions. In addition, the duration of the interview is also dependent on the internship you are applying for and what the interviewer needs to know about you as a candidate.
What’s the process after an internship interview?
So, while it is vital to make a good first impression and nail the internship interview process, what you do after the interview is important as well. Follow up your initial interview with a mature and professional approach to establish yourself as a responsible and reliable prospect.
Thank you email
Immediately following your internship interview, write a letter of thanks to the interviewer(s). It is important to reiterate your interest in the internship opportunity, whilst also thanking the interviewer for their time. Never extend from this. Do not use this email as a way to provide information you forgot to provide or mention. It will not be used when considering you as a candidate. Keep the thank you email short and sweet.
If you received your internship interview through a university contact or careers advisor, contact the person of interest to let them know how your internship interview went! Don’t leave them hanging. They may have received feedback from the employer, which they can pass along to you. They can also contact the employer and gauge the company’s interest in you.. Sweet deal, right?!
Okay, after the results come out, you have to be gracious with how it goes whether you get the internship or not. If you are accepted for the internship, you should express a thank you, whether it’s through an email, writing, whatever. It is important to make the hiring manager aware of your appreciation.
However, if you have not been selected for the internship on this occasion, time to keep that “chin you!” While you are disappointed at not attaining the internship, use it as a learning opportunity. You applied for this internship to learn, right? So, it is important to contact the person who interviewed you and ask them to explain through constructive feedback, what you could have done to improve upon your interview. Not only will this approach provide valuable feedback for how you approach your next internship interview, but it will also show your character and possibility position you for other opportunities within the company.
An internship provides an opportunity to get hands-on experience in a line of work you want to pursue as a career path. However, getting an internship is another story entirely. Good internships at companies that can increase your knowledge and experience are few and far between. Therefore, getting into a good internship is very competitive. Not to mention difficult. If you make it to the interview process, you should take confidence in this and nail the interview. It is important to be prepared and confident going into your internship interview. Whilst also being mindful on how this internship will benefit you.
Is there a difference between real-life and online interviews?
Yes there are a few differences you need to take into account when it comes to doing an online interview. For more information, read the guide on how to rock your video interview.
How do I overcome my nerves before the interview?
First of all, a good preparation is key to reducing your nerves before the interview. Still nervous? Then read about 7 tips for beating your nerves before an interview.
Which questions should I prepare for?
Depending on the industry in which you’re applying for, there are several questions that come back every time. These general questions are listed in this article.