Top 10 Internship Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Students or recent graduates may apply for an internship to build their experience and exposure to the corporate world. This opportunity allows you to apply your existing skills and learn from experienced colleagues who can act as mentors throughout your career. Preparing answers to common internship interview questions can increase your chances of getting hired. In this article, we guide you on how to prepare for an internship interview and list the top internship interview questions recruiters ask with examples of successful answers.

Related: What Is an Internship and How To Get One Successfully

How to prepare for an internship interview?

Preparing for an internship interview in advance can give you an edge over other job candidates. This is especially crucial for students and young professionals who have little to no interview experience. Gaining advice from seasoned professionals and dedicating time to improving your interview skills can help you feel more confident during the job-seeking process. The following is a step-by-step guide detailing how to prepare for an internship interview:

1. Research the company

Familiarise yourself with the company's mission and operations by browsing through their company website, social media channels and their latest press articles. Developing a deep understanding of their goals can help you tailor your answers so that you appear a likely match for their needs. Recruiters find candidates who are knowledgeable about their company extremely impressive.

2. Reflect on your own skills and experience

While you might have little work experience to highlight in your interview, you can share stories that demonstrate transferrable skills. Make a mental list of your academic achievements and extracurricular activities that reveal your unique talents. For example, mentioning your involvement in a sports team emphasises your ability to communicate and collaborate in a team dynamic.

3. Gather some interview questions

Gather some information on the common interview questions that recruiters ask interns. Look for generic, behavioural, situational awareness and other interview questions related to your profession. Talk to your school's career department or other seasoned professionals about what questions you should prepare to answer. When you can anticipate your interview environment, you can better present your candidacy to the hiring manager.

4. Conduct a mock interview

Rehearse your answers with a friend or in front of a mirror. Simulating an interview setting can help you create a realistic mental picture of what to expect. Try to pay attention to your body language, such as maintaining eye contact, a positive tone of voice and a good posture, so that it becomes second nature to you on your interview day. Avoid memorising a script so that you can adapt to questions that are worded differently.

5. Stay organised by planning ahead

It's best to remain calm on your interview day. Thus, plan your outfit and transportation the day before. Adhere to standard business formal conventions for your attire. This way, you can ensure you aren't underdressed for the occasion. Remember to check your bus schedule so that you can leave on time. Plan to arrive at the interview 15 minutes early so that you prepare yourself mentally.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

Top 7 internship interview questions

Here are the top seven internship interview questions with example answers for you to reference:

1. What do you hope to gain from this internship?

Employers want interns who are intentional with their actions, therefore, creating goals for your internship can help you get the most out of this experience. Answering this question gives them some indication of how to support you during their internship program. It can also help them determine whether you could be a potential employee post-graduation.

Example: "Since data analysis is a highly technical job, I believe this internship gives me the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge I have cultivated at university. I hope to work closely with my coworkers to gain exposure to standard operating procedures to improve my competency in the science industry."

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Since companies pay for training their interns, they want to know whether it's worth investing in you. Sharing your five-year plan with an interviewer convinces them of your dedication to your chosen profession. As a young professional, it's essential to be bold yet realistic with your vision, as it illustrates your maturity and desire to keep innovating.

Example: "In five years, I see myself entering a managerial position in content marketing. Thus, I hope to enter your mentorship program so that I can collaborate with experienced leaders and learn to delegate tasks, motivate my coworkers and make tough decisions."

3. Tell us about a situation where you took the initiative

Initiative is a key leadership quality that emphasises your courage to voice your opinion and take action. Employers want interns who take an active role because they can benefit from your youthful take on current affairs and trends. In the long run, self-initiative can help companies detect problems early and identify lucrative opportunities.

Example: "Last semester, I worked as a research assistant for my chemistry professor to collect and record data for his latest research project. To be successful in this role, I had to handle data accurately and have great self-initiative to alert my professor to any anomalies in the data set. It took me a while to build the confidence to speak up. However, I believe the process has made me a more capable researcher."

4. Tell us about a time when you have successfully dealt with a difficult situation

You may encounter challenges during your internship. Thus, you need to reassure employers you can handle stress and overcome setbacks efficiently. Use the STAR , or situation, task, action and result, method in your answer to emphasise your ability to maintain your productivity even when issues arise.

Example: "**I've always been strong-willed in my work habits, thinking I can do everything. When working on group projects at university, my classmates often recognise my work ethic and give me more responsibility. One day, I realised the additional workload completely overwhelmed me. I voiced my concerns to my classmates, and they were more than understanding. They delegated the work more equally, which greatly reduced my stress. I can now admit when I need help and that there's no shame in asking for it."

5. What skills and knowledge do you think are essential for this internship?

This question is a great opportunity for aspiring interns to discuss their transferrable skills, even though they have little to no work experience. Identify the most relevant skills for the role, then share examples, such as your participation in extracurricular activities, to demonstrate your capability. This way, you help recruiters discover your potential.

Example: "This semester, I took a few modules in fashion design and I think my knowledge about the latest trends may be of use to you as you launch a new clothing collection. Outside of my studies, I also take part in a debating club, which has greatly improved my public speaking skills, a trait I believe could be valuable in this sales internship."

Related: Interviewing Skills To Ace a Job Interview

6. Tell us about a time you had to learn something new.

Earning a degree is only the first step to getting hired. However, you need to keep investing in your knowledge and skills to progress in your career. When approaching this question, illustrate your growth mindset to the interviewer with an example of how you invested in your own personal development:

Example: "In my free time, I enjoy making jewellery as gifts. I saw that my friends really appreciated my creations, so I tried selling them online. However, I didn't know how to create an e-commerce website, nor did I have the money to hire someone to make it for me. Thus, I decided to learn to code myself. I enrolled in a free programming class, developed my website and in the past year, I've made $35,000 in sales."

7. How have your extracurricular activities prepared you for this internship?

Employers want interns that are well-rounded professionals. Sharing about the activities you take part in outside of the workplace shows recruiters that you have more to offer them. Your interests and hobbies also suggest whether you would assimilate with their unique culture, a key characteristic of an effective hire.

Example: "Outside of my studies, I'm the team captain of a local football team. The sport has emboldened me to go outside of my comfort zone. Today, I know the importance of communicating with my teammates and encouraging them even when we lose a match. From my research, I found that your company has a football league of its own and I'd be excited to join you."

Other interview questions to consider

The following are three additional questions that interviewers ask to understand your work style and to test your knowledge of the industry:

  1. How do you prioritise tasks on a busy day?

  2. Give an example of a situation when you had to compromise your own goals for the sake of the team.

  3. Can you describe the major trends our industry has been going through over the last three years?

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