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9 Internship Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Are you nervous about your first interview and don't know what to expect? Here's a list of 9 internship interview questions and a guide on how to answer them to make yourself shine.

Mar 11, 2024
  • Student Tips
9 internship interview questions and how to answer them

After you've passed the CV screening stage, you typically receive an invitation to an interview where the hiring manager will assess your qualifications and suitability for the role.

It's crucial to research and practice your answers to appear confident, show enthusiasm, and stand out from the crowd. In this article, we'll help you prepare an answer to 9 common internship interview questions.

Note: Below are example answers from a hypothetical candidate applying for an internship in marketing. You should make yours more specific with your unique life and professional experiences.

1. "Tell me about yourself."

The first 10 minutes of the interview are usually reserved for introductions. Your interviewer will most likely go first to set the tone, so do your best to pick that up. It's a warm-up question that is meant to give the interviewer a sense of your personality and background.

If you don't know how to answer "Tell me about yourself", education and any relevant work or volunteer experience can serve as a reliable base. Discuss your latest milestones, projects connected to the internship, and some basic information about you. Keep in mind that this is not the space for your entire background and history - it should be laser-focused on what would make you look like the right candidate.

"I recently graduated with a degree in Marketing, and I'm very enthusiastic about applying the knowledge and skills I've gained to real-world projects. During my studies, I've developed a strong foundation in market research and digital marketing strategies.

I've interned at a marketing agency, where I helped develop social media campaigns and conducted market research. I also was part of a successful student marketing initiative that boosted engagement for a local charity event.

I'm excited about the opportunity to work with your team, learn from experienced professionals, and further grow in the industry."

2. "Why are you interested in this internship?"

It's very important to show enthusiasm in an interview. It differs from one hiring manager to another, but sometimes being passionate about the role and learning in general can matter more than hard skills.

For example, you could tell that you feel connected to the company's mission, or say you genuinely want to grow in the industry and explain how this internship can help you. To provide a specific response and express your interest, consider researching and taking notes about:

  • The full company name, and the specific division in which you’d be working
  • The name of your interviewer and any other present personnel (on LinkedIn, for example)
  • The industry that the company is in
  • General information on what products or services the company offers, or that you’d be working on
  • Company mission and culture

"I'm interested in this internship because it offers the opportunity to apply my academic knowledge to marketing projects within a company whose mission resonates with me, as well as gain new skills while working with an experienced team of professionals.

This internship aligns perfectly with my career goals and values, and I believe it will provide me with the platform to grow both personally and professionally."

3. "What are your strengths?"

While preparing answers to the internship interview questions, list your strengths and choose those most beneficial for the particular role. Be confident yet humble: internships are meant for you to acquire new skills, so it’s important to show that you're willing to learn.

Also, always remember to provide instances and context. Explain why you believe it's your strength, when it shined, and how it fits a certain position. For example, your internship includes working on a group project. Then you could say you have strong collaboration skills and prefer to work in groups and add specifics about how this helped you during your education or work project and affected the results.

"One of my strengths is adaptability. I believe it is a very important skill in the current fast-paced world where quick adjustments and flexibility are a must. Especially in a marketing role, where projects often require adjustments based on market trends, consumer behavior, or campaign performance.

For example, during a marketing project for a charity event, our initial strategy didn't bring the expected results. So, rather than sticking to the original plan, after analyzing the situation and discussing it with my team, I proposed alternative approaches. Being flexible and adapting to the circumstances allowed us to boost engagement."

Common interview questions: your greatest weakness

4. "What is your greatest weakness?"

Now that is a tricky question. Interviewers ask this to assess self-awareness and commitment to self-improvement. They also like to see how you handle answering tough questions.

Your response should still reflect the internship requirements and description. Since it's primarily a learning experience, you could discuss how this is an opportunity for you to grow and improve the skills you lack.

While honesty is appreciated, don't mention traits that can leave the wrong impression. It's not a good idea to say that you're always late, often make careless mistakes, or have issues with meeting deadlines. Here are a few examples of "good" greatest weaknesses:

  • Striving for perfection
  • Having difficulty delegating tasks
  • Struggling to say "no"
  • Being hesitant to advocate for yourself
  • Public speaking and shyness

"One trait that I'm working on is delegating tasks. I tend to take on too much and micromanage. However, recently I've been learning to trust other people's abilities more and let everyone have their part in a project. It's a work in progress, but I'm actively improving, and this internship is a great opportunity for me to learn how to encourage teamwork."

5. "What are your goals for this internship?"

This question is meant to help interviewers understand your expectations and how the internship fits your career plan. Hiring managers typically favor candidates that would benefit the most from training experience at their company.

It's good to have clear, realistic goals. Show that you're here to learn and grow professionally, and get closer to reaching your career dreams. However, if you haven't developed a plan yet, don't panic and make up one. In this case, it's best to be honest. You could emphasize your interest in the industry and how this internship is a great opportunity for you to figure out your professional goals.

"While I don't have a solid plan for my long-term career development at the moment, my goal for this internship is to explore different aspects of marketing and gain a deeper understanding of where my strengths and interests lie within the field.

I see this internship as a chance to learn, grow, and discover new passions. My focus right now is on experiencing as many different things as possible during this internship that will ultimately help me determine my future career goals."

6. "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

This can be an extension to the previous question and is usually asked to see if the candidate’s interests and plans align with the position and future growth opportunities, as well as if they’re committed to the field.

The best approach is to align your answer with the company’s trajectory or the skills and experiences the internship can offer, and, as usual, be genuine. For example, you could say that you want to eventually have a lead position in this team or company to show that you're motivated to grow and understand the role.

"In five years, I see myself still engaged in the marketing world, possibly as a digital marketer, brand manager, or market analyst at this company. I'll be putting my skills and experiences from this internship to use, and contributing to exciting projects and campaigns.

I hope to eventually take on leadership responsibilities, mentoring others and helping shape the direction of our marketing department. Overall, I'll be continuously learning and growing while making a positive impact in the field."

7. "Describe a challenge you've faced and how you overcame it."

The purpose of this type of internship interview questions is to understand how you act in different scenarios, in this case - how you handle pressure and assess your problem-solving skills and adaptability. It's preferable to talk about a challenge in a workplace (or during your studies) that is relevant to the internship.

Highlight how you approached finding a solution. Here you can use the STAR method: describe the Situation, state the Task you were working on, which Actions you took to tackle the challenge, and what the Result was.

Pro tip: some interviewers value independence, while others value asking questions and collaborating to solve problems. Pay attention to this and try to gauge what characteristic your interviewer is looking for - the clues are usually scattered throughout the internship role posting and through the interview itself.

"One challenge I faced was managing a tight deadline for a university project while balancing multiple tasks. To tackle this problem, I created a detailed schedule, prioritizing this project, while still meeting the other deadlines. I also asked my professor for some guidance on the best approach for the project.

So, with the help of time-management techniques, I successfully finished the project (and got an A) on time and still kept up with my other commitments. This also taught me to create better plans to manage tasks, significantly improving my performance afterward."

Common interview questions: a time when you worked on a team

8. "Can you describe a time when you worked on a team?"

Usually, if an internship requires you to work closely with other team members, interviewers would ask this question to see if you’d fit in the team. They might also ask what your role was and if there were any issues during your time on that team.

A 2024 LinkedIn analysis shows that communication is the most in-demand skill in the job market. Therefore, you should highlight your communication and conflict-resolution skills. Describe a specific event or a team project and the goal you were working towards or an obstacle you faced, and emphasize how you worked with the team to solve the problem.

"During my studies, I worked on a project with my groupmates. My role was to conduct research and help create visual materials. We had multiple meetings to discuss the direction of the project and our goals, as well as apply edits to the presentation and my materials.

Our visions differed slightly in the beginning, but through communication and teamwork we managed to create a plan that worked for all members of my team."

9. "Do you have any questions for us?"

Just like the hiring manager conducting the interview wants to understand if you would be the best fit for the role, you too should use this opportunity to see if you want to do this particular internship. It's important to have questions prepared for two reasons:

  • To demonstrate genuine interest and engagement.
  • Learn more about the role and what it can offer you long-term.

While researching the company, try to determine what else you'd want to know and what wasn't specified in the internship's description. For example, you could ask about the company culture, what kind of growth they expect to see from you, and what their recent challenges and achievements were. Also, it's recommended to clarify any misconceptions the hiring manager may have about you:

  • Is there anything on my resume or cover letter you'd like me to explain further?
  • What qualities do you look for in a candidate?
  • What could be the reason for you to not hire me?

At the very end, you could ask about the next steps in the application process so you could prepare better. It's also good to get an idea of the hiring timeframe. It's totally appropriate to reach out if you haven't heard back and restate your interest.

Conclusion

Navigating internship interviews can be challenging and nerve-wracking, especially if you don't have any previous work experience and feel like you don't have much to tell. That's why preparation is key.

Make sure to spend enough time researching the company and role, so that you can articulate responses to the internship interview questions that are both genuine and tailored to a specific opportunity. This will help you stand out and properly showcase your talents. If you know that your mind usually goes blank when you're nervous, you can even write down the answers and have the cheat sheet close by in case you get lost in your thoughts.

However, you shouldn't rely on the notes completely as there are many different internship questions and you can't forsee everything. Remember that the hiring manager is just another human and they understand how you feel, so It's okay to pause for a second or say that you need a minute to think.

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