You’ve earned an internship interview — congratulations! You have achieved an important step towards securing an internship position.
Completing an internship is an excellent way to get experience. Internships are temporary, supervised assignments designed to give students or recent graduates practical job training. Companies typically offer these temporary positions in the summer or part-time during school semesters, often for school credit or base hourly pay.
Internships can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. The experience often expands your skillset and provides you with knowledge about an industry. After graduation, internship experience on your resume can set you apart from other job applicants. The company you interned with may even offer you a job if you performed well during your time with them.
When you arrive for an internship interview, you may feel a little nervous or stressed. These feelings often come from not knowing what to expect.
There are several steps you can take in the days leading up to your interview, which will make you feel more confident and prepared during the meeting. The most important step is researching the company and learning about its mission, vision, and goals. The next step is to practice the interview by considering your response to frequently asked questions and developing confident body language.
Further, make a list of thoughtful questions about the company and job description. Asking these questions to the internship interviewer will help you decide if the internship meets your needs and shows that you’re genuinely interested in the position.
Many students and young professionals make the mistake of thinking of an interview as an interrogation. Instead, an interview should be seen as more of a two-way conversation. Just like the employer will have questions for you, you should have questions prepared to ask the employer; doing so shows that you have a genuine interest in the organization and the position.
Here are some effective questions to ask during your internship interview:
What will my responsibilities be?
Each internship opportunity comes with its own set of unique responsibilities. Having a detailed answer about your regular tasks will help you make an informed decision about accepting an internship. Some organizations might assign high levels of responsibility, while others might ask you to answer the phones. Knowing ahead of time what specific work they will require you to do will help you choose the right position for your skills and interests. It is important to know whether the duties of the position align with what you want to focus on in your career.
Is there a training program for interns?
Asking this question will give you a better idea of what the first few weeks of your internship will be like. If they offer a formal training or mentorship program for new hires, great! If not, you will need to be ready to dive in and get quickly acclimated to the new work environment. You should also be prepared to ask plenty of questions about how things work at the company when you begin your internship.
What are some expectations from this position?
Knowing what they expect of you from day one will help you prioritize tasks. It is always good to ask this question upfront so that you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish when you begin the internship. Understanding expectations from the position can also help you measure your progress and even exceed expectations.
Who will I be working most closely with?
By asking this question, you'll know whether you will mostly work alone or within a team. If you are working alone, you will have to hold yourself accountable for deliverables. If you’re working within a team, knowing who you’re working with can help you understand how your responsibilities contribute to the bigger picture. In either case, be prepared to network and establish relationships with other professionals, as they could benefit you later on.
Does this internship have the potential to turn into a full-time role?
Many companies hire their interns full-time if they prove to be an asset. Asking if the internship could potentially turn into a full-time job also shows your long-term interest in the company.
What are the company’s values? What characteristics do you look for in employees to represent those values?
Dig deep to get more information on company culture. You’ll get insight into what is most important for the company and what it values in the individuals who work there.
What are some essential qualities for successful interns?
Personal traits are important in deciding whether the internship would be a good fit for you. This question shows your interviewer that you want to fulfill their expectations. The interviewer's answer will also provide insight into their standards for your performance and behavior. Whether or not you receive the position, you can use the answer to this question to prepare for future internship interviews.
Do you have any additional questions about my background or qualifications?
Employers may expect many of these commonly asked questions and will probably give you fixed answers. This question can open up a more candid conversation between you and your interviewer. Asking this question also allows interviewers to fill any knowledge gaps they may have about you and communicate your confidence about being a good fit for the job.
In addition to these key questions, you should also research the company you are interviewing with by looking at their social media profiles and reading the content on their website. Then, formulate unique questions based on that research.
And don't forget to dress appropriately and make it to the interview on time!