Interviewing for an internship will likely be your first professional interview experience. It may be intimidating to go into the interview not knowing what to expect. Internship interviews are similar to a standard job interview, except that the focus may be more on your academic achievements since you aren’t expected to have significant work experience. Here are a few things to expect when interviewing for an internship:
Dressing for an interview may seem straightforward, but it can be tricky. Some industries are much more formal than others, and dress codes differ from company to company. Generally, you should dress as you would for any job interview. When in doubt, choose the more conservative option.
Think about Your Career Goals
One question your interviewers will likely ask is about your career goals. Although an internship is a temporary position, many entry-level jobs are filled by former interns. Therefore, hiring managers want interns that will be a good fit if they are later hired for a permanent position. Think about where you want to be in five years and then ten years from now. What direction do you want your career to take, what type of company do you want to be working for and what achievements do you hope to accomplish? Think very carefully about these points so that you won’t be blindsided in the interview, because your answer could be the key to landing the internship.
Know Your Resume
You should be able to answer questions about anything that’s listed on your resume. Whether it’s a class project, a part-time job, or an organization you need to have something relevant to say about the item or it shouldn’t be on your resume.
As with any interview, you should learn as much as possible about the company before the interview. You may be asked what you know about the company, and your level of knowledge will demonstrate your level of motivation and interest.
Interviewers will want to assess your industry knowledge by asking questions based on what classes you’ve taken. A foundation of knowledge is important in any field, even for interns. Refresh your memory on concepts by going back over class notes and textbooks.
Be prepared to answer questions about your classes and school work. What were your favorite/least favorite classes and why? Who were your favorite/least favorite professors and why? Do you enjoy group projects and what role do you typically take in groups?
Standard Interview Questions
Finally, you need to prepare answers for some standard job interview questions. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is a difficult situation you’ve faced and how did you handle it? You can find some more common interview questions by reading 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions
Questions for Your Interviewers
An interview isn’t just about employers assessing candidates, but also about the candidate asking questions of a potential employer. At the end of the interview, you may be asked if you have questions. This is a great opportunity to show your interest in the position and knowledge of the industry and company. Ask what a typical day will be like, what skills you’ll need to demonstrate, and what learning opportunities will be available. You want the internship to teach you practical career skills and offer valuable work experience, so don’t be afraid to ask questions to determine whether or not the internship will provide these things.
For more advice on internship success, read All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience