Common and industry-specific internship interview questions
Taking on interns can be beneficial for your business and for the interns themselves. A successful internship program begins before the intern starts working with your company. You must apply the same rigorous standards when developing the questions to ask during an internship interview as you do for job candidates. When formulating internship interview questions, you should ask a combination of common questions and questions that are specific to your industry. This will enable you to weigh-up the intern candidate’s skills and awareness of your industry and company.
Your company should prioritize internships by allocating enough resources, like HR, to ensure that intern candidates want to apply to work with you. If you’ve dedicated the necessary effort to develop an internship program, you should provide details of how to ask for an internship at your company on your website and social media channels. Attracting the best students to your internship program has the following benefits:
- Provide entry-level jobs – Recruiting the right job candidate can be a long and expensive process when taking into consideration onboarding and training. You can reduce the learning curve of new hires for entry-level jobs when you employ interns that have already worked with your company. Many Fortune 500 companies retain interns for entry-level positions.
- A different outlook – Interns bring a fresh viewpoint on different aspects of your business. Where you’ve been working and connecting with people in your industry, you may miss innovative ways of making improvements. Interns come to your company with fresh eyes so they can make suggestions about different and better ways of doing things. You should encourage collaboration between your interns and your team by involving them in as many aspects of your business as possible, including brainstorming sessions.
- Extra help – If your business is experiencing growth and you need help with additional projects, an intern can help to ease the load. The work you allocate to the intern must be of value and assist them in learning new skills and gain fresh insights into the industry. In exchange for their help and input, the tasks given to the intern must enhance their resume and increase their chances of gaining suitable employment.
Common internship questions
In the same way, you’ll ask job candidates generic questions to get a feel of their personality, you should also do the same for intern applicants. The following generic questions will help you to determine whether the intern would be a good fit for your business. It will also help you to decide whether the intern has enough potential to be offered the position even if their industry-specific knowledge is lacking.
- Questions to learn more about the candidate
- Questions to find out about the candidate’s experience
- Questions to determine the candidate’s knowledge of your company and the industry
- Industry-specific internship interview questions
Asking these internship questions will give you an insight into the candidate’s personality and will help you to determine whether they’ll fit into your company’s culture.
- Tell me about yourself
You’re looking for a brief summary about the candidate’s academic life and what they do outside of college. The candidate should mention achievements they’re proud of and also what their hobbies are. When an intern candidate mentions what they do outside of studying, it shows that they have a rounded life and know how to have fun. This is especially important if your company has a culture that encourages team socializing.
- List your strengths
The candidate should answer this question by providing areas that they believe they’re strong in. Additionally, they should back up their answers with practical examples to demonstrate why they have listed certain strengths.
- What are your weaknesses?
This is an internship question that can be challenging to answer. Ideally, the intern candidate will be honest about areas that they need to develop. Be aware of ‘canned responses’ such as “perfectionism.” The candidate should be willing to talk about their weaknesses but should also have come prepared to the internship interview with practical examples of how they’re trying to strengthen their areas of weakness.
- What achievements make you the most proud?
This internship question gives the candidate an opportunity to provide details of a situation where they excelled. Ideally, they will use the ‘situation, task, action, result’ (STAR) technique. This method involves the candidate describing a task they were given, the action they took and the outcome.
- Talk about a difficult experience you’ve had at college and how you handled it
The way the candidate answers this internship question will give you an insight into how they solve problems. The candidate can use the STAR technique again to show how they’ve dealt with a challenging situation. If the candidate hasn’t had a difficult situation at college, encourage them to talk about a scenario from a different part of their lives, for example, a seasonal job.
When preparing the questions for an internship interview, bear in mind that some candidates may not have work experience. Therefore, the internship questions should be based on a mixture of work and academic experience. Also, make allowances to accept answers about different types of experiences, for example, volunteering.
- Explain how the coursework you’ve done is relevant to this internship position
This internship question provides the candidate with an opportunity to talk about benefits that relate to the position as well as transferable skills. They should mention specific coursework they’ve done relating to your industry and also mention how they’ve gained skills like time-management when researching and writing papers.
- List the skills you think will benefit our company
The candidate should take this opportunity to expand on the skills listed on their resume and tell you about additional skills. They should also give you a list of their expectations to show that they’ve thought about what they need to gain the most out of the position.
This aspect of the internship interview will demonstrate the candidate’s passion for your company and the industry. Online sources make it easy to find out relevant information so there’s no excuse for the candidate to be ill-informed about your company or your industry.
- Why do you want to be an intern at our company?
Unfortunately, not every candidate that attends the internship interview will really want to work with your company. They may have applied because they need a position. This question will help you to decide whether the candidate is interested in your company’s mission and whether they’re enthusiastic about joining your team.
- What do you know about our company?
You’ll be looking for evidence that the candidate has gone beyond doing preliminary research when answering this internship question. Their answer should demonstrate that they’ve gone further than the first few entries of the search engine results. Pay attention to candidates who mention the latest developments in your company as this shows that they’ve been following your progress.
- What do you know about the industry?
The candidate should be able to provide some information about up-to-date issues in your industry. They should be able to tell you about the industry publications they are subscribed to. For example, where the candidate is taking part in a retail internship interview, they should be able to tell you about the best retail blogs they follow.
After asking common internship interview questions, you need to find out the candidate’s knowledge and passion in relation to your industry. The following internship questions will help you determine whether the candidate is genuinely contemplating a career in your industry.
- Marketing internship interview questions
- Accounting internship interview questions
- Engineering internship interview questions
- IT internship interview questions
- Digital marketing internship interview questions
- Non-profit internship interview questions
- Government internship interview questions
- Design internship interview questions
Marketing interns normally study advertising, marketing, or a similar subject. The following marketing internship questions will help to assess the candidate’s knowledge of marketing techniques:
- List three differences between marketing and sales
- What are the current trends in marketing?
- Which marketing analysis metrics are the most effective when measuring a campaign’s effectiveness?
- Do you have any experience with mobile marketing?
Accounting intern candidates should already be aware of the basics of accounting terminology by the time they attend the internship interview. The accounting-specific internship questions below will help you to decide whether the candidate’s level of accounting understanding is suitable for your business:
- Describe your experience with bookkeeping.
- What accounting software are you familiar with?
- List three key financial statements and your level of experience in preparing them.
- What tasks do you need to perform on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis?
- Which aspect of accounting do you find the most difficult?
Engineering covers a wide field, so you’ll need to be specific when writing the internship job description and drafting the interview questions to attract the right candidates. The questions below provide you with the opportunity to find out whether a candidate is proficient in the area of engineering you’re recruiting for:
- Tell me about the most challenging technical report you’ve had to write at college.
- Describe a time when you used analytical techniques to identify a problem and design a solution.
- Which software packages have you used?
- Apart from your studies, what resources do you use to stay informed about the latest technology?
- Describe the engineering projects you have done in or outside of college during the last year.
Similar to engineering, IT is also a broad area and the internship will depend on the type of IT position on offer. IT-specific internship questions like the ones below about tools, techniques, and languages will demonstrate the candidate’s suitability for the position:
- What automated-build tools or processes have you studied?
- Do you have experience in programming languages? If so, which ones?
- Describe how you would troubleshoot IT issues.
- Tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve faced while studying IT.
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of on-premises and cloud-based solutions?
Digital marketing has been growing steadily over the past few years due to the increase in online business. The candidate needs to demonstrate that they are aware of different aspects of this fast-paced industry. The internship questions below will help to show their knowledge and aptitude for a digital marketing internship position:
- How does social media support content marketing?
- Talk to me about search engine optimization (SEO) and the importance of keywords.
- Explain the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
- Tell me about the significance of Google Adwords in a digital marketing campaign.
- List the top digital marketing tools.
Most non-profits have limited budgets, so it makes sense to offer internships to reduce costs. The internship questions below will make it easier to identify candidates who have a genuine passion for the non-profit’s cause:
- Why do you want an internship at a non-profit organization?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work with volunteers.
- What do you think are the greatest challenges facing nonprofits today?
- What has interested you about our cause?
- Have you volunteered for any other non-profit? If so, what have you learned?
Government jobs vary greatly and there’s no one-size-fits-all internship interview. The following questions can provide an insight into why the intern has chosen to work with a government agency rather than a corporate role:
- Why do you want to work for the Government?
- What has attracted you to this agency in particular?
- This culture is a bit more relaxed than what you’d expect in a corporate environment. How will you cope with this?
- How have you demonstrated excellent communication skills while studying?
- Describe a time when you worked as part of a successful team.
Whether you’re interviewing interns for UI, UX, Product, Interaction Designer roles, the questions below will provide you with information about whether the candidate has enough design understanding to be successful in the position:
- Tell me about a design project you’re proud of.
- How do you keep yourself updated with the latest design trends?
- What design tools do you use?
- Do you have any coding experience?
- Have you done usability testing?
- The right internship interview questions will result in taking on a hard-working intern that will be an asset to your business.
Make your company an attractive place for interns by prioritizing issues that affect your employees. For example, staff scheduling. The right software can automate your entire scheduling process. If you have hourly staff, why not try Deputy for free to see how our advanced scheduling features will help to make your company a first choice for your employees and for interns? Set up a call with one of our reps below to get a live walk-through of the product: