The summer internship season is here and the race to seize the best opportunities has started. Since the folks applying for internships are mostly students or recent graduates, employers are fully aware of their inexperience and this makes the interview a bit less menacing than the job interviews. Unlike job interviews, where questions mostly pertain to one’s experience, internship interviews revolve around your interest, skills, and attitude. But beware! They are enough to deprive you of your coveted chance.
How good would it be if you could prepare the answers before-hand? So, let’s have a look at a set of common questions and how to answer them –
Tell us about yourself.
The employer wants to know about you, more than what your resume tells. This question serves as an opener and the things you say will be used to constitute the further questions. Start with a condensed career summary for an answer.
I did my schooling from XYZ School at Dehradun and I’m currently pursuing B.Tech in Civil Engg. from ABC University.
Follow it up with establishing a connection between your educational background or your interests and the internship you are applying for.
I designed a website during my college-fest which got me hooked onto the web development field and I started working as a freelance after that. I now wish to experience working with professionals in a team which is why I have applied for this internship.
Conclude with hobbies (if you have one). My hobbies are writing and reading novels.
Why do you want to intern here? What do you know about the company/industry?
Highlight the aspects of the company that made you apply there. Absolutely avoid mentioning that you’re doing it only to fulfill your curriculum requirement. Instead, add what you expect to learn from your position and the company and include a bit on how you could contribute to the company.
What makes you a good candidate for this internship?
There are two things the employer wants to know – your skill-set (educational & technical qualification) and your personal characteristics.
Read the job description and make sure you are a fit. Tie your educational background to the responsibilities you will have to handle during the internship. If you are applying in some cross-stream profile (mechanical guy applying for management internship) then bring forth and elaborate the experiences that piqued your interest in the field related to the internship.
Highlight your personal characteristics and reinforce them with examples. A lot of students use pointless platitudes as an answer, something they should never do. Saying ‘I am very innovative in my ideas’ doesn’t have the same effect as ‘I marketed my college fest, for the first time, through websites whose target audience is college-going crowd. That proved to be very effective.’
‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ or ‘Why should we hire you?’ – are some other similar questions. While highlighting your personal characteristics along with practical examples speaks well for your strengths, answering the weakness part can be tricky. Make sure you do not project anything negative. Try voicing your weakness as a learning experience, as something sort of a challenge and how you overcame it.
Socializing used to be a challenge for me but I joined various clubs at college and now I can safely say that I have overcome it.
What are your future goals? / Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Employers ask this to understand your current aspirations better, to check if this internship aligns with your future goals and thus, ensuring that you will be motivated to learn.
After my Bachelors I plan to pursue a career in Management which would require strong inter-personal skills and the experience I intend to gain through this internship in the NGO, where I get to do surveys and interact with lot of people, will help me develop those skills.
A few other employers use this question to ascertain whether or not you will continue with the company if offered a permanent position.
Do you have any questions for us?
Yes. Always say yes. Not asking a question will mean that either you have not researched about the position/company or you are not very keen on the internship. After all, the interview is also meant to facilitate your learning of the company and its employees. A few sample questions –
Can you give me an example of a project I could be working?
What is the typical career paths of interns or employees of this department?
What will be my day-to-day responsibilities?
Is there any sort of training I will be receiving?