Common Internship Interview Questions
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This is your guide to the most common internship interview questions. Internship interviews are very similar to interviews for normal jobs. There are no hidden laser-tag rounds or cake-related challenges like there is in The Apprentice.
And although that is admittedly sad, doing an internship will increase your chances of getting a graduate job after university. Across all the companies that feature in RateMyPlacement’s Top Undergraduate Employers, 54% of their placement students were offered graduate jobs. This could be you!
This is why it’s so, so important that you’re prepared for an interview for an internship. So read on and on to discover what questions you might be asked, how to answer them, and some tips and tricks for phone interviews.
Do internships have interviews?
Yes. They do. Most jobs you apply for will include some form of interview during the selection process.
Internship interviews are not that dissimilar from interviews for placements and graduate jobs. You’ll speak with a single interviewer or a panel, and they’ll ask you questions to gauge whether or not you have the skills, the personality and the aspiration to do the job.More and more employers are now using strength-based interviews. This type of assessment is based on what you’re good at (your strengths), rather than your previous experience. Read Preparing for Strength-Based Interviews for more info.
If you're looking for a student internship, click the button below and leap like a salmon over to our jobs page. There are opportunities across most sectors, except LEGO.
Common internship interview questions
Here’s a list of some of the questions that you might asked during an internship interview. Of course, you could encounter a particularly weird interviewer, who asks particularly weird questions…
‘Tell me Jason, would you rather be pursued by an angry deer, or a horde of hungry caterpillars?’
Or something like ‘If you were a root vegetable, what sort of turnip would you be?’
We can’t prepare you for that, (although if they ask you the turnip question, your answer should be the purple top), but the questions below are some of the most common internship interview questions...
What interests you about this internship?
Why are you applying for this internship?
Why do you want to work for our company?
They also might ask specific questions about the business, perhaps about specific projects or developments.
If your interviewing at a small to medium-sized company, they might ask… Why do you want to work for a small company?
Read Why You Should Get Work Experience with an SME for some for insight into how you could answer the question above.
Here are some more interview questions...
Give an example of a situation where you dealt with conflict.
Would you describe yourself as a leader?
Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people.
What is your approach to facing an unfamiliar challenge?
What motivates you?
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Where do you want to be in 5 years time?
What are your biggest strengths?
What are your biggest weaknesses?
How to answer them
Do some company research
For any questions related to the role on offer or the company, such as ‘What interests you about this internship?’ it’s crucial to do some company research.
You can look into…
Armed with this information, it will be a hell of a lot easier to answer questions about why you want to join the company.
So visit their company website, peruse their social media and keep an eye out for any news stories in which they’re mentioned.
The work experience reviews on RateMyPlacement are also a great resource for company research.
It’s often very tempting to exaggerate and make things up during the interview process. After all, a job (or in this case an internship) is on the line.
And as a student you’re unlikely to have much previous experience to talk about. The odd fib or embellished tale can sometimes just slip out. But this isn’t a good approach.
Honesty is the best approach. Most interviewers have been been around the block a few times, that’s to say, they’ve interviewed a lot of students. They can sniff out bull***t like a truffle pig.
So be honest. Be truthful about your strengths as well as your weaknesses, what you know and what you don’t. You won’t come across as a weak candidate - instead you’ll be authentic and self-aware.
STAR interview technique
Have you heard of the STAR interview technique? STAR is an acronym. It stands for situation, task, action, results. It’s the best method for responding to competency-based questions, such as ‘Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people’.
The STAR technique helps you shape well-articulated answers based on your previous experience.
Read our Guide to the STAR Interview Technique to find out how you can put it into practice.
What should I bring to an internship interview?
Notepad and pen
In case you need to jot something down during the interview. It’s also good for doodling or playing noughts and crosses if you have some time to kill.
CV and application form
The employer will probably print off both your CV and application form, but it’s good to bring them just in case.
Bring your passport or driving licence. The company will need proof that you have the right to work in the UK. Don’t worry if your photo is embarrassing, everybody’s passport photo is embarrassing.
Examples of your work
Bring some examples of your work if you have worked on an exciting project at university or have a side hustle that is related to the internship.
Recyclable bottle of water
Stay hydrated and save the planet at the same time. If you are a rebel, you might consider a fruit juice of the pineapple variety.
How do I prepare for a phone interview for an internship?
Phone interviews are used by employers to reduce a large group of potential candidates into a shortlist.
For this reason, phone and video interviews usually take place before you meet the employer face-to-face.
How to prepare
1. The employer will arrange a time, just make sure you’re free. Politely ask to rearrange if it clashes with something important.
2. It might sound a bit obvious, but don’t eat or chew gum during the interview. Even fruit pastilles. It’s distracting and worse case scenario, you could get no purple pastilles (the good ones).
3. Find somewhere quiet for the phone interview. Home is best, but a calm cafe will do.
4. Check your phone is fully charged before they call you.
5. If you have a rubbish signal or the call cuts out, don’t panic! Play it cool and treat it as a test of your adaptability.
6. And don’t be scared to ask the interviewer to repeat a question. If you can’t hear or miss something, just ask!
7. You can refer to your notes/research, but be mindful the interviewer will hear if you’re rustling papers or reciting pre-prepared answers.
These tips are also relevant for video interviews. Hurrah!