You did it! After spending several weeks applying for internships, someone finally got back to you and said that your resume slaps and they’re impressed AF. (OK, they didn’t say that word-for-word, but your resume and cover letter obviously got their attention, so — nice one!)
Now, the next phase of “Operation Land an Internship” can begin: convincing the hiring manager that you’re worth taking under their wing. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Whether you’re hoping to score a remote internship or an in-person opportunity, the single best thing you can do right now is to prepare for your interview as much as possible. To help you out with that, we’re giving you a list of common internship interview questions, along with the best answers. Good luck!
Related: How to Write a Resume for Internship
Related: Cover Letter for Internships
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
There’s a good chance that the hiring manager will lead with this common internship interview question, so be ready with a well-rounded answer. Keep your response short and sweet (30 to 60 seconds). You can talk about what you’re currently involved in at school or work, projects you’ve completed in the past, and the reason why you’re applying for this position.
2. Why did you choose your major?
There is no right or wrong way to answer this one. Well, that’s not entirely true. You could say something like, “because my parents wanted me to be an engineer,” which isn’t particularly inspiring. Instead, talk about what excites you about the field you’re currently studying and what skills and experiences you’ve gained from it. Then, try to connect those skills and experiences with the position you’re currently applying for.
3. Why do you want to intern at [Company Name]?
Again, don’t be too honest here. The hiring manager really doesn’t need to know that you only want this internship so you can pad your resume and use it to score a much cooler internship in the future. Do your research on the company and identify things that genuinely make you excited for this opportunity. Be specific with your answer and try to explain how you can add value to the company.
4. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Ah, the classic strengths and weaknesses question. So many people think they absolutely crush this question, when, in reality, they totally miss the mark. Seriously, do not try to disguise your weaknesses as a strength. You aren’t fooling anyone when you try to paint your “perfectionism” as a weakness.
Treat the question as an honest assessment. Be upfront about your weakness and how you’ve learned to work around it. Flex your strengths without overexaggerating. Do it right, and you’ll come across as humble, introspective, and self-aware.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
You should definitely prepare for this question in advance, particularly if you’re interviewing for a paid internship. According to a NACE Foundation report, employers are more likely to make a full-time job offer to paid interns.
Related: Do Interns Get Paid?
Employers ask this question because they want to know what your career goals are and whether they can reasonably support those goals. So, think about your career path and how this position fits into your grand plan. It’s OK to be general in your response! Employers know that you can’t predict the future. Just remember to stress your interest in growing with the company.
6. Can you tell me about a time you failed or made a mistake?
When employers ask this question, what they really want to know is how you overcame a setback and if you learned from the situation. Step one: Pick a real failure. The time you got a B- on a group project because you had to do all the work isn’t a fail.
Choose a real failure story that has a growth moment. It may be helpful to structure your response using the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Describe the situation you were in, the task you were given, the action you took, and the end result.
7. Do you have any questions for us?
In case it’s not obvious, the answer should always be, “yes.” A lack of questions for the interviewer shows that you lack curiosity and haven’t done your research on the company. Use this opportunity to ask questions you can’t find on the company’s website. For instance, you could ask about certain aspects of the company culture or how the team interacts with each other.
Preparing to Ace Your Internship Interview
There’s a strong chance that you’ll be asked one or more of these common internship interview questions, so be prepared with well-rounded answers. But keep in mind that the interviewer may throw a curveball in there. It’s OK to pause and think about your answer before you respond! If you need a little more time, just say something like, “That’s a great question. Let me think about that.” And remember, you got this!