Internship Interview Questions to ask Candidates

If you are overwhelmed by tedious tasks and small projects, you may benefit from hiring an intern.
When interviewing candidates, ask questions that help you identify someone who is a high achiever and fits your company culture. Interns may lack work experience or certain skills, but good questions will help you identify someone who has an interest in your company, and who can perform assignments correctly and efficiently.
Use these internship interview questions to help you hire a great intern.

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Why did you choose your field of study?

Interns may be interviewing for the first time, and could have plenty of nerves coming into the interview. This question is an easy first question that gets a candidate talking about their passions, background and ultimate career goals.
Example: “I chose to study Business because I learn a variety of skills: finance, operations, IT, strategy, and customer relations. Ultimately, I’d love to earn an MBA and work as a management consultant.”

What are you looking for in an internship?

Some candidates might be looking to build specific skills, learn about various aspects of your business, or expand their leadership skills An ideal candidate will be able to articulate reasonable goals that can be achieved during the duration of their internship.
Example: “I’m really interested in online marketing, specifically building and managing email marketing campaigns. An ideal goal for my summer internship would be to execute an email campaign and report on success metrics, such as open and click through rates.”

What interests you about our company?

They say an internship is like an extended job interview. By asking this question, you’re evaluating whether someone has a long term future with your company. A key point to look for in this answer is how this person intends on applying the skills he or she learned at the internship, and where they intend to take those skills.
A follow up question to ask is why the intern decided to apply to your particular company. An intern’s answer to this question will show whether they looked at more than the front page of your site, and can confidently articulate why your company could be the best for their career development.
Example: “I admire your company culture and am excited about potential growth opportunities with this internship. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed learning about the community initiatives you encourage your employees to participate in.”

Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?

Potential interns may not have professional experience, but may be involved with organizations where they’ve developed leadership and other professional skills. Identifying what activities they are involved in is a great way to see whether they would be a good culture fit for your company. If they talk about playing sports, and your organization is chock full of basketball fans, you probably will not have any qualms about your intern fitting in.
Example: “I was a team lead at a retail store in college. Over the holidays we went through a lot of turnover–many people were not used to working long hours. I developed a process that allowed my team to take frequent breaks, in order to avoid burnout, and worked with my supervisor to reward those who took on additional responsibilities during the busy season. My team had the least amount of turnover in the entire store.”

How do you manage multiple projects at once?

At first, an intern may need more instruction to execute projects. A great intern candidate will demonstrate how they’ve handled multiple projects at school or in extracurricular activities. This interview question and answer will provide you with the opportunity to see if your potential intern can multi-task when it comes to different projects.
Example: “I’m highly involved in and outside of school, and often have multiple tasks I need to complete at once. One of the most important things I do is work ahead. I perform my projects a little bit at a time, setting aside a certain amount of time for each one. That way, I know I am making continual progress, and none of my projects or activities are neglected.”

Tell me about a time where you have dealt with a difficult situation?

With this question, you want to see an intern’s ability to think under pressure. An intern can differentiate themselves by telling you how they used their particular strengths, and what process they followed in order to get out of the situation presented.
An internship interview is great way to find quality candidates who can grow within your company. Asking these questions can help you find top intern talent, and expose a new group of people to your company.
Example: “We were particularly busy on a Saturday at the restaurant that I worked at. One customer was getting particularly angry because of the long food wait times, and that her food was overcooked when we brought it out. I first asked her if she would like the food remade, and when that didn’t satisfy her, we worked to get her a dessert and a discount coupon for her next visit. I made sure to constantly check on her once she got her food and dessert, and she seemed to be in a happier mood and greatly appreciated the effort we made.”
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