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How To Answer 6 Tough Internship Interview Questions

- 29 Jun 2021 by Yehezkiel Faoma Taslim

If you ask your friends or seniors who are already working, there’s one thing they all agree on: nothing they teach you in class can prepare you for what really goes on at work.

It’s nice to learn how to write code or book accounts, but where do you learn how to call a meeting with the team lead, or how to speak to a potential client?

The answer: take an internship!

An internship is a valuable opportunity for undergrads and fresh grads alike to not only get fresh experience in the working world, but also to try out firsthand what your dream job is like.

More articles on internships:

Getting an internship opportunity isn’t easy, though. Just like a real job, there’s an interview to go through. Not to worry, Dreamtalent is here with some solid tips on how to answer the 6 toughest internship interview questions!

For those interviewing for a job instead, check out the interview guides part 1 and part 2.

It’s important to keep in mind that an interview is not a test, but a way for you and the company to see if you’re a good fit for each other. Be honest, be confident, and you’ll land the right internship that fits you best.

The 6 toughest internship interview questions

1. Do you have any prior experience?

Translation: Are you proactive?

But I’m a fresh grad! Relax, everybody knows that an internship is usually your very first working experience. Even if you get asked this question, the interviewer won’t expect you to have 30 years of working experience or stuff like that.

What interviewers are actually looking for is your extracurricular experience, your activities outside of class. Are you actively joining student organizations? Do you have any experience in organizing events or leading a committee?

Your extracurricular activities don’t always have to reflect your major or the field of work of the internship you’re applying to. It doesn’t matter if you’re the secretary of Fitness Club while applying to be a mechanical engineering intern.

What matters is that you’re going out of your way to take part in activities, to take on responsibilities, learn new skills, and interact with new people. This signals that you’re proactive, which is something recruiters look for in interns.

2. What is your dream job?

Translation: Will you enjoy this internship period?

This question is tough for 2 reasons: what if your dream job isn’t this internship, and what if you don’t know what your dream job is?

If your dream job happens to be in the same field as this internship, great! But there’s nothing wrong with having a dream job that isn’t related to what you’re applying for.

Maybe you want to learn a specific skill in this internship that will be useful in your dream job later. Or maybe you’re still testing the waters to see if this turns out to be your dream job instead. Just because your dream job is different doesn’t mean you’re going to be miserable in the internship.

But what if you’re still unsure what your dream job is?

Dreamtalent is here to help you discover your dream job that fits your personality and passion. Just take the short quiz and games and you’ll see what sort of careers are the best for you!

3. What are your goals/expectations here?

Translation: Are you serious about this opportunity?

Be upfront and share your goals for this internship period. You might aim to get firsthand learning experience in this field, to familiarize yourself with the industry, or even seek to join the company in the future!

However, if you’re prioritizing pay, you’re better off looking for a job instead. It’s great if you get paid, but pay should be of secondary concern when you’re looking for internships.

An internship is an opportunity for learning first and foremost. When you’re looking for an internship, you’re expecting to learn some new skills and the ins and outs of the working world. But if your expectation is to get paid instead of knowledge, then you’ll just end up being disappointed in an internship. So it’s important to know what you really want, and whether it’s an internship or a job that you need.

4. What kind of work environment do you like?

Translation: Will you be comfortable in our company culture?

This question can take more specific forms, such as: do you work well in a team; how do you feel about targets and deadlines; can you self-manage; and so on.

The interviewer is trying to get an idea of your work style and whether you’re gonna feel at home in their company culture. A company’s culture is like a company’s personality, so it’s like seeing if your personality is a good fit with the company.

Why is culture fit so important? It’s more than just “fitting in”. Good culture fit will make you feel like you belong there, to be a real part of the team. You will also feel comfortable in your skin (your personality) just being who you are. If you’re the social type, you might like a familial, tight knit company culture. If you’re here for the challenge, you'll be comfortable in a competitive culture that pushes you to do your best.

Read more about the importance of culture fit in this article!

5. Why choose us / what do you know about us?

Translation: Have you done your homework?

In preparing for an interview, you should always do your research on the company and the internship position that you’re applying for. Check out this article for more details on interview prep.

Get familiar with the company. What do they do? Anything interesting happened in the industry they’re in? Any big news recently regarding the company? Since the company would become your new home for the next few months of internship, you’re expected to at least do some research on it.

It’s a bad sign if you can’t answer this question. Chances are if you can’t even be bothered to do some basic research, you might not bother doing work properly during the internship. So make sure to do your homework!

6. What are your plans after the internship?

Translation: Are you interested in joining us in the future?

As mentioned before, one of your internship goals may be to secure a permanent placement in the company, in which case it’s great! But if you’ve got other plans after finishing the internship, then there’s nothing wrong with that as well.

Make your plans clear from the start: perhaps you’re planning to go back to studying or seek work in another field. This clears up any expectations you both might have by the end of the internship period.

Your answer shouldn’t affect your chances of getting the internship opportunity. Most companies, especially those who are serious about their internship programs, accept interns based on their fit and abilities, not only whether they’re going to be an employee or not. That’s what recruitment is for.

But for internships, aside from giving you the opportunity to learn, companies also learn from you. You will be fresh eyes who can give valuable feedback on their products and systems, the young blood from whom they can better understand the next generation, an opportunity for your seniors to become better leaders.

Find the right internship for your personality

Internships are a valuable opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills, but it’s also important to find one that you will enjoy. Dreamtalent can help you discover where your passion lies, what your strengths are, and what your personality is like to recommend you the best internship opportunities that fit you best. Good luck in your interview! 😉