After endless hours scouring the internet and applying for internships, you finally hear back with an invitation to interview. This is such an exciting step in the process…but don’t be too nervous. You’ll be able to prepare if you start reviewing common internship interview questions. Knowing what questions to expect helps alleviate some of the nervousness you feel before your interview. And your answers will sound more professional and compelling when you take time to prepare.
Here are some of the most popular internship interview questions you should expect to be asked during your interview. You can write out your answers, but definitely practice saying them out loud a few times, too — you’ll be more confident speaking when you know you’ve rehearsed a bit! Swipe and customize our sample answers to make the prep process even easier.
This question is always a popular one, in interviews for internships and full-time jobs alike. It’s similar to the “Walk me through your resume” question, but as a potential intern, hiring managers won’t be expecting you to rattle off long lists of huge professional accomplishments.
Quick tips for answering this question well?
Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, I’m so excited. I’m Abby, a Junior at the University of Maryland double majoring in Communications and Marketing. I’m extremely passionate about nonprofit communications, and my current career goal is to work as a communications strategist for a healthcare-related nonprofit, like the Susan G. Komen foundation. To start working on those skills, I’m the Managing Editor of my university’s award-winning newspaper, where I oversee a staff of 30 editors covering university events and news. I’ve also volunteered with organizations like the Red Cross and the Alzheimer's Association, along with at a local domestic violence shelter in my area. These experiences have been really transformative and helped cement my career goals and passions.
Of course your interviewer will want to know why you’re even applying for this role. They’re looking for something authentic here, and the key is to tie a specific fact or two about the company or team to your larger career goals and interests.
Thoroughly researching companies should be a standard part of your job search process (and Teal’s Job Tracker Tool makes that research even easier!), but now’s the time to do some digging if you haven’t already.
Of course, X company is a huge leader in the nonprofit world, so it would be an honor to work with your team. But more specifically, I’m so drawn to your specific work doing XYZ. It’s really inspired me to continue pursuing this career path, and I know I could help make an impact on your audience through similar work!
The goal here is to showcase your resilience and problem-solving skills! Being adaptable is a trait that most employers look for, and especially when you’re early in your career, a potential employer will want to see an example of how you handle obstacles!
I volunteered at a summer camp every summer for five years working with kiddos who have disabilities. Every time I go back, it’s such an incredible experience, and I absolutely love it — but it’s taught me so much about quick thinking, problem solving, and overcoming challenges. One example is when a camper was extremely homesick and absolutely refusing to participate. Multiple counselors tried to engage with this camper by hyping up the ideas of the activities we were doing, and it was just frustrating this individual more and more. Eventually, I realized the problem: activities aren’t enticing when all you can think of is how much you miss your family. I went over and started a conversation asking the camper to tell me about all the things they’re looking forward to at home, and then shifted to how excited they must be to tell their family about all their new adventures. This worked like a charm! It really taught me about empathizing with others and being willing to meet them where they are, instead of trying to force situations at my pace all the time.
The best way to answer this question is to be genuine. Don’t say what you think the hiring manager wants to hear. Consider what you’re truly proud of, and then naturally tie it back to your overarching goals.
I’m really proud of the after school mentorship program I started at a local elementary school in my community. In this program, high school students mentor elementary school students and lead fun, engaging activities like arts and crafts, all with the goal of building confidence. I started this program and ran it for two years, and then passed the baton to a younger student. When I was home for the summer this year, I checked in and saw how well it’s going — and I still get emails from parents about the impacts this program had on their children. It’s such a privilege being able to create something that makes a difference, and although it was challenging almost every step of the way, it was so worth it — that’s why it’s one of the experiences I’m most proud of.
You’ll almost always end up answering a question about your skills. Sometimes, these questions are veiled as ‘behavioral’ questions. Every company approaches this differently: some take a straightforward approach, and some word their questions as hypothetical situations to see how you respond on the fly.
Here are some examples of how these types of skills questions might be worded as behavioral or situational questions:
Sometimes, these questions are even more creative, but they all tie back to your innate qualities and traits, as well as the way you handle different scenarios. Try and think about the skills you've developed both in college and in previous jobs. Be flexible and confident if these types of questions come up and they’re different than you expected!
The two biggest skills I’ve developed recently are definitely team communication and time management. Managing a team for my school’s newspaper has been tricky, but I’ve learned a TON about communicating clearly and effectively to make sure everyone has what they need to be successful. It’s also been tough keeping everyone on deadline, let alone balancing the newspaper responsibilities with a full academic course load myself! I’ve found that project management systems like Asana, and tools like Google Calendar, have been really helpful in keeping me on track.
Don’t be afraid to spice up your answers by infusing them with your personality, too. There’s no set answer that’s “right” or going to land you the internship. Your goal here is to make sure your interviewer understands what you bring to the table and why you’d make a great intern for their team and company!
If you wrote a cover letter for the internship application, you can use that as a starting point to prepare for the interview.
And remember, don’t be nervous—your whole career isn’t riding on this interview, and you’re going to land a role that’s right for you in time. If this internship doesn’t work out, you can always refine your job search with Teal’s free Job Tracker Tool (and maybe land one that you’ll love even more!).
Preparing for an internship interview is a little different than preparing for a typical job interview. Often, students and young professionals land internships as their first real forays into the professional world. You aren’t necessarily showcasing a resume packed with experience yet. Instead, the questions you’ll answer are meant to let interviewers know who you are, what type of team member you’d be and what unique qualities and skills you’ll bring to the table.
Generally, you can expect to answer questions about yourself: your background and education, what makes you unique and how you’d handle specific scenarios and challenges.
Some companies have really specific questions, while others keep things more general. And that’s okay! You don’t have to know every question ahead of time to prepare yourself well…you just have to think about what key skills and traits you want your answers to demonstrate.