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Interview tips, The internship series

The 4 most common internship interview questions, and how to answer them

A guide to answering four of the most challenging interview questions.

Preparing for an interview? Congratulations! You may have spent hours searching for available positions — and applying to each one — but in the end it was worth it to get that call.

Or maybe you’re here because you’re interested in preparing for the internship search process. Congrats are still in order for starting your career development early!

Wherever you are in the process, you’ll need to prepare for that interview. Doing this early can help you learn what’s expected from the professionals who will eventually interview you. And when they do, you should prepare with these example questions.

Tell me about yourself

This is still one of the most common, and most difficult to answer, questions. There are many places to start, but here is how you can stand out.

Tell them about your career goals.

When an employer asks about you, they want to know how your interests and experience relate to the internship you’re interviewing for. You can start off with a short narrative about your background and quickly transition into relevant experience. For example, if you’re interviewing for a finance role and previously shadowed a financial advisor, you want to focus on that experience. Make sure to also mention how your experience ties into the needs listed in the job description.

Why do you want to work for this company?

It’s helpful to do some research and make sure that your skills, interests, and values are aligned with the company even before you apply. It makes this question much easier to answer if, for example, a company’s mission to “reduce their carbon footprint on the environment” is important to you too. Your interviewer will be happy to know that you share their mission and values.

What are you expecting from this internship?

An internship is a great segue into your professional career and a valuable learning experience.

But instead of referring to the internship as “stepping stone” to your career, your answer should reflect a desire to learn the trade and practice your soft skills over the short and long term. The interviewer will remember this answer when they’re considering candidates for full-time positions next year.

The behavioral question

Every interview will have at least one unanticipated question, and it’s usually the behavioral question. This type of question focuses on how you have dealt with certain situations, customers, deadlines, or management styles.

It’s important to take some time to think of a few examples ahead of time, so you can be prepared for this question. Then, use the STAR method to answer. Remember to choose an answer that is relevant to your work experience. Tell them how you completed a difficult project, eased a distressed peer while volunteering, or about your last accomplishment when working with a supportive supervisor.

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