Saturday, July 13, 2024

Know the Right Things to Say: 6 Best Internship Interview Tips [2024]

Present yourself as the ideal candidate.

Sending an application seemed easy enough, but perhaps the incoming interview has your stomach in knots. Not to worry; acing this career-related conversation is just a matter of preparation. 😄

An internship — especially in a high-value company — poses additional value to your resume as it grows your skills, network, and experience. So, play your cards right with the help of these six internship interview tips to make you shine even with limited experience. ✨

1. Clarify Your Goals, Values, and Skills 🔍

A smiling brunette female college student reflecting on her career goals and values to guide her in her internship search
Decide on the kind of workplace environment that will help you thrive and use that as a reference when choosing an internship. Photo: Freepik

Living up to company expectations is essential, but getting what you want from this experience should also matter. 👍

To check if your goals and values align with the company, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What is your personal career goal? → Do you aim to take leadership positions in the future? Gain valuable skills?
  • What traits or priorities do you value? → Does a fast-paced environment make you productive? Would a customer-facing role suit you?
  • What do you hope to get from taking an internship? → Are you in it to expand your professional network? Or find a potential mentor?
  • What are your top three hard and soft skills? → Which of these are the most useful in your chosen career path?
  • What are your strengths and areas for improvement? → How can your strengths make you stand out, and what are you doing to improve managing your hurdles?

Your answers will help narrow down a suitable internship (and a full-time job eventually) and make it a breeze to tackle personal questions in the interview. 😄

TIP: If you’re stumped, review your experience in a college project, extracurriculars, or part-time job to determine the best career match for your strengths and interests. Consider taking self-assessment tests like DISC or 16Personalities for good measure, too. 

2. Research About the Company 🧑‍💻

A smiling brunette female college student researching on her laptop about a company searching for interns
Searching for an internship and then acing the interview is similar to job hunting, so take every step seriously. Photo: shurkin_son/Freepik

Dig up information about the company before diving into an internship interview. An organization may have a great reputation, but is it a place you would like to do an internship and possibly work full-time for in the future? 🤔

Check out the company’s mission and values to see if it’s a good match (look through their website or press releases), and ask around or research the company culture. You’d want to know whether you thrive in a suit-and-tie corporate scene or prefer the laid-back vibes of a creative agency before committing. 🏢

Good to know: This activity is also how you can find potential questions to ask the interviewer, such as the day-to-day tasks for the role you’re eyeing, metrics for success, and other in-depth queries hinting at your diligent research. 

3. Practice for Interview Questions 📝

Two female college friends sharing internship interview tips and practicing for it
Find and exchange internship interview tips with your college friends who have already gone through the process. Photo: Freepik

An internship interview allows the company to know whether you’re compatible and vice versa. Figuring this out comes down to familiar themes of questions, such as:

Questions About You

Is there a tried-and-tested interview tip for answering the question: “Can you tell me about yourself?” Only give summarized information about yourself relevant to the role you’re applying for instead of giving them a mini-autobiography. 🫣 Interviewers typically start with this question to get the ball rolling and gain insight about you.

Keep your answer concise using this format

  • Your name, educational background, and school
  • Relevant achievements, extracurriculars, or hobbies
  • How did these prepare you for the role you’re applying for

TIP: Some interviewers ask about your hobbies or what motivates you to excel in your work, which is another way to learn about your personality and values and how these fit into the company culture.

Sample Response:

“My name is Amy Johnson, and I’m majoring in Cognitive Science at UCLA. I’m also an officer in the Psychology and Technology student clubs, focusing on event marketing and securing sponsorships. These experiences honed my problem-solving, communication, and visual design skills which I believe are crucial for excelling in the role of a UI/UX designer intern.”

Questions About Your Career Goals

Questions like, “Where do you see yourself working after graduation?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” are used to gauge your interest level in the role, your ambitions, and career alignment.

Emphasize the importance of this internship role in your response while highlighting your personal development ambitions. Visualizing where you’ll be after a certain period can be challenging, but internship interviewers appreciate applicants who have a preferred career direction and growth. 👍

Sample Response:

“I aspire to be X in the Y industry, and this role aligns with that. To help me get there, I intend to be a proactive intern taking on responsibilities and contributing significant success to the team so I can hone ABC skills that’ll get me to that position once I graduate (or after five years).”

Questions About Your Interest in Working for the Company

A company may have many competitors hiring for the same role, so interviewers want to know what it was about them that attracted you to apply. This is the perfect opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework while also showing your genuine interest. 

Your answer must highlight and explain your agreement or liking toward the company’s mission, values, product or service, or brand — or all of the above. ✨

Sample Response:

“I was drawn to apply for this internship at X company because not only do your products have great effects on my skin, but I also deeply appreciate your commitment to cruelty-free beauty products. So, I’m genuinely excited to contribute my marketing skills to support a brand that makes fantastic goods and also stands for something I believe in.”

Questions About Your Relevant Experience

Relevant experience can include volunteering during summer break, joining extracurriculars, and being proactive in class or research projects, as well as working part-time jobs while in college. 

These will be phrased as behavioral questions to confirm the qualifications you mentioned in your resume. When asked about the time you did something, lay down the situation first, explain what you did, and give the result to emphasize your best qualities and relevant experience. 💯

Here’s a common question you might encounter: “Tell me about a time you solved a problem within a team.” 

Sample Response:

“I was part of a group project about building a website, and I noticed two group members stopped showing up during online meetings. 

I decided to message them personally and found out they felt confused and overwhelmed with the pace, so I compiled the main points and FAQs from our meetings and turned them into one organized document for them to review easily. It worked to bring them back, and we got the highest points once the project was completed.”

4. Get Ready for Interview Day 👔

A male college student fixing his tie in front of the bathroom mirror for his internship interview
One of the best internship interview tips is to dress for the role as if you have already secured the position. Photo: javi_indy/Freepik

Ensure that your efforts in following the internship interview tips above pay off in the main event. Tick all the boxes below:

✅ Secure the date and time. Avoid overlapping classes or important schedules on the same day. But if you can’t help it, prepare other requirements in advance or negotiate for a deadline extension with your professor.  

✅ Check the on-site location ahead of time. If the interview will be done in person in an unfamiliar area, scope out the place in advance to figure out where to go and the time it takes to get there to avoid getting lost or late on the actual interview day. 

✅ Prepare the tech requirements. If your interview will happen online, find a soundproof place with good lighting and test your computer’s camera and microphone.

✅ Wear the appropriate clothes. Whether you’ll be interviewed in person or virtually, looking professional gives you a point. Inquire about the dress code since this can differ depending on the type of workplace environment. 

✅ Keep your resume accessible. Bring three to five printed copies of your resume in case there will be more than one interviewer, or prepare your PDF copy in a folder you can quickly access. 

5. Be Calm and Composed 😌

An African-American female college student smiling confidently at the interviewer after reading internship interview tips
Brief pauses before speaking and slowly (but clearly) articulating your thoughts can convey confidence in your interview. Photo: Freepik

Feeling frazzled when you really want to clinch an internship position is normal, but keeping yourself under control works in your favor. Try these internship interview tips to project yourself as a confident applicant:

  • Prepare and practice a lot. Researching the company and potential questions and rehearsing your answers aloud to those questions build familiarity that’ll help you feel comfortable during the interview day.
  • Remind yourself of your achievements. Find and list down all of your accomplishments to remind you why you’re a strong candidate with a fighting chance for that internship position.
  • Shift your mindset. Reframe your nervousness as excitement when you view the internship interview as a conversation about getting to know each other instead of a high-stakes interrogation.
  • Smile as you enter the interview. Doing this can trick your brain into feeling better quickly.
  • Take at least three deep breaths. Slow and full breaths tell your body that you’re not under threat and, thus, help you enter the interview with a calm demeanor.
  • Pay attention to your posture once you’re in the interview. Sit upright instead of slouching to let more oxygen in, show confidence, and keep your jitters at bay.
  • Pause before answering. Rushing to answer right away can make you speak your disorganized thoughts out loud and possibly lead to a faux pas. Take a second or two to think about what you want to say and how to say it. 

6. Thank the Interviewer 🤝

An Asian-American female college applicant thanks the internship interviewer with a handshake
The best internship interview tips guide you on what to do before, during, and after meeting with the hiring manager. Photo: Freepik

When nearing the end of the interview, take one last shot to show your genuine interest. Ask what will happen after the interview, such as when the results will come out and who to contact for concerns. 📧

Lastly, thank the interviewer for their time. This can make them feel appreciated, build rapport, and show professionalism

TIP: Send them a thank-you email within 24 hours to keep your application top of mind, especially for interviewers who expect this kind of message. 

Write your intent in the subject line (i.e., “Thank you for your time.” or similar) and greet them using their name. Then, write these in the email body:

  • Introduction: “Thank you for the time to interview me for the [role] at [company] on [date].”
  • A brief reminder of your qualifications: “I look forward to contributing my skills to your company as a [college major] at [college name] and [organization name] volunteer/participant.”
  • Call to action: “For any concerns, please contact me at [mobile number] or email me at [email address].”

Close your email with phrases like “Regards,” “Respectfully,” or “Thanks for your consideration.”

Being a tight bundle of nerves can be managed when you apply the best interview tips that help you from start to finish. Don’t fret if you don’t get it right the first few times — you’ve got valuable feedback to improve on until you land the right internship. 💪

Best Internship Interview Tips: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare for an internship interview?

To prepare for an internship interview, you must be ready mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Here are the best ways to focus when you have an upcoming interview:

1. Clarify Your Goals, Values, and Skills 
2. Research About the Company 
3. Practice for Interview Questions 
4. Get Ready for Interview Day 
5. Keep Calm and Composed 
6. Thank the Interviewer 

What are the top questions for an internship interview?

What are the top things to ask the interviewer in an internship interview?

How long does an internship interview last? 

When do college internships start?

How many internships should I apply to? 

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