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5 Tips on How to Prepare for an Internship Interview

Guest Contributor


This article is a guest contribution from TheHireUps.com, a career advice site that focuses on getting more job opportunities and passing your job interview.

What is an Internship Interview?

To understand what an internship interview is, you need to be clear about what an internship is.

An internship is not the same as a job. It’s a short-term work experience offered by an organization or company, typically to students, and it serves to offer exposure in a particular field. It’s a learning experience rather than a job.

Yes, internships often lead to concrete job offers, but at the very least, interns will learn about the company and the industry, develop relevant skills, and begin to build themselves a network that may serve them in the future.

An internship interview is a work experience placement interview, NOT a traditional job interview.

Since the candidate doesn’t have previous industry experience, the interviewer’s main objective is to get to know them and find out why they’re interested in the internship.

5 Tips to Help Your Student Prepare for an Internship Interview

Interviews can be stressful, especially for college students and recent graduates. Preparing properly beforehand will allow your student to go into the interview feeling calm and collected.

Here's what they need to do and how you can help!

1. Research the Company

If asked, your student needs to be able to answer questions about the company, which means they should be familiar with its business model and products.

The easiest way for them to accomplish this is to familiarize themselves with the company website, or Google search to see if it comes up in the news.

There are a variety of other resources out there, like Crunchbase, which can help your student gain valuable knowledge about the corporate landscape.

If you know of anyone who has worked or is working there, help your student connect with them so they can find out more about the company's values and culture and what it's like to work there.

Learning about the company will help your student prepare thoughtful questions and answers, and show they’re invested in the internship.

2. Get Their Work Samples In Order

Not all industries will require work samples, but advertising and marketing firms generally do.

A current college student or recent graduate will have projects or assignments they’ve completed which can be used as samples.

The samples should demonstrate that your student has the aptitude to handle the position and can include school projects or awards in relevant subjects.

If the company has asked your student to complete a task beforehand, this can substitute for a work sample.

3. Dress the Part

An internship interview may not be the same as a job interview, but your student is still competing against other candidates. Their appearance is a big part of that.

If the company provided guidance about appropriate attire, this should be followed. If they didn’t, your student should assume that business attire is expected.

The best approach is to consider the industry, but the outfit should also be flattering and fit properly. It’s also best to plan ahead so choosing an outfit doesn’t cause anxiety on the day of the interview. You can help by offering to take your student shopping if they don't have quite the right items in their wardrobe, or evaluate possible outfits.

If you need more help, check out LinkedIn’s suggestions for how to dress for an interview.

4. Conduct Practice Interviews

Running practice interviews gets your student comfortable speaking about the topic, and prevents them making the most common interview mistakes.

It isn’t necessary to memorize answers, but they should become familiar with giving clear and concise responses.

A great way to help them is to record them answering questions, so they can see what they look like and adapt their tone of voice or manner of speaking.

Remind them to practice speaking clearly and eliminate filler words like “um” and “like.” A brief pause is always preferable.

5. Prepare Some Questions for the End

The interview isn’t just about finding out if your student is a suitable candidate. Your student also needs to figure out if they actually want to work at this company.

They should prepare a few of their own questions to ask at the end of the interview. For example:

  • “What is the single most important thing you expect from your interns?”
  • “What do you love most about working here?”

If your student needs more ideas, Indeed has a great list of questions to ask in internship interviews. They can practice these with you as well to make sure they're putting things into their own words and sounding natural.

Internship Interview Questions to Expect

Again, interviewers understand that prospective interns won’t have industry experience or professional history, so their questions will focus more on figuring out who your student is and whether they’re passionate about the industry.

Here are some common interview questions to be ready for:

  1. Why do you want to intern at this company?
  2. What makes you a good candidate for this internship?
  3. What do you know about this company?
  4. Tell me something about yourself.
  5. What are your career goals and how does this internship fit in with them?
  6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  8. Have you done anything that you’re proud of? Describe it for me.
  9. Would you like to be hired at the end of your internship?
  10. How would your friends/professors/previous employers describe you?
  11. How do you deal with stressful situations?
  12. Do you have any questions for me?

Your student will probably be nervous before their interview, so remind them that the interviewer just wants to get to know them.

The best advice you can give them is to take a deep breath, think through their responses before they answer, be honest — and be themselves.

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