This article aims at answering the most pressing doubts that applicants usually have prior to an interview for an internship. The article highlights certain important questions that the applicants should always be prepared for and further elucidates what all an applicant should take care of during an interview. Other than confidence and hard work, there are several other factors which come into play during an interview for internship such as background research and practice.
Preparing for an interview can always be confusing, especially if one is applying for an internship. When a person applies for a job in a firm or an organization, they are more or less aware about the general topics in their field. For instance, after getting a graduate degree in law, one has a fair amount of knowledge of the legal field and hence, what might or might not be asked can be anticipated. But when one applies for an internship, sometimes it can be tough to predict what may or may not be asked by the employer during an interview. Hence, students are always unclear on how to prepare for an interview pertaining to internships. We come across several articles on how to prepare for a job interview, but rarely we see any article which properly guides the interns on how to go about internship interviews. Hence, this article aims to formulate a few useful tips which should be adopted by every student when applying for an internship.
The first step to applying for an internship is submission of your CV. Before you ace an interview, you must make sure that your CV is the correct representation of who you are. Most of the time an interviewer asks questions which are linked to what you have mentioned in your CV. Hence, it is recommended that you go through your CV thoroughly before the interview.One must keep in mind that internships are a two-way street. This means that while your job is to meet your employer’s expectations by working on various projects assigned to you, at the same time your employer also wants to provide you with incredible work experience and learning opportunity. One does not expect you to be an expert in the space or have a wealth of “professional” experience to speak to in an interview. Mainly,when an interview happens, the interviewer wants to get to know you, your experience so far (including professional, educational, and volunteer opportunities), and how you handle (and will handle) different types of work situations.
Another very important point to remember while applying for interview with any firm or organization, is that you should always know “why” you are interested in interning with them. An interviewer would look for the following in your answer: -
- What do you hope to gain from the internship?
- Is this internship in line with your career path?
- Are you interested in this field of internship?
The interviewers always look for people who are passionate about the field.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS DURING AN INTERNSHIP INTERVIEW:
Tell me about yourself
This question is more like an ice breaker. The interviewer tries to make comfortable since you are in control of the answer to this question. Make sure that you are prepared with a smart, short response. The interviewer does not want to know your entire life story; think of this as the highlight reeland keep your response to about one minute. Hence keep the answer crisp and mention your hobbies, accomplishments, education, or any other significant milestone in your professional life. Also remember to state how your current and past responsibilities and qualifications will add value for the company. And while you want to stay focused on the job at hand, your personal interests can make your answer stand out—making you a more memorable candidate.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Applicants always seem to get bewildered by this question. While candidates love to answer what their strengths are, they always fear answering their weaknesses. When naming your strengths, always mention the ones that reflect the best with help of evidence such as awards, accolades or any specific anecdote. When answering about your weakness, refrain from cliched responses for instance, “too hardworking”. Be ready with clear strengths and appropriate weaknesses, and then back up your answers with concise, detailed stories.
How would your friends/co-workers/last employer describe you?
This question might be tricky to answer if you have not thought of an answer beforehand. Consider recent feedback you’ve received, both positive and negative. The point of this question is to see if you’re self-aware, so a good response would include two positive traits and one “needs improvement” to show that you’re insightful and honest.
Do you have any prior experience?
Do not let this question scare you! If you are currently studying, they don’t expect you to have a world class portfolio. All the interviewer wants to see is whether you have prior experience of working in a team and what type of organizations you’ve worked with. Whenever possible, try to quantify your previous accomplishments with specific outcomes and metrics; it lends credibility to your response.List all of your previous internships and volunteer work with a few lines about each. If you hold a significant position in your college, list that also. For instance, if you head the Academic Committee of your college, speak about that.
How do you deal with stressful situations?
This is one of the favorite questions of the recruiters as they want to know if you’ve handled stressful situations before or not, and if you are capable of handling them in future. Every work has certain aspects which can be stressful, and that is why this question is asked in almost all interviews. Mention any incident or anecdote where you might have been in a stressful situation and how you’ve dealt with it.
What do you know about our firm/organization?
Refrain from replying with “you’re great” or “I know nothing”. The interviewer wants to see that you put in the time to do some research and truly care about your potential employer.Adding personal touches when answering this question can go a long way. The more you can connect your newfound knowledge to your own interests and experiences, the better. Prior research is very crucial.
Why should we hire you?
This question is a classic and probably a golden one. Almost every applicant is faced with this question at some point, either during the interview, or while applying for the internship. You should approach this question in two levels. First, highlight the strengths, attributes, and/or experiences that make you unique. Second, show how that uniqueness will enhance the company. Try to tailor your answers according to your knowledge of the organization and depending upon what they look for in an intern.
OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS:
- Remember that you don’t come off as arrogant or lethargic during the interview.
- Make sure you list your accomplishments.
- Be enthusiastic.
- Prepare some key answers beforehand.
- Be honest and truthful.
- Try and keep your answers practical and believable.
- If you have any reservations about the internship, inform the employer beforehand.
- Be punctual when it comes to replying to mails or calls by the employer.
- Refrain from using cliched or pretentious answers. Answer the questions truthfully.
- Remain calm and compose yourself.
What applicants need to remember is that they are not applying for a job, rather for an internship. Hence the organizations or firms do not look for an applicant to be an expert. All they expect is that the intern they end up hiring is passionate about working and learning and how he/she can add value to their work. While one cannot conclusively pinpoint as to what may or may not be asked in an interview, one needs to remember that they must prepare for at least the basic answers. Recently I had the opportunity to interview a few candidates for the position of an intern. The most common mistake that I came across was that the applicants usually fail to do a background research of the organization they applied for. Hence always read and research about the place you want to intern at. Another observation I made was that the applicants are usually not open to changes or adjustments. It should be noted that if there are certain small adjustments that the employer expects from you, you should try to accommodate to that as it shows that you are accepting of situational changes and that you are proactive. Always be confident and enthusiastic while maintaining a professional decorum.