10 Questions to Ask Interns During an Interview and Why?

usetheforceInterviewing interns is a lot different than interviewing full-time employees. Candidates have minimal experience and almost no track record, so figuring out whether or not an intern has the aptitude and professionalism to fit in at your company often feels like a game of cat and mouse. Still, you don’t need to use the force to pick the right interns, you just need to know what you are looking for and how to ask the right questions.

After speaking with thousands of employers here are 10 of our favorite internship interview questions.

Halt– While you probably know this, it’s worth re-iterating: before you ask any interview questions you need to take a few minutes to get to know a candidate’s background, build rapport, and tell them a bit about your company & role. This last part is more than a friendly courtesy, you actually should be selling the internship opportunity before handing over the mic.

Okay now on to the questions:

1.) What are you studying and why?

Why it works. This should be tee ball practice for the intern. This question helps the student get comfortable; meanwhile helps you get a sense for their story and career goals.

2.) Why did you apply for an internship at our company?

Why it works. This is a simple but powerful question. If the candidate really wants to join your team – their research and passion will show. This is a huge indicator for future success during an internship.

3.) Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?

Why it works. This is another easy question that helps get a student talking, but also gives a lot of insight into their understanding of a particular job, and what they think they can bring to the table.

4.) What extracurriculars are you involved in and why?

Why it works. There is a huge difference between success in the classroom and success in a professional setting. Students who take on activities outside of class tend to be more intrinsically motivated, organized and well-rounded. This is certainly not always true but at InternMatch, we often weight relevant extracurricular activities above GPA.

5.) Explain a challenge you have had to overcome and how you did it?

Why it works. This is a classic but particularly critical for students. You want a candidate who can absorb information quickly and has a hunger to learn. An answer to this question will help you understand how driven a student is.

6.) If you worked at DreamCorp and were about to launch a competitor to the iphone how would you go about doing it?

Why it works. While I typically prefer to ask students how they would approach marketing situations directly relevant to our company there is a lot of value in hypotheticals. One of the goals here is to see how a student thinks on their feet. Do they start with market research, or dive right into feature differentiation? Then you can add or take away variables to either help or challenge them further. Let them know their budget. Let them know how many phones they are trying to sell, and keep pushing them to get a true sense of their analytical thinking capacity.

7.) Can you share an example in which you had to manage multiple projects at once?

Why it works. An intern’s organization and ability to multi-task can make the difference between an intern who gets a lot done and an intern who is constantly a distraction.

8.) How would you respond to an angry customer?

Why it works. A great student will be operating with your advice but also independently so they need to be able to act appropriately without your guidance.

9.) Where did you develop an interest in marketing? Are there any authors or bloggers you would recommend to me?

Why it works. People who are passionate about a field, have opinions on it and have experts who they look up to. Students who are teaching themselves about their field are exactly who you want at your company.

10.) Do you have any questions for me?

Why it works. All students should prepare with questions for you. If they fail this test be wary.

Previous post

Top 5 Mistakes Employers Make When Managing Interns

Next post

Internships, Co-Ops and the University of Waterloo

Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.

  • joyce ford

    I believe you mean “wary” not “weary”.

    • http://twitter.com/IMemployers Intern Employers

      Good eye, Joyce! We’ve fixed the typo.

  • http://kedariyer.com floatr

    An important and essential question I have been noticing in internship interviews is when line managers ask candidates a work related problem solving question to evaluate their thought process.

    This is an example of an advertising agency seeking interns through an innovative approach of asking questions, which resulted in finding exceptional and talented candidate.

    https://medium.com/future-of-jobs/8fada5cb3e1

  • Dan Levin

    #5 is a great one which I use myself from time to time. Another critical “why it works” is that not only am I learning how the candidate uses critical analysis in solving a “challenging” situation, but it also gives me insight into what that candidate perceives to be a “challenging problem” in general; if to them, a challenge is akin to something commonplace at the position I’m screening them for, then it’s possible it’s not going to be a good fit.