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Common internship interview questions and answers to prepare

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You are looking for an internship. And you have finally managed to get an interview… Here are 20 classic  questions and  you should definitely prepare for.

The key is not to be surprised by a classic question to which the recruiter will expect an answer that shows your confidence.

Common internship interview questions and answers

In a few words, who are you?

It’s not easy to define yourself in a few words. And yet, knowing how to do so will most likely be useful in many situations, including internship interviews.

List on paper your professional, academic and extracurricular experiences, your passions and hobbies, before articulating them in a text of 5 lines maximum starting with “I am First Name Last Name…”.

Why did you choose our company over another?

This is a good question! Here, the recruiter is simply trying to verify that you did not choose the company by default and that your decision to do an internship within the structure is well thought out and motivated. Reassure them.

What did you understand about the proposed internship assignments?

If you have done your job well (and we have no doubt that you have), you have studied the internship offer that was proposed to you and understood the interest of its missions. Restate the offer point by point by structuring your sentences as follows: “If I understand correctly, the aim is to carry out such and such a task in order to…”.

What would the people around you say about you?

“He’s a real laugh!”, “She’s so funny!”, “There’s never a dull moment with him…”. No, no, the recruiter does not expect you to respond with this type of remark, which is very nice but has nothing to do with the proposed internship.

Identify the qualities that your entourage appreciates in you and that could be useful in the context of the offer you are applying for: “He is a conscientious person”, “She is damn well organized”, “He has always been curious to learn”. Don’t hesitate to illustrate these qualities with concrete examples.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is an interesting question for the recruiter, but also for you since it will allow you to do some introspective work that is very useful when starting a professional career.

As we mentioned in this article dedicated specifically to the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”, this is a way of reassuring the recruiter about the coherence of your career path and your ability to project yourself into the missions that will be entrusted to you.

Tell me about an experience of which you are particularly proud

Be sure to choose an experience, either professional or personal, that will be useful to your future internship assignment. This question is intended to identify how you are able to capitalize on your learning and use it to good effect when the time comes.

What was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?

Granted, this is not a simple question. Here, the idea is to demonstrate how you were able to turn the obstacle, a priori negative, into a positive and useful experience for your future professional missions.

Simply identify a situation that was not easy to solve and show how you managed to get out of it with all the necessary qualities at the time… And for your future internship experience!

What motivated your choice of training?

This is where you demonstrate the coherence of your academic career and what motivated your choice of orientation. Demonstrate how the training you have chosen is in line with your professional project, i.e. the career you hope to pursue in the more or less long term.

Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?

This is not an obvious question since, in any professional experience, you will encounter both situations. The recruiter knows this.

Rather than running away from the question by choosing only one of the two options, tell them that you have already been confronted with both situations and that one or the other suits you since they apply to different work contexts. Isn’t variety a source of richness?

Take advantage of this opportunity to ask whether the assignments you will be offered will be team or individual oriented.

What did you do in this gap on your resume?

It is possible that your CV includes a period of apparent inactivity. This may be the result of a sabbatical, an unsuccessful search for an internship or work-study program, or personal worries that have forced your resume to stand by…

Whatever the reason why you have not indicated anything on your CV, you must have a good reason to explain this period of inactivity and learning to value. Your trip around the world has most likely opened you up to new qualities that are useful in the business world!

What do you know about our company? And our competitors?

The secret to answering this question is to be prepared. It may seem obvious, but many candidates still arrive at an interview without having done a minimum of research on the company’s activities and its main competitors.

Most companies have a “About Us” section on their website. Checking out the company’s Glassdoor page will also be very helpful in finding out about the company’s culture and other things like their compensation policy. Finally, you are free to consult the company’s social and environmental report if it offers one.

And if you still lack information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with employees from your school or university on LinkedIn to ask them your questions. Most of them will appreciate it.

Why you and not another candidate?

The competition is on! As you can see, you are not the only candidate interviewed for this internship. Nevertheless, do not doubt your qualities, which are undoubtedly as numerous as those of the other candidates. The point here is to highlight them in a concrete way, i.e. by illustrating each of them with a real-life example.

Discover our article entirely dedicated to the question “Why you and not another candidate?” to learn how to sell yourself without bragging.

What would be your ideal internship?

“The one you offer, of course! If this answer is on your lips, specify in this situation what you expect from your next internship experience. Discover this or that profession, develop your technical knowledge in this or that field, perfect your sales pitch with the advice and expertise of your future internship tutor… State the few reasons that motivate you to do this internship in a company.

What do you think you can bring to our company?

The answer to this question can be found in one word: your EXPERTISE. Although you have very little experience in a company, you already have a nascent expertise. To define it, I recommend that you consult point number 3 of our article on boosting your personal branding.

This internship is paid at the legal minimum of 3.90€ per hour. Is that good enough for you?

In this situation, ask yourself two questions:

Do I have any other avenues than this to complete my internship?
What are my daily expenses in order to live comfortably?

If you have other firm and more interesting offers, don’t hesitate to tell the recruiter who, if he or she is really interested in your profile, may be able to ask the management for an effort.

If this is not the case, pretend that the situation suits you and remain open to other better paid opportunities.

In any case, do not put your quality of life on hold for an underpaid internship. And if you don’t get a better-paying offer, don’t hesitate to supplement your income by taking a cue from our article on how to find a student job despite curfew.

Name 3 qualities and 3 flaws

This is certainly THE most dreaded question by candidates. The one that destabilizes, that makes us look deep inside ourselves for flaws that are in fact qualities such as “too perfectionist”, “too comfortable speaking”… In short, too perfect.

Although in my opinion and in the opinion of many recruiters, this question should not be asked anymore, we advise you to split your answer in two:

On the qualities, which is a fundamental question, answer with real assets validated by real experiences;
On the defects, which is a question of form, answer as much as possible with humor or self-mockery.

To go further on this question, consult our complete article “What are your 3 qualities and your 3 defects”.

So, let’s switch in English?

Cette question, je ne la connais que trop bien pour l’avoir expérimentée en tant que candidat pour un stage chez Orano (ex-AREVA) il y a une dizaine d’années. Ma réaction ?

Gêne intense et goutte d’eau sur le front, pour ne pas dire stupeur et tremblements.

Moi qui n’avais pas une grande maitrise de l’anglais à l’époque, j’étais persuadé que cette question signerait la fin de mon process de recrutement. Et pourtant, j’ai tenté tant bien que mal de m’en sortir en faisant le maximum avec mon anglais approximatif.

Ce qui m’a sauvé ? Ma bonne foi, arguant du fait que je comptais profiter de ce stage à dimension internationale pour améliorer mon niveau d’anglais.

When will you be available for this internship?

Logically, your availability date is already indicated on your CV. If this is not the case, or if the recruiter is looking to reconfirm this date, you may be asked the question.

Here again, there are two types of answers available to you:

The approach that aims to sign your agreement as quickly as possible, if you have no other leads or if this internship is the one you absolutely want;
The approach that tends to delay if you are waiting for other answers or interviews for internships that are more suitable for you.

In the first case, specify your availability as soon as possible and take advantage of this to ask when your internship agreement will be signed.

In the second case, indicate your availability period and wait for the recruiter to come back to you for a possible signature, suggesting a deadline that coincides with your other pending responses.

Do you have any other leads?

In recruiting as elsewhere, the rule is “first come, first served. If your profile was selected for an interview, it was certainly one of many. There is therefore a good chance that other companies will want to meet you and offer you to join them.

If you do have other offers, don’t hesitate for a second to mention them clearly, even specifying the names of these companies if they are competitors. The recruiter will have no choice but to make a quick decision if they don’t want to see you go to the competition. The more you show you are wanted, the more desirable you will be!

Do you have any questions for us?

At the end of an intense, even emotional interview (see point #17), you may want to leave the premises to go home, take a good shower and binge-watch your favorite Netflix series. Not so fast!

When it comes to this final question, it’s always a good idea to be a little curious. “What is the average age within the company?”, “What happened to your former interns, what positions do they hold today?”, “How soon do you think you’ll be able to offer me an answer?”… List 3 to 4 questions you could ask at the end of the interview to conclude your exchange in a positive way and rebalance the question game.

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