Going to any interview is a nerve wracking process, but when it’s make or break for the start for the ideal internship that will kick-start your career, it’s even more nerve wracking. If you struggle with nerves, take a deep breath and check out this article on how to cope with interview stress.
Internship interviews are unique in that it’s really quite uncertain what questions the employer will ask you. Your CV and cover letter highlighted how you have the skills to carry out the job but it’s unlikely that you’d have carried out the responsibilities attached to the role in a commercial context. That’s a long way of saying you might not have done a similar job before, so don’t know how you’d carry out the role.
What the Employer Wants to Find Out
The employer wants to find out three things when they interview you:
– What you can do, i.e. skills
– Why you want the job
– What you know about the job.
As the interview if for an internship, the employer isn’t expecting you to know everything there is to know about the job, but you should know a considerable amount and how it relates to where you want your career to go.
Every internship has technical requirements which you could be asked about. As there are so many internships out there, it’s impossible to list all of them. However, if you had an interview for a journalism internship, you could be asked “how do you keep your writing neutral and unbiased for a story you feel strongly about, such as local politics?” You’d be expected to say how your past experience and skills and knowledge developed as a journalism student has allowed you to value the importance of providing the public with news rather than opinion, which can devalue the authority of a story.
Competency Based Questions
You’re most likely going to be asked competency based questions in an interview for an internship. These help the employer find out how you work and deal with problems. The following classic questions are likely to be asked:
– Tell us about a time you solved a difficult problem
– How do you work well in a team?
– Give us an example of when you have been in charge of a group of people and overcame a problem
– How would you deal with a disgruntled client?
– How do you manage a heavy work load?
The best thing about competency questions is that you can rehearse them. As your GCSE history teacher loved to say ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!’ So you’d best get in front of the mirror and practice.
Commitment or Career Based Questions
Naturally, the internship employer will want to know what you’ve got planned for your career. They want to help you along your way as much as they can so may ask you:
– Why do you want to follow this career?
– Why did you choose to study [insert subject name]?
– What attracts you to this role? How do you think it will benefit your career?
– Where do you see your career in five years?
– What do you think you will enjoy most about this role?
– What do you think you will enjoy least?
Employers ask these because they want to know that you’re cut out for the internship and will be able to succeed in the role. To answer these effectively you need to do your homework on the vacancy, organisation and industry. Work out what they do, why what they do is important and how they make their money. You should also be sure that the vacancy matches your interests and aspirations and where you see yourself going.
You may be asked some unusual questions at your interview, such as ‘If you were a Premier League footballer, who would you be and why?’ It’s tough to prepare for these but we advise that you try to link your answer to your skills and characteristics. So for the Premier League footballer, why not choose Per Mertesacker? Hardworking. Reliable. Leadership qualities. What’s not to love about Per Mertesacker?!
You may also be asked a quick case question, such as how many American flags are there in the United States? Employing logic and reason here is more important than the answer – think about how many government buildings there are, how many schools and sports teams etc.
Internship interviews are, like any interview, slightly tricky. Research and practice is the best way forward though!