Career Advice

10 Must-Ask Internship Interview Questions

by CareerFitter

Why Do Internship Interview Questions Matter?

Entering an internship interview prepared with insightful questions is more than just a formality—it's a strategic opportunity. The right internship interview questions can not only show your genuine interest in the role and give you an edge over your competition but also help you determine if the internship aligns well with your career goals and values.

Let’s dive into what you should ask to make a memorable impression, what you shouldn't ask, and some tips for a successful internship.

Key Questions to Ask Your Internship Interviewer

Here are ten thoughtful and unique questions to bring up during your interview:

1. What are the core values that define your company culture?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

This shows that you’re interested in more than just a job; you want to find a company where you fit in culturally. It also demonstrates to the interviewer that you have an awareness of yourself and are looking to connect with the people and company mission.

What the Answer Can Tell You

The interviewer's response will help you better understand the company's ethos and whether its values align with your own beyond the generic information posted in the job description or online job board which is essential for long-term job satisfaction and engagement.

2. How does this internship program fit into the larger talent development strategy of the company?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

Asking this highlights your strategic thinking and interest in the company's long-term goals, indicating that you’re looking not just for an internship but a potential career path. It shows that you view the internship as a stepping stone within the broader context of your professional development and the company's future.

What the Answer Can Tell You

You'll learn about the company's commitment to intern development and potential career paths, indicating how they value and integrate interns into their long-term goals. Does the organization see interns as potential future leaders?

You can also follow up by asking if there are any past interns working in the department to further narrow down how often interns are selected for permanent positions and how long they stay with the company.

3. Can you walk me through a typical day for an intern in this role?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

This question demonstrates your interest in the practical and operational aspects of the role, suggesting that you are methodical and realistic about your expectations. It also indicates that you are assessing how you would fit into the day-to-day operations and whether the tasks align with your current skill set and the one you would like to build.

If you hear the internship interviewer mention skills or tools you are proficient with it's also a good opportunity for you to further reinforce why you would be a good fit.

What the Answer Can Tell You

The details provided will help you understand the workload, the balance between menial tasks and meaningful projects, and how integrated an intern is within the team. This information is key to knowing whether you will gain valuable experience or end up only performing peripheral duties. Ideally, the internship would allow you to fill in knowledge gaps and get closer to achieving your career goals.

4. What are common challenges interns face in this position, and how does the company support them in overcoming these challenges?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

It shows that you are forward-thinking and dedicated to excelling in your role, aware that challenges are part of the growth process. You’re not only assessing how you'll fit but also how the company supports your development in overcoming inevitable obstacles. It also showcases that you are a go-getter and willing to seek out answers to problems independently.

What the Answer Can Tell You

The answer will give you insights into the level of support and resources available to interns, such as training, mentoring, and access to management. It may be a red flag if you are expected to solve complex tasks in a new work environment without support or resources.

It also highlights the company's broader approach to problem-solving and development. If the least experienced people in the company do not receive adequate support from management this is unlikely to change if you take another position with the company after the internship ends.

5. What skills are most critical for success in this internship?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

This question shows that you’re an intern candidate focused on meeting and exceeding the company's expectations, and you’re eager to prepare yourself to be as effective as possible in the role. It reflects a self-starter attitude and desire to develop the right skill set to be a valuable contributor to the team.

What the Answer Can Tell You

Knowing which skills are prioritized gives you a roadmap for what to focus on during your internship. It allows you to tailor your learning and development efforts to these areas, which can enhance your performance and increase your chances of making a significant impact and beating out other interns for future positions.

6. What does success look like for this internship, and how is it measured?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

By asking this, you position yourself as results-oriented and committed to contributing to the company's goals. It also shows that you are interested in accountability and understand the importance of clear benchmarks in a professional setting. A hiring manager is likely looking for internship candidates to dig deeper into how they will be evaluated to show they are genuinely interested.

What the Answer Can Tell You

Clear metrics of success will help you target your efforts appropriately and understand what achievements are expected of you. This is crucial for managing your own expectations and striving for specific goals during your internship.

7. How does the company value work-life balance?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

This question shows that you value a healthy balance between personal and professional life, an important part of avoiding burnout and keeping the role long-term, This is especially the case for remote jobs where employees don't have to return home at the end of the day and stop working. With short internships, you can frame this as a specific question that focuses on permanent employees rather than the internship itself.

What the Answer Can Tell You

The response will provide insights into the company's culture regarding hours, flexibility, and any wellness initiatives. If the answer is something like "We work hard and play hard" that's code that you are going to be in for a stressful internship. Understanding how the company supports work-life balance will help you gauge whether you can maintain your well-being while meeting the demands of the internship or future opportunities.

8. Who will I report to, and what can you tell me about their management style?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

Understanding who you will report to and their style can prepare you for the type of supervision and support you will receive. It also shows that you are considering how to effectively communicate and collaborate within the team.

What the Answer Can Tell You

Knowledge of your supervisor’s management style can help you anticipate the working relationship and adapt your approach to fit their expectations and feedback style. This is key to fostering a productive intern-supervisor relationship.

9. Are there regular events or activities organized for team bonding (especially for remote teams)?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

This indicates that you value team cohesion and a collaborative environment, which are important for personal and professional development. It also shows that you are proactive in seeking a well-rounded internship experience that extends beyond just tasks.

What the Answer Can Tell You

The company’s response will tell you about its commitment to creating a supportive and engaging work culture, which is especially important in remote settings to feel connected and part of the team.

10. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Why this Question Can Give You an Edge

Asking this demonstrates your interest in progressing with your application and your desire to stay prepared for upcoming stages. It also conveys your organizational skills and forward-thinking, both are green flags for a hiring manager.

What the Answer Can Tell You

This gives you a clear understanding of the timeline and what to expect next, helping you prepare accordingly for any further interviews, assessments, or the need to follow up. It helps manage your expectations and keeps you informed on how to proceed with your application.

Questions You Shouldn't Ask Your Internship Interviewer

When preparing for an internship interview, it’s just as important to know which questions you should avoid asking. These questions can give a poor impression or suggest that you might not be the right fit for the organization. Here are some questions that you shouldn't ask during your internship interview:

What does your company do?

Why avoid it: This question shows a lack of preparation. Before the interview, you should thoroughly research the company, understand its mission, and know its products or services.

Who is your competition?

Why avoid it: Similar to asking what the company does, this can suggest that you haven't done your homework on the industry or the company's position within it. A better approach is to demonstrate knowledge of the industry and discuss how the company stands out.

Can I switch to another department if I don't like this one?

Why avoid it: This question might indicate that you are not fully committed to the role for which you are applying, and it suggests a lack of serious intent.

Do you check references?

Why avoid it: This might raise a red flag about your past work experiences or suggest that you have something to hide. It's assumed that all employers will check references, so this question is unnecessary.

Tips for Success in Your Internship

Beyond knowing what questions to ask in an internship interview and which to avoid there are a few things you should do to maximize the benefits of an internship and increase your chances of making a positive impression. Here are some tips for success that can help you excel during your internship:

1. Show Initiative

Tip: Always look for ways to go beyond the basic requirements of your role. Volunteer for additional projects, offer to help team members and suggest improvements when appropriate. Showing initiative demonstrates your commitment and can make you stand out as a proactive intern.

2. Be Eager to Learn

Tip: Approach every task, no matter how small, as an opportunity to learn. Ask questions to deepen your understanding, seek feedback actively, and use it constructively to improve your skills. Being receptive to learning not only enhances your abilities but also shows your supervisors that you value growth.

3. Develop Professional Relationships

Tip: Make an effort to build strong relationships with your colleagues and supervisors. Networking within your internship can lead to mentorship opportunities, future job prospects, and professional references. Be respectful, communicative, and collaborative to foster positive interactions.

4. Document Your Achievements

Tip: Keep a record of the projects you work on, the skills you develop, and the feedback you receive. This documentation can be useful for reviews with your supervisor, updating your resume, and discussing your performance during end-of-internship evaluations.

5. Deliver Quality Work

Tip: Ensure that the quality of your work meets or exceeds expectations. Pay attention to detail, review your work for errors before submission, and always strive for high standards. Quality work is a testament to your dedication and can significantly impact your reputation within the company.

Discover Your Ideal Career Path and Internship

Starting an internship is an excellent way to explore potential career paths and find what truly resonates with your personality and skills. If you're looking to delve deeper into understanding which careers might be the best fit for your personality and skills, taking a career assessment test can be incredibly beneficial.

CareerFitter offers a specialized career test that helps you discover professions that align with your strengths and work personality. By understanding your unique traits and preferences, you can make more informed decisions about your career path.

Ready to find out which career is right for you? Take the best career assessment test today and start on the path to discovering your ideal job.


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