The opportunity to interview for an internship can give a student or recent graduate a chance to get her foot in the door of a good company. The interview for interns is similar to a traditional interview. However, because most interns lack much in the way of professional experience, the interview will focus more on the competencies or behaviors necessary to be successful in the internship position than work experience.
Most hiring agents will focus on specific competencies or behaviors during an internship interview. These questions typically involve specific situations a candidate was involved in, action steps she took, and the outcome of actions. Internship candidates can succeed in answering behavioral questions by focusing on past experiences and behaviors that would demonstrate positive work outcomes.
Information and Skills
Competency-based interview questions ask whether an intern can apply new tasks, information and data quickly. The interviewer wants to determine whether you are resourceful and motivated to learn within the work environment. In answering these questions, provide examples of situations where you learned challenging new information quickly and assimilated this into your work or studies. This will demonstrate your ability to succeed on the job. Good ways to demonstrate your ability to succeed in competency-based environments include providing examples of times when you took on new projects or challenging assignments and learned new skills and behaviors successfully.
The interview will also focus on your problem-solving aptitude. Internship interviewers want to assess how well you can gather information, organize it, and analyze it to find solutions to problems within the organization or relative to your potential work duties. For example, you might be asked to describe a challenging problem or assignment that required you to come up with a new approach to problem solving. Or, you might be asked to describe an instance where your primary approach did not succeed, and you had to try something different.
An internship interviewer will also assess your ability to plan, organize and interact as part of a group or team. You might be asked to demonstrate your experience working successfully as part of a group project or assignment, and your role as part of that assignment. A good way to address this is to provide examples of group projects, extracurricular team activities, and community or volunteer work to demonstrate your ability to work successfully as part of a team.