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You could utilize these internship interview questions to help you find the best candidate for your open intern, graduate and junior roles.You would also find some tips and advice on how to better prepare for an internship interview and assess the candidates in an efficient manner.

How to interview for an intern:

Internship positions offer companies the opportunity to connect with recent graduates who can apply their theoretical knowledge and experience to fill short-term business goals. After you hire for an internship role, make sure to check your local labor laws in regards to working hours and wages.

You can post your internship advertisements on sites like internships.com and WayUp as well as career pages of post-secondary institutions and social media platforms. It is way more advantageous to hire for five or six-month internships, instead of one or two-month-long internship so that interns have a good amount of time to adapt to the working culture, get familiar with their internship roles and work on multiple projects.

Make sure to prepare questions in advance for your internship interviews and that you are well aware of the different job requirements and duties. You are free to add any follow-up questions or alter any of the questions based on the specific skills and experiences you are looking for.

Don’t miss our complete guide on how to recruit and hire interns.

Most common internship interview questions to ask a candidate:

  • What was your motivation behind choosing your major/field of study?
  • How would this internship benefit you and your career? What do you hope to gain?
  • What are some of your long-term goals and how will this internship help you implement your goals?
  • What are your expectations in terms of the working wage for your internship?
  • Are you currently enrolled in any courses? If so, what is your class schedule like? And what is your working availability like?
  • What software or platforms have you worked with?
  • Tell us a little about your previous college projects and how the skills and experiences gained from those project, will help you in this internship?
  • What is your strategy in handling fast-paced environments and working on multiple projects simultaneously that need to be delivered within tight deadlines?
  • Describe an experience of yours in which you worked as a team member. What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
  • If a problem occurred while you are working, what would you do? Reach out to your manager to ask for help, seek advice from your coworkers or solve the problem on your own? Why?
  • Tell us about a time when a professor or a fellow team member offered you negative feedback for the work you performed, what was your reaction?
  • Do you plan on continuing your education in the future? If yes, in what field of study are you interested in?

Tips when interviewing interns:

  • Clarify and explain in detain the different hiring stages. Junior candidates whom you are hiring for internship positions might not be completely aware of the different stages. And while it is important to be transparent towards all candidates regardless of the type of position you are hiring for, junior candidates may need that extra guidance and explanation. If these junior candidates do not have an extensive job experience, they they may require that each process and step of the hiring process, to be explained to them (who they’ll meat, what they will talk about, etc.).
  • Set expectations and notice dealbreakers early in the interview process. During the first stages of the hiring process, treat candidates applying for internship the same way you treat candidates applying for other positions. You could utilize knockout questions in application forms and screening calls to decide if candidates possess the minimal required skills and experiences for your internships. For instance;
  1. Are they capable in using a specific X software or platform?
  2. Are their salary expectations similar to the wage that you would be offering?
  3. Does their availability match the number of months you want to hire them for? 
  4. Are they able to work for the specific amount of hours required each week? 
  • Assess candidates’ skills by giving them assignments before the interview time.hu Projects that demonstrate job duties and responsibilities will help you better understand and evaluate how junior candidates and interns can apply their theoretical knowledge to the hands-on work that you require.However, make sure to provide enough instructions that these interns would understand how to complete their assignments.

Red flags:

Below you could find some examples of negative signs to notice when conducting an internship interview with future interns:

  • They have different career orientations and goals. If a candidates’ long term career goals do not align with the internship position and the company’s mission, then they will likely not be as actively involved and engaged with their job responsibilities. However, if they are skilled and willing to learn about the company and its procedures, then they could intern in another department of your company, if possible, or you could get their contact information to inform of them in regards to any future internship opportunity.
  • They are not motivated enough. Internships are work positions for a specific amount of time (3-6 months) and are an amazing opportunity for post-secondary students or recent graduates to get hands-on experience. But, this is only if they are interested and engaged enough to make their experience worthwhile and meaningful. Therefore, candidates who see their internship work as tedious and boring, and finish the bare-minimum of their tasks, might not be the best option for your company to invest their time and effort into those types of interns. 
  • They lack professionalism. Examples such as not arriving on-time for interviews, being unable to hand in a project on-time or being arrogant are all red flags that you want to avoid. 
  • They do not fit well within the company’s culture. If your internship programs are a building stone in future full-time employment opportunities, then it is important to check if the prospective interns can fit the company’s culture and values. Additionally, prioritize hiring interns who are likely to stay with the company for a long time as their interests and goals align with the company’s.

If this interview sheet has been helpful for your internship interviews, make sure to also check:

  • Onboarding interns checklist
  • HR intern job description
  • The false economy of unpaid internships

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