7 Internship Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Written by Coursera • Updated on

When you have an internship interview lined up, you might wonder what interview questions you’ll be asked. To help, we have a list of the most common internship interview questions and suggested responses

[Featured Image] A woman wearing glasses, a grey jacket, and a white blouse sits across a desk talking to a woman wearing a blue blouse and glasses.

Internships usually have a similar application and interview process as a job opening. Review a set of commonly asked interview questions for interns before you meet the hiring manager.

When preparing for an internship interview, practice responses to the most commonly asked questions to give the best answers possible and have a higher chance of getting hired. 

Gain experience during an internship to increase your marketability and the number of job offers that you receive. To increase your confidence and prepare for this new experience, study this list of potential interview questions and suggestions on how to respond.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  

Serving as a warm-up question, the hiring manager or team will likely ask you to tell them about yourself. While it’s a general question with many possible responses, you should talk about your current degree program, the year you’re in, and the career that you plan to pursue. 

The majority of this response should focus on your education and future plans. However, you could add a detail or two about your hobbies and interests at the end of your answer.

2. Why are you interested in this internship? 

To answer this question, think about what goals you expect to achieve during the internship. Using those goals, explain what skills you want to learn and how this opportunity will help you grow your career while helping the community or the industry. 

Include company-specific information here, like how your personality and values will fit perfectly with the corporate culture, or discuss a recent award the company won and how you’d like to learn the award-winning skills.

To find company-specific information, review the company website, blog, social channels, and news sources for any events they may be celebrating at the time. 

3. What are your career goals?

State a career goal that you plan to achieve in five to 10 years related to the internship. Include a series of small steps that will lead to your ultimate long-term goal. Conclude your response by explaining why the goal is important to you and how the internship is the first step toward achieving it. 

4. What skills do you have that make you a good fit for this internship?

During an internship interview, you’ll likely be asked to discuss your skills and how they align with the internship. To prepare for this question, review the job description. You will find a list of ideal skills for the internship. Highlight the skills that you have and support your statements with your experiences. 

Be sure to mention your technical skills, which can be tied to your classwork, and your workplace skills like communication, collaboration, and ambition.

5. Please tell us a time when you worked well as part of a team.

When recruiters ask this, they want to know that you can work effortlessly with others. You could mention working on a team project for a class or a previous job or how you collaborate when you volunteer. Explain the projects or situations and their positive outcomes.  

6. Please tell us about a challenge that you faced and overcame.

To answer this question, state the problem you faced and avoid blaming anyone for causing it. This question is meant to assess your ability to adapt. The challenge can be small or big, as long as you explain your actions to overcome it and improve the situation. Ideally, the challenge will include other people instead of an individual challenge that you overcame. 

7. Please tell us about a time you took a leadership role. 

The hiring team wants to hear that you’re an intern with drive. You can mention a time you led a class project or a problem that you identified and worked to improve. Be sure to include how you took the right actions to lead the group to success. 

Questions to ask your interviewer.

When asked if you have any questions, always have a few in mind to ask so they can see your genuine interest in learning more about the company, the position, and your future coworkers. Here are questions you can ask:

  • Are there opportunities for full-time work upon successful completion of this role?

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this internship role?

  • How would you describe the company culture?

  • What does your onboarding process look like? 

  • How is this position evaluated?

What are employers looking for in an intern?

When reviewing the interview questions, try to understand what the employers want in an intern. Here are some of the preferred qualities you can talk about during your interview. 

Be a team player. 

Teamwork is a requirement in today’s workforce. During your internship interview, try to weave in examples that exemplify your collaboration skills. 

Show the ability to lead.

Hiring managers want to see that you can take the lead. Being a leader is about setting a positive example, suggesting improvements, and taking on work when you’re not asked to.

Show initiative and problem-solving skills.

Employers want interns who take the initiative. If there’s a pending task or problem, be sure to help out without being asked. 

Exhibit self-motivation and ambition.

Ask your manager for additional work or suggest a task you’d like to take on when you’re ready for another assignment. This will show your employer that you have ambition. 

Next steps

Before your interview, take these steps to confidently walk into the interview prepared.

Research the company.

Take some time to research the company. Go through the company website and review the company mission, values, and products. Explore its sustainability policy, outreach programs, and volunteer opportunities as well. Examine the company’s social media account and note posts that may offer insight into the company culture or its values. 

If you happen to know someone who works at the company, consider meeting or chatting with them before the interview to learn about the company, its history, and the people who will conduct the interview. 

Prepare your answers.

Review the internship interview questions listed above and practice your responses. Jot down bullet points for each question on a notecard so that you can practice them repeatedly until you’re comfortable with your answers and delivery. Avoid sounding robotic or too rehearsed—let your answers flow naturally to demonstrate assurance. For each response, include substantial examples and thoughtful responses.

If you get stuck while preparing for the interview or during the interview, think of PIE, which stands for “passionate, interested, and engaged.” Craft a response around these attributes for an authentic answer to any question.

Practice your interview.

Ask a friend or a parent to sit down with you and do a mock interview. During this practice interview, wear the professional clothes you plan to wear in the interview, including the shoes, so you can be comfortable on the day of the actual event or change your wardrobe if necessary. 

Go through the questions and ask your mock ‘interviewee’ to give you feedback. Were you sitting upright in the chair? Were there questions that you stumbled over? Did you exhibit any nervous habits? Ask them these questions and apply their feedback to improve your responses and presence for the actual interview. 

If you plan to rehearse alone, create flashcards or record yourself answering the interview questions so you can review the videos and improve your responses. 

Read more: What to Wear to an Interview

Getting started

Learn proven techniques to turn your interview into an internship offer with The Art of the Job Interview, a collaboration between Big Interview and Coursera. For more insights that you can use to prepare for your next internship interview, consider Interviewing and Resume Writing in English Specialization from the University of Maryland.

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