10 Smart Questions to Ask in an Internship Interview

Smiling young woman attending a job interview with an older male HR manager
Mangostar / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re a graduate or a student or you’re currently seeking a career change but want to test the waters with some work experience first, you’ll need to know how to ace the internship interview!

But what most candidates forget is that an interview is a two-way street and that they need to ask questions just as much as answer those that interviewers fire their way.

By asking questions throughout your interview (not just at the end), you’ll show how keen you really are about earning a spot on the company’s internship programme, and this will effectively present you in the best possible light.

So, if you really want to wow your interviewer, memorise a few of the questions listed below!

1. Can You Tell Me about the Training Process?

By asking this fundamental question, you’ll get some insight into what your time at the company will be like. After all, you want to know whether you’ll be fetching coffee all day or if you’ll actually be doing some work and learning something.

If the company has a structured training programme, you will know that they take their interns seriously and that you will gain valuable experience from your internship. This question will, essentially, give you an indication of whether the internship will be beneficial to you or if you should set your sights on another company.

2. Do Interns Have Opportunities for Full-Time Employment at the End of Their Internship?

Some companies will offer interns a full-time position at the end of their programme if they have done an outstanding job. This is mainly because they’ve spent the time investing in interns’ advancement and are eager to see them grow.

By posing this question, you can gain motivation to work extra hard throughout your programme and prove that you’re an excellent match for the company and can fit in effortlessly within its culture.

3. How Do You Define the Company Culture?

Speaking of culture, it’s important to know what the office atmosphere is like and to see if you would make a good match. The value behind this question is simple: you have to be happy where you work, and you have to like the environment that you’re in (even if it is just for a month!).

Even if the interviewer simply provides you with their mission statement, you can get an understanding of how employees align and what a typical day will be like in the workplace.

4. What Have Previous Interns Done that Really Made Them Stand Out?

This question not only shows that you’re eager to progress and excel, but it also indicates initiative because you’re asking how to shine before you’ve even started.

You should listen very carefully to the answer and take notes to make sure that you not only do the same but also find ways to go above and beyond what previous interns did. The answer could give you an indication of how you can be more than an intern and become a vital part of the team.

5. What Types of Projects Will I Be Working on During My Internship?

Many interns overlook asking this question and are surprised to find that they aren’t working on projects that they expected to and end up being the resident tea-maker for a month.

By asking this question, you can raise projects that you’d be keen to get involved in and, essentially, be on the same page as the employer. If you get a mixed message, it might be best to continue searching for alternative work placements.

6. What Are Key Qualities that You See in the Most Successful Interns?

Finding out ahead of time what it takes to make it to the top is always a good thing. It helps you identify whether you have the qualities that are needed, and it gives you time to brush up on other areas before your internship begins.

This question will also spark the interviewer’s interest, as it will show that you’ll want to succeed in their company and that you view the opportunity as far more than work experience.

7. How Will You Evaluate My Performance?

Expressing your interest in receiving feedback will show that you’re eager to learn and are focused on professional growth and personal development within the workplace.

By obtaining this information, you’ll have clear expectations of what you should work towards, and you’ll have something to measure your goals against. It also shows that you care about your performance and that you want to exceed any expectations.

8. How Long Have You Been Offering Internship Positions?

You’ll ideally want to see if the company is used to working with interns and if they have the right processes in line to ensure that both the intern and the company’s needs are met during this period. This includes any training processes, tasks and assigned mentors.

If it’s a relatively new position, you may fade into the background as an intern and will be searching for things to do. If this is the case, you may be better of applying for an internship programme at another company that is better known.

9. How Much Interaction Will I Have with Other Employees?

Most interns don’t usually have the opportunity to interact with people outside their department. By posing this question, you can identify whether you will have the chance to move across departments and get to know more about the organisation. Vogue magazine, for example, gives interns the opportunity to gain hands-on experience across different teams. But, if they don’t, don’t be shy to ask! After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

10. What Are the Next Steps in the Interview Process?

If you want to know about the hiring process and when you can expect to get a final answer, then go ahead and ask! It’s perfectly reasonable to pose this question, and it will also show that you’re keen on bagging an internship.

You will also give yourself peace of mind - instead of being glued to your phone, refreshing your inbox every five minutes to check if an email has come in with the golden answer! The information that you receive will also ensure that you don’t miss any vital steps of the interview process.

A good rule of thumb for all interviews is to ask questions that keep the conversation flowing and that are natural. If the hiring manager has answered one of your questions throughout your discussion, be sure not to pose it again at the end of the interview! This will only show that you’re clumsy, which will harm your chances of getting the position that you want!

What’s your favourite internship interview question to ask? Let us know in the comments section below!