Top 5 Interview Questions to Ask Interns

Young woman interviewing

So, you’ve decided to introduce an internship program to your company but just how do you find the right candidate? It’s all in the questions you ask.

Interviewing someone for an internship is no different than interviewing someone for a full-time position. You want to make sure you’re hiring the right candidate, and the only way to do that is by asking the right questions. But, if you’re stumped, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered.

These are the top five questions you should be asking when interviewing interns.

1. 'Why do you want to work here?'

The best interns are the ones who respect your company mission and have some connection to the work that you do, and they will be able to demonstrate this in their answers. Sometimes, students just need an internship and will just about anything to fulfill their curriculum requirement – and, obviously, they don’t make great candidates. You want to hire someone who is genuinely interested in what you do, and if their goals match your company’s objectives, you just might have a winner.

2. 'What do you think about our company?'

You naturally want to hire someone who has done their research on your company, and one way to determine that is by asking them about it is pretty straightforwardly. If they haven’t taken a few minutes out of their precious time to at least look at the company website’s “About” page, then you might sense a lack of interest on their part – and that gut feeling could save you from hiring a bad intern.

3. 'Tell me about your volunteer or community service experience.'

Young man volunteeringPeace Home Foundation

Chances are, as a college student, the candidate sitting opposite you won’t have a great deal of work experience to brag about (or any at all), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if they have an impressive history of volunteer work. Whether they spent time planning events, reading to children at the local library or helping out at a local soup kitchen, they’ll have no doubt developed certain skills that will prove incredibly valuable to you and your company. Simply put, asking about their volunteer or community service experience allows you to determine just what they bring to the table.

4. 'What are your goals after graduation?'

Their future plans do not have to directly relate to your company, the position, or even the industry you’re in, but if you know that you share some common ground, they might be worth it. This is especially important if you’re hoping they’ll eventually turn into a full-time hire. After all, someone aspiring to be a stock trader on Wall Street might not be a perfect fit for your nonprofit organization’s values.

5. 'Do you have any questions for me?'

Woman with questionsShutterstock

It might not seem like a very useful question to ask a candidate, but remember what they say: never judge a book by its cover. Asking this seemingly “pointless” question gives candidates the opportunity to seek clarification about the position or company, and it also allows you to determine how interested they are in the internship. If they’re even the slightest interested in the job, they’ll have prepared a few questions to ask you. And what’s the point in hiring someone who couldn’t care less?

Can you think of any other questions you should ask when interviewing interns? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with fellow entrepreneurs looking to hire interns.