By Punyaslok Rath:
Summer internship season is here, and the race to seize the best opportunities has begun. An early window to the professional world, internships have always served as a great learning curve for students. Companies are realizing the importance of well-implemented internship programs and students, purported by their curriculum needs, are eager to grab a chance in the best of them. Not only is it a very worthy addition to the CV, it also gives invaluable experience. It goes a long way to prepare yourself for work in your chosen field or, at many times, helps in deciding what field you should choose.
With benefits galore, it has become very important to be adept in facing internship interviews. Most interviews revolve around the same set of questions. Let’s have a look at the most common ones, and how to answer them –
1. Tell us about yourself.
The employer wants to know more than what your resume already states. This question serves as an opener and the things you say will be used to constitute further questions. Try making a short and condensed career summary for an answer. For example, ‘About my education, I did my schooling from XYZ School in Dehradun and I’m currently pursuing B.Tech in Civil Engineering from ABC University. My hobbies are writing and reading novels.’
You could, in addition, briefly establish a connection between your educational background or your interests and the internship you are applying for: ‘I designed a website during my college-fest and started working as a freelancer after that. I have the know-how to take up this course development internship, and I expect to enrich my knowledge further through this program.’
2. Why do you want to intern here? What do you know about the company/industry?
The employer wants to know how much you have researched about the company, and how much you know of the related field. Say you’re interviewing for an internship with RBI, and if you can talk confidently about the recent financial trends and the decisions that RBI took – it will give a huge boost to your chances of getting in.
Highlight the aspects of the company that you considered when you decided to apply there. Absolutely avoid mentioning that you’re doing it only to fulfil your curriculum requirement. Instead, add what you expect to learn from your position and the company, and include a bit on how you could contribute. For example, ‘I have always wanted to own a start-up, and an internship with Internshala will help me take the initial step. I was always intrigued by the unique business model at work here and would love to learn all about it. I feel that I can prove to be an asset on the product-marketing front, given my previous internship experiences at ABC and XYZ.’
3. What makes you a good candidate for this internship?
There are two facets of this question – educational and personal.
Read the job description and make sure that you are a perfect fit for the position. Tie your educational background to the responsibilities that you will have to handle during. If you are applying for a cross-stream profile (mechanical guy applying for a coding internship), then bring forth and elaborate on the experiences that piqued your interest in the field related to the internship.
‘Even though I study mechanical engineering, being at the fore-front of the organizing teams for many events in my college has exposed me to the management field. I would like to do an MBA in the future and this program would help me garner relevant experience.’
Highlight your personal characteristics and reinforce them with examples. A lot of students use pointless platitudes as an answer, something they should never do. Saying ‘I am very innovative’ doesn’t have the same effect as saying ‘I marketed my college fest for the first time through websites with target audience was a college-going crowd. That proved to be very effective.’
‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ or ‘Why should we hire you?’ – are some other questions that fall in this category. While highlighting your personal characteristics along with practical examples speaks well of your strengths, answering the weakness part can be tricky. Make sure that you do not project anything negative. Try voicing your weakness as a learning experience, as something that is a sort of a challenge, and how you overcame it.
‘Socializing used to be a challenge for me but I joined various clubs in college, and now I can safely say that I have overcome it.’
4. What are your future goals? or Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Employers ask this to understand your aspirations better, to check if this internship aligns with your future goals and thus, it ensures that you will be motivated to learn.
‘After my Bachelors I am planning to do an MBA, and the experience of working at an NGO, where a lot of ground work is involved, will help me understand the nuances of working on the field better.’
A few employers use this question to ascertain whether or not you will continue with the company if offered a permanent position.
5. Do you have any questions for us?
Yes. Always say yes. Not asking a question will mean that either you have not researched about the position/company, or you are not very keen on the internship. After all, the interview is also meant to facilitate your learning of the company and its employees. Here are a few sample questions –
Can you give me an example of a project that I could be expected to work on?
What is the typical career path of the interns or the employees of this department?
What will be my day-to-day responsibilities?
Is there any sort of training that I will be receiving?
However, you need to avoid certain questions like –
What salary, vacation time and benefits do I get?
Did I get the internship?
Most of the internship interviews are telephonic, and now that you know the expected questions, you can write the answers and refer to them during the interview.
Sometimes though, there could be questions which can very well be described as ‘out-of-the-world’!
Read how to tackle the 8 types of weird interview questions here. If you have ever given an internship interview and have something more to add – we would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Note: This article was contributed by Internshala – India’s leading internship portal.