Questions to Ask When Interviewing for an Internship (Guest Post)

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You have learned almost everything you could in the school setting from your professors, textbooks, and overnighters on group projects. Now what?

Now comes securing that internship. Internships can be essential before you step out into the brutal reality of the actual workforce. Internships allow you to gain hands-on exposure to what it would be like working in the real world. The theories, knowledge, and skills learned at school can now be put to the test.

The interview process may be different in internships versus an actual, real job. Still, it is similar in that you have to make a pretty stirring impression, be prepared to answer questions about yourself, and ask about the roles and responsibilities the company expects from you.  

Here are the most important questions to ask when interviewing for an internship:

1. Can you describe the culture of the company?

A company’s culture is its essence, but this is not something the company imposes, but instead, this develops over time between its employees and the employer. Other than the company’s vision, mission, goals, values, and ethics, an understanding of its culture helps an applicant decide if his/her personality will mesh well with its company’s structure.

2. Is there a company orientation and training program for interns?

The employer’s answer will give you an insight into how the company has handled interns in the past. Reality is, some companies will throw new interns in the line of fire on the first day, which is not precisely the best way for interns to start. You want to start your day with your best foot forward, and you need the company’s help in achieving this by giving you the right tools to do your job correctly.

3. Will interns have an opportunity to volunteer in the company’s community outreach?

It does not have to be this specific question, but asking about a particular event or activity that the company had will show them that you have done your research. Your interest in the company goes beyond just landing the internship. Having a genuine interest in the company’s goals, culture, and background give the impression that you’re willing to put in the work to make the most of it.

4. What does a typical workday look like for this internship’s position?

Each internship is different from the other. Different sets of tasks and responsibilities may be assigned depending on what the employer deems doable. Knowing ahead of time, the jobs they may assign to you will help you make a better decision in choosing your internship and help you prepare and anticipate the needs of the situation.

5. How will my performance be evaluated?

Although it is a given that you do your absolute best, articulating your interest in constructive criticism will show that you’re open to learning and opportunities to grow. It also helps to know specific areas – if there are any – or skills your employer will focus on for the evaluation.

6. What is the absorption rate for full-time employment for interns?

Don’t be intimidated by asking this question. Inquiring about potential full-time work sets the tone to the employers that you are keen to work in a long-term setting. Retention is always a plus.

There’s still an ongoing debacle whether or not an internship is necessary for job securement. According to the survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in the class of 2019 students, 57.5% of the students who received a job offer underwent an internship. Character references and recommendations from previous work experience – in this case, from your internship – boosts your chance in getting that job offer.

In a nutshell, when interviewing for your internship:

  • BE INTERESTED. There’s nothing more flattering than showing a genuine interest in the company.
  • BE PREPARED. An internship is your training ground. Before showing up for the interview, research about the company and position. Prepare the appropriate outfit, resume, even with a cover letter and other requirements the night before the interview.
  • BE PRESENT. Don’t get too occupied with memorizing the questions you have listed. Sometimes, the best interviews naturally flow if you stay present in the moment.

Your questions should have a dual purpose: making the company feel good that you have a genuine interest in them and branding yourself as a valuable prospect that the company would want to invest in. Keep in mind that you need to be as picky about choosing an internship as much as the companies are picky in hiring interns. You will be spending a reasonable amount of time honing your skills and learning valuable practical lessons through that internship, so make sure it is as beneficial to you as it is to them.

Author: Carol Bell