Advice

Common Internship Interview Questions to Prep For

Congrats on your interview! Here are some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them effectively. Keep reading for our advice on how to ace your interview!

Leila Le Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 7 min read

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com / Unsplash

Preparing for an upcoming internship interview? Congratulations! The internship interview process is your opportunity to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the role. The interview is also your chance to ask relevant questions about the internship program – so don’t forget to do this too! With that in mind, here are some generic internship interview questions you should be prepared to answer:

1. Tell me about yourself.

The reason interviewers ask this question is to get a sense of who you are as a person and how your personality would fit in with the company's culture. Some interviewers may also use this question as a way to see how well you can articulate your thoughts and experiences. You'll want to avoid just repeating off items listed in your resume – try to showcase things about yourself that an interviewer wouldn't be able to see just by looking at your resume.

The key to this questions is to not ramble – most candidates end up going on a long tangent about their upbringing or educational history. This is not the time for that – you want to focus on giving a short, but interesting introduction about yourself and why you're here

If you were applying to a company like DoorDash, here's a great example:

Hi my name is Michael and I'm a junior at Stanford studying CS. I grew up on the east coast (big Penguins fan!). Last summer, I interned at Meta building AI models for voice recognition – ultimately, I realized that what I loved most was actually working with more consumer-facing products.

I'm a huge foodie, and consequently a big DoorDash user – I've got a list of hundreds of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area. Super excited to interviewing with you guys!
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On the topic of resumes: looking for the ideal resume template for college students and new-grads? Check out this blog post on our best tips for your resume!

2. What are your strengths?

Interviewers ask this question to get a sense of your self-awareness and to see how you view your own strengths and weaknesses. They may also be looking for specific qualities or skills that are relevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires a lot of public speaking, the interviewer may want to know if you consider yourself to be a good communicator. When answering this question, you should try to be honest and focus on qualities that are genuinely relevant to the job.

Common pitfalls are simply listing off skills on your resume – don't do that! Again, the point of this question is to showcase your skills that may not be mentioned in your resume.

As an engineer, I'd say one of my proudest strengths beyond development is my obsession with the overall product. No matter what it is that I've worked on in the past – anything from coding a tic-tac-toe game to a complex web platform – I've always found a love in making sure the experience to the end-user is amazing. Combined with my development skills, I think I could work with the talented teams here at COMPANY to build some amazing products that users will love – and learn a lot on the way!
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Tip: Be honest about your weaknesses and try to frame them in a positive light. You want to avoid listing general qualities like hardworking or motivated. 

3. Why do you want to work for our company?

Interviewers ask this question to get a sense of your motivations and to see if you have a good understanding of the company. They want to know if you are truly interested in the company and the position, or if you are just applying for any job that you can find. When answering this question, you should focus on discussing qualities that you like about the company and why you think you would be a good fit for the organization.

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your interest in the company and the internship program. They want to make sure that you're not just applying for any old internship, but that you have a genuine interest in working for their company. The best way to answer this question is to do your research on the company beforehand and to be specific about why you think their internship program would be a good fit for you. For example, if you were applying to Meta:

I spend a lot time using of Meta's products – probably more than a healthy amount. I use Messenger to keep in touch with my friends, Instagram to share photos, and Facebook to save me time when logging into other services. Honestly, as much as I love these products, I think there's a lot of room for improvement – I have a bunch of ideas about how I could make Instagram more user-friendly, particularly to older audiences like my parents and grandparents. I think this internship would be super fun, and I'd learn a lot!
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Tip: Avoid sounding like you are just repeating what you have read on their website – try to add your own personal touch. You can browse through everything about the company on Simplify!

4. Describe a time when you had to overcome adversity.

Interviewers ask this question to get a sense of your resilience and to see how you handle challenges. They want to know if you are able to maintain your composure under pressure and if you are able to find creative solutions to problems. When answering this question, you should focus on a specific incident where you faced a significant challenge and explain what you did to overcome it. You should avoid discussing personal challenges that are not relevant to the job. Focus more on a professional or academic you were able to successfully overcome, and be sure to discuss specific steps that you took to overcome the challenge.

I once had a project that was due in two weeks, but my team was behind schedule and I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I took a step back and created a new plan that divided the work more evenly among team members and allowed us to complete the project on time. I learned from this experience that it is important to stay calm and level-headed when facing challenges. This experience has helped me to better manage my time and prioritize tasks effectively.

5. What are your future goals?

There are a few reasons why interviewers ask this question. One reason is to see if your long-term goals are compatible with the company's plans and if you would be willing to stay with the company for a long period of time. Another reason is to see if you are ambitious and have a plan for your future. This question can also show if you are looking to move up in the company and how soon you would like to do so. Your answer to this question will give the interviewer some insight into how well you would fit into the company and if you would be a good long-term investment for them. A great response would also incorporate why the company you're interviewing for would be great in supporting you toward your goal. For example:

In my ideal role, I really value being able to make an impact on the end user. I know that a lot of internships have interns piled in a back-office working on tools that will never get to a user (or even another human). I know that Meta interns are put on high-impact projects (I've heard the zoom-in feature on Instagram was built by an intern!) and that's definitely something I care about.

Another thing I value is a company culture that fosters community among employees and interns. Networking events, a speaker series, and fun happy hours are things that I really value in a job!

Be honest and genuine in your response. Explain how your goals align with the company's mission and vision. Be specific about what you hope to achieve and how you plan to contribute to the company's growth. Avoid sounding like you are only in it for yourself!

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Looking for great companies to start your career? Check out our list of exciting new-grad roles here!

6. What is your greatest achievement?

The interviewer is trying to get a sense of your professional accomplishments and what you are capable of achieving. Your response should briefly highlight a professional achievement that demonstrates your commitment to success and the positive impact you have had on your work. Be specific about what you accomplished and what role you played in obtaining the goal. Be sure to avoid boasting, which will come across as arrogant. Unique is the name of the game here – I've heard many candidates say things like, "in my programming class, I worked for days on end to build a pac-man game – it was super cool and we ended up scoring really well in the class."

Not to rain on your parade, but your interviewer has probably heard answers like this hundreds of times. Try to find something out of the box, maybe the time you helped your parents build a website for your family restaurant, or something of that nature. This answer should be unique, so I won't provide a sample answer.

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Tip: Frame your answer around how your professional accomplishments positively impacted your workplace.

7. Tell me about the biggest challenge you've faced.

There are a few reasons why interviewers might ask this question. They might be trying to assess your ability to learn from your mistakes, or they might be trying to get a sense of your problem-solving skills. Additionally, this question can help the interviewer get a sense of your self-awareness. When answering this question, be sure to explain what you learned from the experience and how you would do things differently if you found yourself in a similar situation. You'll want to use this as a way to showcase your ability to deal with challenges/failures while also mentioning a positive quality about yourself. For example:

When I was interning at Facebook, I was tasked with building an internal tool that would be used by both our machine learning team and data entry employees. Obviously, the concerns and needs from a machine learning engineer are drastically different from someone copying-and-pasting data. I had to figure out and balance the "wants" and "needs" of both parties – a process that took a lot of negotiating and Zoom calls.

At the very end though, I was able to build an MVP that both groups were (mostly) happy with, and is still being used by the team today. I even got some data entry experience along the way!

Practice makes perfect

Practicing interview questions will help you to become more comfortable answering them, and will also allow you to think about how you want to answer each question. It is important to remember that there is no one perfect way to answer any question – the key is to be honest, focus on relevant qualities, and be yourself.

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Ready to take on interviews? Check out Simplify's database of over 1,000,000+ jobs and internships here!