The Internship Interview
Essential Guide

The internship interview is both an opportunity to highlight your suitability for the internship job and an opportunity for you to assess if there is a good fit between the internship and your career and learning goals.

Internship concept graphic with text relating to internship behavioral interviews

Feel prepared and confident for your internship job search by anticipating the likely internship interview questions you will be asked. Answering these questions confidently and professionally ensures you stand out as an impressive internship job candidate.

Be ready for these 4 knowledge-based internship interview questions

Generally questions around the knowledge requirements for the internship job can be answered by reviewing your internship resume as they refer directly to your qualifications and training and whatever work experience you have.

These knowledge requirements will vary depending on the employer and the type of internship you are looking at. However you can expect  interview questions such as:

"Which of your courses or activities has helped prepare you for this internship?

"What is your dissertation about and how did you decide on the topic."

"What factors did you consider when choosing your major?"

"Why did you choose the extracurricular activities you did?"

Behavioral internship interview questions and answers

Internship candidates generally lack professional experiences so internship interview questions will focus on the necessary competencies or behaviors for the position rather than work-related questions.

Based on the premise that your past performance is the best predictor of your future performance, you will be asked competency-based (behavioral) questions that require you to provide specific examples of when you have previously demonstrated that competency.

Reflect on your past experiences, select appropriate examples and plan your answers using the following STAR structure:

  • Describe the specific situation or task you were involved in (ST)
  • Detail the action and steps you took (A)
  • Outline the results and outcome of your actions. What happened, what was accomplished, what did you learn? (R)

Expect internship interview questions that explore these key competencies required for an internship job.


"Give me an example of when you have done more than required in a course."

"Describe a time you have had to overcome a major obstacle."

"Tell me about a time that you improved on an established way of doing something."

In your interview answer describe your ability to be

  • proactive
  • to take imaginative steps to overcome obstacles
  • generate new ideas
  • take advantage of opportunities
  • do more than required

If you have no work experience to draw on, refer to your course, your school activities and your extracurricular and sports participation to find examples. Make sure the example clearly relates to the competency.


"Tell me about a situation where you had to do research and analyze the results for a complex assignment."

What types of information did you use to choose your school, how did you evaluate it?"

"Describe a tough academic decision you had to make, how did you go about this?"

"Describe a situation where your initial approach failed and you had to try something different to meet your result."

In your interview answer show your ability to gather relevant information and identify issues or problems. Describe how:

  • you organized the information
  • compared data from different sources
  • considered alternatives
  • identified the most appropriate course of action taking into consideration your resources and any constraints

Planning and Organizing

"Tell me about a time you had a particularly heavy course load, how did you manage your time?"

"Describe how you have balanced your academic work with your extracurricular activities."

"What objectives have you set for this year, what steps have you taken to ensure that you are on track?"

In your interview answer show your ability to:

  • plan ahead
  • determine priorities
  • establish schedules
  • manage deadlines

Describe how you have effectively managed competing priorities, multi-tasked and achieved the necessary outcomes.

Good time management interview questions and answers

Learn and apply new information

The internship interview will explore your ability to learn quickly and willingly.

"Give an example of when you were able to learn something complex in a short period of time."

Work as a member of a team

"Tell me about a situation when you had to work with other students to achieve an objective."

"Give me an example of when you had to gain cooperation from someone who was being difficult."

"Describe a group project of which you are particularly proud, what was your contribution?"

In your interview answer describe:

  • how you have worked effectively as part of a team or group to reach an objective
  • your ability to respect the needs and demands of other team members and to make a valuable contribution

If you have no work experience you can refer to group assignments or projects, team sporting activities and community work you may have been involved in.

Work Standards

The employer will also want to investigate your work standards during the internship interview. Expect questions like:

"Tell me about the course that has given you the most problems. How have you handled it?"

"As a student how did you define good performance? Give me an example of when you achieved this."

For a comprehensive guide to mastering competency-based or behavioral questions go to the behavioral interview guide

The employer will explore your motivation for this internship.

"What do you expect or hope to gain from this internship?"

In your interview answer:

  • focus on the skills you will learn and how they will benefit you going forward.
  • explain the value of applying your theoretical knowledge in a real work situation
  • highlight the job competencies you will develop and how you will implement these in your future career

Standard internship interview questions

Your interview will also include some standard job interview questions. View these typical interview questions with sample answers by clicking on job interview questions and answers

This interview is the final step to being accepted for your internship, put the effort into preparing properly for it and you are on your way to success.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as an intern demonstrates important insight into yourself, a quality that is critical to your success and one that future employers value.

Students strengths and weaknesses list

How to handle salary expectations for your internship application

Image of tablet with internship opportunity and laptop on desk

Discussing your salary expectations on your internship application or during your internship interview can be tricky.

Internships can be paid or unpaid. If the internship you are interviewing for is unpaid there will be no need to discuss salary expectations as you have already accepted that there is no pay.

Many established internships have pre-defined salaries and there is little to no room for negotiation. In this case you are expected to accept the stated salary if you accept the internship. 

If no salary has been defined and you are asked what your salary expectations are for the internship, you should provide an acceptable and fairly wide salary range based on research you have conducted on similar paying internships in similar industries and locations. Don't be too specific and try to keep the focus on your enthusiasm for the internship rather than your salary expectations

You can simply say: " My salary expectations are based on similar internships which are currently paying between $X and $X.  I am very excited about this particular internship and I am happy to discuss a salary that fits with your budget."

When responding to questions about your salary expectations on your internship job application you can simply put the following:

"open to negotiation"


'to be discussed"

Internship interview tips

We answer your questions about internship job interviews at internship interview tips.

How to send the right message in your interview. Communication Tips

Find out how to reduce interview stress

How to dress for internship job interviews on a limited budget and with a limited working wardrobe.

You may be required to provide a character reference . Find out more at Sample Character Reference Letter

How to introduce yourself in an internship interview

Candidates often ask "How do you introduce yourself in an internship interview?" Follow these basic rules of the first introduction to get it right.

  • Stand up when meeting the interviewer, make eye contact and firmly shake the interviewer's hand
  • Staying seated while shaking hands shows a lack of respect
  • Greet the interviewer by name "I am pleased to meet you Mr Harris"
  • Do not use first names unless the interviewer asks you to, keep it professional

Tell me about yourself internship interview sample answers

Once the interview is under way the interviewer is likely to start the ball rolling by asking you "Tell me about yourself?"

You can find out how to respond properly and professionally to this question at Tell me about yourself

What questions should I ask the interviewer?

Have a list of good questions ready to ask in your internship interview.

Examples include:

"Could you describe the tasks and assignments I will be involved in?"

"Who are the people I will be working with?"

"Is there an orientation program in place?"

Go to the list of questions to ask the interviewer for examples of good questions to ask your interviewer.

After the internship interview

Use this sample internship interview thank you letter to follow up after the interview.

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