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Ace Your Internship Interview

Laura Varela / January 21st, 2021

Young adults can gain valuable work and life experience from internships. Some intern positions are paid; some are not. If they are not paid positions, they usually count as academic credit toward graduation and tend to have more flexible schedules. Though the Labor Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics don't track the numbers of paid vs. unpaid internships, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, found that in 2019, 61% of interns were paid, with unpaid internships being common in the social services industry. The survey also found that 70% of employers offer full-time jobs to interns and 80% of students accept the offer. 

Whether you're seeking a paid or unpaid position, here's some advice to help you ace your next internship interview:

  • Make a good first impression. Be on time, make eye contact, and be yourself. 
  • Be prepared. Prepare for an internship interview just as you would for a regular job interview. Select appropriate clothing and conduct research about the company before the interview. Bring a copy of your résumé with you in case the interviewer does not have one on hand.
  • Prepare for "internship" questions. Since internship candidates often lack professional job experience, many interviewing companies focus on behaviors rather than experience. Be prepared to describe your ability to learn; your initiative; your problem-solving, planning, and organizing skills; and your contribution to teamwork.
  • Understand the questions before answering. You want to know exactly what the interviewer is asking, so if you don't understand the question it's OK to ask the interview to clarify it.
  • Focus on skills and accomplishments. Talk about your high-school and college coursework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and computer and language skills. It's also important to talk about previous internships and other work experience while highlighting your communication, organization, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.

Internships, whether paid or unpaid, will give you an opportunity to test out a career that matches your academic and personal interests. You will get insight into the industry, improve your resume, and build your professional network.

 



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