Job Interview Tips

5 Questions to Always Ask at an Internship Interview

internship interview
Written by Peter Jones

You’re all prepped and ready, and you’ve sailed through your internship interview. You’re all dressed up and feeling like a power adult and then: WOMP. The interviewer asks you a question you will probably come to dread in your job-searching life, but aren’t quite prepared for now: “What questions do you have for us?”

Even seasoned pros can get tripped up at this point in an interview. But you can dazzle your interviewer by not skipping a beat and asking the following five questions in your internship interview. Plus, you’ll get necessary information you probably didn’t realize you needed.

1. How would you describe the work culture here?

Getting a feel for the atmosphere, the pace, the camaraderie or lack thereof, is really important in determining whether you’d be a good fit. Ask the recruiter to sketch out what happens in a typical day. Whether there is an established routine, and how exact it is.

2. What is your favorite aspect of working for this company?

They probably won’t be expecting this one, so it’s your chance to turn the tables a bit. Push for a real answer. (Though you probably won’t have to; remember the interview process is also about the hiring manager selling you on the job. Give them the chance to sweeten it up for you!)

3. What have interns done before me that really made them stand out?

This does double duty. It shows you’re hungry to impress them and excel, and it also gives you a great leg up, if you were to land the position, on how to hit the ground running. Listen very carefully, and take good notes.

4. Is there anything I can clarify for you?

And the follow-up: “Or any hesitations about my qualifications?” It’s bold and assertive without being too pushy and shows that you’re eager to prove your worth to them while being sensitive to their precise needs for the position.

5. What will the next step in this process be?

You know you’re going to go home and sweat this out. But you probably don’t realize you’re allowed to ask for a ballpark timeline of what to expect and when. It’s also a great way to bring an interview to a close. If they say they’re still interviewing for another 4-6 weeks, then you’ll know not to sit at home by your phone for the next month.

Note any important dates in your calendar, and make sure to leave a friendly and positive impression as you leave the office. Eventually, this process will get easier!

About the author

Peter Jones