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6 common interview questions and how to answer them

May 14, 2019 10:02 IST

The interviewer wants to know you beyond your resume and wants to gauge if you'd be an asset to the company, says Sarvesh Agrawal.

How to crack an interview

Internship interviews are the real battle for every student.

However, you'll be surprised to know that with the right guidance, it is easier to answer those nerve-wracking internship interview questions.

What's important is a little preparation. Otherwise it'd be equivalent to jumping into the sea without a life-jacket on.

How good would it be if you could prepare the answers before-hand?

So, let's have a look at the 6 most common interview questions and how to answer them to help you to sail through your interview blissfully.

1. Tell me about yourself

This is one of the most frequently asked interview questions and yet most of us stumble here.

Quick tip -- don't read out your resume because that's not what the interviewer is looking for.

The interviewer wants to know you beyond your resume and wants to gauge if you'd be an asset to the company.

Follow the simple 'present, past, and future technique' to streamline your answer.

Start off with a condensed career summary, mentioning your educational background and interests which segue into the past to establish a connection between your interests and the internship you're applying for.

Here, you can talk about the projects and programs you've participated in and reflect your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments.

Conclude with your future goals (if you have any) or simply talk about your hobbies at the end, and voila, you move on to the next question without any red flags being raised!

2. Why should you be hired for this internship?

There are two things that the employer wants to know -- your skill set and your personality traits.

An effective why should we hire you answer is one where you relate your past knowledge or internship experience (if any), technical and soft skills, key accomplishments, participation in extracurricular activities with the position you're applying for as well as explain why you're applying for that particular position.

To do so, read the job description and make sure you are a fit.

Tie your educational background to the responsibilities you will have to handle during the internship. Next, highlight your personal characteristics and reinforce them with examples.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is one of the top interview questions and through it, the employer wants to learn about your competencies and motivation to improve on your weak points.

The key to acing this interview question lies in answering truthfully.

Go through the job description and see what skills and traits of yours are relevant to the internship role.

Knowing your personal strengths would come easy but again, a little preparation helps. For instance, instead of saying you get along with others well, you can say you are a team player and back it up with an instance from your college project.

Another approach you could follow while establishing the authenticity of your strengths is using Problem-Action-Result wherein you state an incident where you used this strength to overcome this problem and the consequences it had.

While highlighting your personal characteristics along with practical examples speak well for your strengths, answering what are your weaknesses can be tricky.

Make sure you do not project anything negative.

Try voicing your weakness as a learning experience or a challenge and how you overcame it. For instance, socialising used to be a challenge for me but I joined various clubs at college and now I can safely say that I have overcome it.

4. Why do you want to intern at our company? or Why do you want this job/internship?

Absolutely avoid mentioning that you're doing it only because MHRD has mandated 3 internships or to fulfill your curriculum requirements.

Through this interview question, the employer wants to know how much you have researched about the company and how much you're aware of the related field.

Say for instance, you're being interviewed for an internship at RBI and if you talk about the recent financial trends and the recent decisions that RBI took, it could be a total game changer.

Highlight the aspects of the company that made you apply there while answering why do you want to intern there.

The easiest way to do this is by listing out what makes you admire the organisation; this may include its products/services, the work culture, the marketing campaigns, etc.

Begin with devouring the company website and learning about their products/services and the work culture.

Going through the media coverage of a company and connecting with employees via LinkedIn helps when you are finding out about a company's growth.

If you've heard about the company from a friend, feel free to mention that and back your answer with what interested you to work there.

Next, add what you expect to learn from the position and the company and include a bit on how you could contribute to the company.

5. What are your career goals?

Employers ask this to understand your current aspirations better and to check if this internship aligns with your future goals, and thus ensuring that you'll be motivated to learn.

A few other employers use this question to ascertain whether or not you will continue with the company if offered a permanent position.

Link your future plans to the internship role that you are applying for. Mention the skills and experiences you want to gain in this internship and how it would help you in the future.

While preparing an answer to this question, you don't necessarily think of your long-term goals; dig down and think what are you going to do once the internship is over -- would you go back to college, would you be interested in continuing with the organisation, would you start looking for jobs/internships in the same field, etc.

6. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes. Always say yes!

This is a final interview question through which an employer wants to gauge how enthusiastic you are about working with the organisation.

Not asking a question will mean that either you haven't done proper research about the company or are not very keen on doing the internship.

All you need to do is a little homework before going for the interview; research about the company and go through the job description thoroughly.

Jot down the areas you'd like to know more about; you could ask questions about their product/services, campaigns, your responsibilities, the expectations they would have from you, the growth that you can expect from the internship, or the work culture.

Image published for representational purposes only.

Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform.

Sarvesh Agrawal