How High School Students Can Prepare for an Internship Interview
High school is the perfect time to explore your interests, try new things, and consider your future career. What better place to do that than in an actual workplace?
An internship with a local business is a great opportunity to learn more about a profession or industry that interests you. Many business owners are happy to help the next generation learn more about their field and gain valuable experience. But, it’s important that they know that you will be a positive addition to their workplace. This is why the internship interview is so important.
Why do I need to interview?
A business owner wants to make sure that everyone working for them, from the top executives to the newest interns, represents the company well. Just like anyone interviewing for a job, a prospective intern needs to present their best self in an internship interview.
Additionally, interns are almost always unskilled or untrained. Experienced employees welcome the chance to pass on their knowledge, but only to someone who is willing and eager to learn. Before taking on the additional work of training an intern, they want to make sure that person is the right fit and is motivated.
So how can you prepare for an internship interview? There are a few key things you can do, even as a high school student.
Learn about the business
One of the best ways to show that you are motivated to do well and learn is to do a lot of your research before you even get to the interview. Your interviewer will be impressed when you can speak about the work that the company does accurately. It shows that you took the time to learn about them and why you want to gain experience in that workplace.
Explore these resources to find out more about the business where you would like to intern.
The company website. The first place to look is at what the company actually shares with the public. Most businesses have a website that includes a mission statement or purpose, a description of the products or services they provide, and some information about company culture. You should also look at the employee or hiring pages, if possible, to see what they look for in a new hire. Chances are that they value the same traits in a new intern.
The Chamber of Commerce. Local businesses often participate in the Chamber of Commerce. You can find information about the business itself as well as the role that it plays in your community. Many Chambers of Commerce host events that invite the public to meet and network with local business leaders.
Yelp, Social Media, and other Customer Platforms. Are you going to working in a customer service role? Look through some customer reviews online to see what the public thinks of the business. Consider both the positive and negative reviews, but avoid referencing them during your actual interview. There may be issues behind a negative review that you are unaware of and bringing it up could send the wrong message to your interviewer.
Practice, practice, practice
Interviews can be intimidating for anyone. Practicing beforehand with a friend or family member will help you collect your thoughts and be ready for the interview.
Common interview questions include:
- Tell me a little bit about yourself.
- Why do you want to intern at our company?
- What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are your long-term goals?
- Describe a situation where you had to work under pressure.
- Describe a situation where you disagreed with a coworker or teammate.
- Industry-specific questions:
How would you handle a disgruntled customer?
How do you work with tight deadlines?
How do you manage your time during the day?
How do you handle sensitive personal information?
Do a dry run
The last thing that you want is to show up late to your internship interview. Doing a full dry run prior to the actual interview will help you identify any potential issues, such as not having appropriate professional attire or an unusual traffic pattern that could cause delays. Moreover, bring copies of your resume to the interview.
Get any issues fixed before the big day so that you can make it to your interview on time looking professional and feeling confident.
An internship is a valuable opportunity to learn more about a career that interests you, gain experience, and develop a strong work ethic while working within a team. The internship interview is the perfect place to demonstrate your value to a potential new boss and mentor, unlocking professional doors that can benefit you for years to come.
Prepare for that day by learning, practicing, and working out all the potential logistics obstacles. You’ll walk into your interview with confidence, knowing that you are the best person for the internship.
Written by JASON PATEL, Former Career Ambassador at the George Washington University and Founder, Transizion.