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45 intern interview questions to evaluate fit and skills

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With the right internship program, interns can play a vital role in your organization.  

Most interns are fresh out of college and eager to learn more, making them an asset to any team that needs extra support and fresh perspectives. They can provide insights that aren’t readily apparent to more experienced employees – and are generally in tune with new trends in their fields.

Internship programs can also serve as a strategic talent pipeline for future full-time roles. By hiring interns, you get the opportunity to evaluate and train potential future employees in a real-world setting, reducing the costs and risks of hiring.

But how do you hire interns?

Sourcing the right talent can be tricky because they don’t have much to show on their resumes. You still want them to have certain abilities like strong time management and organizational skills, as well as excellent communication, to perform well on the job. 

The best way to evaluate skills is to use pre-employment skills testing coupled with the right interview questions for interns. This will enable you to hire skilled and smart individuals in no time. 

In this article, we’ll go through the best ways to evaluate interns’ skills and give you our top picks for targeted intern interview questions. Plus, you’ll find our guidelines on the answers you should be looking for when interviewing candidates.

How to evaluate interns’ skills

It’s easy to assess interns’ skills with the right tools. Pre-employment skills testing helps you assess someone’s skills before you hire them.  They’ll enable you not only to avoid bad hires and reduce hiring bias, but you’ll also be able to quickly shortlist the best candidates that you can then invite for an interview – which will significantly simplify your recruitment process. 

TestGorilla offers numerous skills tests for the different internship roles you might be hiring for. Our top picks to use when hiring an intern are: 

  • Communication test: This test will help you assess your intern’s ability to communicate clearly and efficiently, listen carefully, and understand the company’s procedures and protocols.

  • Time management test: This test will evaluate someone’s ability to manage their time, set priorities, and adhere to deadlines.

  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving is a key skill to look for in any intern, as you’ll want them to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to challenges they face. 

You can combine those with personality and culture tests or role-specific tests to build a tailored assessment for each internship role.

Using the above tests, in combination with the right interview questions, will enable you to:

15 general intern interview questions and answers

In this section, we’ll go over the best interview questions to ask applicants and find talented interns for your organization. We’ve included our guidelines on what to look for and how to assess their answers.

1. Can you tell us why you're interested in this internship and what you hope to gain from it?

Look for candidates who have done their homework about your company and the internship program. 

They should be able to articulate how the internship aligns with their background, skills, or career goals. Strong candidates will express a genuine interest in learning and a desire to contribute meaningfully to your team. They might also mention specific skills or experiences they hope to gain, demonstrating their proactive approach to personal and professional development.

2. How do you feel this internship aligns with your career goals?

This question helps you dig deeper into candidates’ motivations to apply for an internship at your company. 

Not all candidates will have everything mapped out, career-wise, and that’s okay; look for the ones who are able to explain how the internship fits into their broader professional journey. 

Still, candidates should be able to articulate some of their career goals, at least in the medium term, and explain how this role serves as a stepping stone towards achieving them. Successful applicants will demonstrate ambition and a forward-thinking mindset.

3. How do you think you can contribute to our team during your internship?

Use this as a follow-up question to the previous two.

Here, you can expect candidates to identify specific skills or perspectives they can bring to your team. They should mention relevant coursework, projects, or extracurricular activities that have prepared them to contribute actively to your organization. 

Look for candidates who show a strong willingness to learn, adapt, and take on challenges. Highlighting teamwork, communication skills, or a particular technical skill relevant to the role indicates they've come well-prepared for the interview.

4. What motivates you to do your best work?

Candidates should demonstrate self-awareness by identifying what drives them, whether it's solving complex problems, working in a team, growing professionally, or contributing to the organization’s overall success. 

Look for responses that match your company's culture and values. To go a step further, you can use TestGorilla’s:

  • Motivation test to gain deeper insights into how candidates’ expectations align with what you can offer

  • Culture Add test to make sure their values align with yours

5. What projects have you worked on that are relevant to this role?

Expect candidates to discuss projects that demonstrate relevant skills and knowledge. 

They should articulate project objectives, their role, the skills they applied, and the outcomes. This question helps assess applicants’ practical experience and, importantly, their ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations. It also provides insight into their problem-solving and teamwork skills.

6. Tell me about a project you completed from start to finish. How did you approach it and what was the result?

This question is about how candidates do things rather than simply what they did, so don’t hesitate to steer the discussion in that direction, if needed. 

Candidates should be able to outline how they planned, executed, and finalized the project, and explain what the outcome was. 

Look for a structured approach to project management, including setting clear goals, prioritizing tasks, and managing time and resources effectively – all of which are key skills for nearly any role. Successful candidates will also reflect on what they learned and how it applies to future projects.

7. Give an example of a goal you set and achieved and how you accomplished it.

Look for candidates who set ambitious yet realistic goals and who know how to measure results. This question also assesses candidates’ perseverance and adaptability. Ideal responses will also include a self-assessment of their performance and key takeaways from the experience.

8. Describe a situation where you took the initiative to solve a problem.

Applicants should discuss a situation in which they identified a problem, took ownership without being prompted to do so, came up with a solution, and then implemented it. This demonstrates strong critical thinking skills and shows candidates understand the value of being proactive in a team environment. 

Look out for candidates who can show how they anticipate potential issues and act to prevent them. This is a sign of leadership potential.

9. What was the biggest professional or academic challenge you've faced and how did you overcome it?

Expect candidates to share a specific major challenge that tested their skills or resilience. Look for details about the context and the strategies they used to address it. 

Look for stories that include seeking advice or mentorship; the capacity to ask others for help demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence and is invaluable when working in a team. Candidates who can articulate what they learned from the situation and how it has prepared them for future challenges show reflective thinking and adaptability.

10. Describe a time when you had to work closely with others as a team.

In their response, candidates should show their ability to communicate effectively, support others, and contribute to a team's success. Look for examples that illustrate: 

  • Their role in the team

  • Specific teamwork and conflict resolution strategies they used

  • How they helped others do their best work

11. Describe a time when you had to learn a new technology or tool quickly.

Adaptability and resilience are vital for businesses, as the World Economic Forum points out – and the employees’ and interns’ ability to learn new skills or technologies is central to this. 

Candidates should first explain the context in which they needed to learn the new technology or tool, how they approached the learning process, and what they did exactly to gain the necessary skills. 

Successful candidates will mention specific resources they used, such as:

  • Tutorials and online courses

  • How-to guides and user manuals

  • Online forums

This question assesses candidates' learning agility, resourcefulness, and their approach to problem-solving when faced with technological challenges.

12. If you had multiple tasks with the same deadline, how would you prioritize your work?

Junior hires can easily get overwhelmed, so look for answers that describe a clear strategy for managing a busy schedule. 

Candidates should describe how they assess the importance, urgency, and potential impact of each task, allocate their time, and negotiate deadlines if necessary. Look out for answers that demonstrate the ability to communicate with supervisors or team members to clarify expectations and adjust priorities.

Some candidates might also mention using prioritization frameworks, such as the Eisenhower Matrix, or tools for task management. 

13. If you noticed a mistake in your work that no one else caught, what would you do?

This is a tricky question that helps you evaluate candidates’ accountability, honesty, and integrity. Expect them to say they’d act to correct the mistake immediately and talk about it with their supervisor if necessary. Not all mistakes require coming forward and sharing them with others, but interns should err on the side of caution and know how to evaluate the significance of their error. 

Look for a thoughtful approach to identifying the root causes and learning from mistakes.

14. How would you handle a situation where you're given an important task but unclear instructions?

Candidates should be comfortable with asking for clarification and ensuring they understand tasks before they dive in. 

Look for answers that demonstrate strong communication skills. In such a situation, candidates could: 

  • Ask additional questions

  • Rephrase the requirements to make sure they understand them

  • Check available resources

  • Ask other team members for help

  • Start working on the task and ask for feedback

Whatever their specific approach, it should help them ensure accuracy and the ability to meet expectations in situations of ambiguity.

15. What questions do you have about our company and this internship?

Interviews can be stressful, especially for candidates who have little to no professional experience. This question is an excellent opportunity to show them that you value their time and are happy to give them more information to help them make a decision, which, in turn, helps guarantee a positive candidate experience.

Plus, if candidates are genuinely interested in your internship program, they’d be eager to ask you additional questions – so, it’s a great way to gauge their motivation, too. 

Their questions can reveal how much they know about your industry or company and whether they’ve truly considered their potential fit, contributions, and even long-term opportunities. 

Role-specific internship interview questions 

In this section, you’ll find 30 interview questions for internship roles in different departments. You can use them along with the more general questions above and see whether candidates have the right skills for the role. 

Although they’ll have little in the way of professional experience, they should still have a good understanding of strategies, best practices, or current trends in their field. Those questions enable you to assess just that. 

5 interview questions for software developer interns

Software developers looking for internship opportunities will still have some coding and tech experience. You can assess it with those questions: 

  1. How would you approach debugging a piece of code that's not working as expected?

  2. Can you describe the software development lifecycle?

  3. What is object-oriented programming, and can you provide examples of its use?

  4. How do you ensure your code is clean and maintainable?

  5. What experience do you have with version control systems, such as Git?

5 interview questions for marketing interns

Marketing is a very dynamic field; the questions below enable you to evaluate not just applicants’ knowledge but their approach to gathering information and insights. 

  1. How would you conduct market research for a new product?

  2. How would you measure the success of a marketing campaign?

  3. How would you market our product or service to a new target audience?

  4. How important do you think SEO is in marketing today?

  5. What's the role of AI in marketing today? Can you give me examples of possible ways to use AI to support marketing? 

5 interview questions for finance interns

Use the questions below to evaluate candidates’ suitability for your finance internship program: 

  1. How would you assess a company's financial health?

  2. Describe an experience where you used financial data to solve a problem or make a recommendation.

  3. Can you explain the difference between cash-based and accrual accounting?

  4. What methods would you use to evaluate an investment opportunity?

  5. How would you approach creating a budget for a project or department?

5 interview questions for graphic design interns

Similarly to software developers, graphic designers will likely already have some hands-on experience with design, even before their first full-time role. Evaluate their skills with those questions:

  1. Can you describe your design process from concept to completion?

  2. How do you incorporate feedback into your designs?

  3. What software tools are you proficient in for graphic design?

  4. Can you discuss a design project you are most proud of?

  5. How do you ensure your designs are user-friendly and accessible?

5 interview questions for HR interns

HR interns should have a solid understanding of HR fundamentals, which you can assess with our test and the following questions: 

  1. How would you handle a conflict between two team members?

  2. What strategies would you use to improve employee engagement?

  3. What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of HR management?

  4. How would you approach setting up a training and onboarding program for new employees?

  5. What HR areas are you most interested in, and why?

5 interview questions for sales interns

Sales interns are not likely to have direct sales experience, unless they’re changing fields. Still, you can get an idea of their sales skills with the help of those questions: 

  1. What strategies would you use to research and identify potential clients?

  2. Can you tell us about a successful negotiation you've been a part of?

  3. What do you think are the most important qualities for success in sales?

  4. How would you stay organized and manage your time effectively in a sales role?

  5. A potential client is asking you to give them a discount you cannot offer. What would you do?

Hire the best interns with TestGorilla

Hiring skilled interns for your organization will be easy if you opt for a hiring process that involves skills testing and the right interview questions. 

Technical skills can be learned on the job, especially when you’re training employees (and interns). But when you’re hiring interns, you want to make sure they have excellent communication, time-management, and problem-solving skills. 

Skills tests, along with the right interview questions, will help you get an objective overview of your candidate pool and hire talented interns. 

So, don’t waste any more time. Schedule a free demo to chat with one of our experts, or simply sign up for your free TestGorilla plan today – and start recruiting tomorrow.


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