Attending an internship interview can feel daunting, particularly when you’re up against a number of strong candidates! Let’s make the process less stressful by presenting some of the best possible questions to ask.
Interviews are highly pressured for both parties. As an applicant, you want to put your best foot forward and appear engaged, motivated, and well-suited to the company’s requirements. As an interviewer, you equally want to gauge how well a prospective intern would slot into your team and whether they have the personal skills to excel.
One common misconception is that candidates should simply show up prepared to tackle any tricky questions that come their way. Businesses, however, don’t just want interns with the aptitude and enthusiasm to perform well but junior colleagues who are invested in their success and have the maturity and professionalism to ask interesting and relevant questions.
We’ve looked at some of the best digital marketing agencies and organizations to assess why they chose their latest interns – and the questions they asked that made them stand out from the crowd.
1. What Career Progression Opportunities Does This Internship Offer?
Internships are a bit like starting on the bottom rung of the ladder and are an important way to establish yourself. You can learn from experienced mentors, get to know your sector and chosen specialism from behind the curtain, and gain real-world relationships and on-the-job abilities as you go.
When you ask the interviewer about the prospects and opportunities available to you, it shows that you mean business and are potentially considering other positions to see which is the right fit for you.
Interns who are actively trying to grow and progress are appealing to businesses, and this is also a great way to decide for yourself whether it’s the right vacancy for you, looking at the learning support on offer and whether there is the potential to apply for a promotion at some point.
Some businesses take on interns or apprentices as a fast-track way to train an entry-level staff member, with no experience, with a view to offering them a promotion at the end of the contract. Still, if you don’t ask, you might find yourself left in the dark, wondering whether there is much of a future with this employer!
2. What Duties and Responsibilities Will I Be Expected to Cover as an Intern?
There is a distinct potential that a junior role will involve some basic duties, from taking notes during meetings to handling the morning coffee run, answering the phone, and passing messages to more senior colleagues – but this is all part of the learning process.
However, it’s also important you have a good idea about exactly what is expected of you and whether the day-to-day is likely to meet your expectations.
Interviewers are more likely to be interested in hiring interns who are keen to see whether they match the job spec – and that the job matches what they are looking for, ensuring both sides have a good grasp of what level of responsibility you would be taking on.
In a digital marketing apprenticeship, for instance, you might be tasked with a wide scope of jobs, from writing draft content to helping with graphics editing, monitoring campaign performance, or tracking metrics on client websites.
Alongside general tasks, it’s also well worth understanding if there are any targets or quotas you’d be expected to hit so you can go into the post ready and prepared.
3. How Welcoming Is the Business/Digital Marketing Team of New Interns?
Most businesses welcome new apprentices and interns – they command a lower salary than an experienced and qualified team member, bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm, and often encourage any colleagues who have become a little complacent to up their game to show the intern the right way to get things done.
Unfortunately, there are some businesses where the culture feels a little less welcoming, or interns are expected to ‘prove themselves’ before they are given job security or more advanced responsibilities to show their capabilities.
This question is partly about posing thoughtful queries but also gives you a background about the values and ethos of the business to establish whether it’s the right internship for you.
You can also learn valuable details about the working hours, whether digital marketing staff are expected to work unpaid overtime, and whether there are established support structures to help new colleagues find their feet – such as an onboarding or induction process.
4. What Are the Most Important Qualities I Could Bring to This Role?
If you’ve been invited to an interview, you already know you have the baseline fundamentals the company is looking for in terms of personal skills, experience, or educational achievements. Asking about the qualities that are most meaningful to the role shows an interviewer that:
- You care about your choice of internship and want to make informed choices about the position that aligns well with your existing capabilities and know-how.
- You want to understand more about what the company is looking for – their core objectives and what they want from their intern.
It’s also common for a recruiter to want interns with soft skills that aren’t always so easy to show on your resume – think problem-solving, well-spoken communications, the ability to work in a busy team, or juggle priorities.
Any requirements that crop up and which you haven’t covered, give you a gap to respond and explain how you fit the brief or discuss ways to access training or learning to help you meet those expectations.
5. Who Would I Report to, and How Would They Appraise My Performance?
Your interviewer, or one interview panel member, may well be the manager or supervisor you’d be reporting to or shadowing. If you know this in advance, you’ll be in a great position on day one – and can make sure you remember their name!
Asking about performance is also a valid question any credible company will be happy to answer, and it shows that you are invested in making a great impression and performing the role to the best of your abilities.
If there is an appraisal process in place, perhaps once a week, month, or quarter, you can also ask about the criteria, target-setting, and evaluations and whether you’ll be able to chat about your performance with your line manager to find out where you’re doing well, and where you have room for improvement.
Some internships won’t impose any performance appraisal on a new staff member or introduce regular assessments until you have had a minimum amount of time in the role. Others will assign you a mentor you can learn from and ask questions, but knowing how this all works will ensure you don’t encounter any surprises.
Asking the Right Questions During an Internship Interview
Communication is a hugely important skill across the digital marketing sector, and by posing well-prepared questions, you can build a rapport with an interviewer that is far more memorable and interesting than simply sitting back and waiting for them to do the heavy lifting.
It is, however, important to wait for the right moment, usually when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them – this is the moment in so many interviews when a deafening silence descends, making everybody feel a little awkward!
Having at least two or three questions in your back pocket will ensure you have something appropriate and contextual to ask, showing that you’ve done your research, aren’t necessarily looking for any internship you can get, and are serious about following your career aspirations.
While it’s wise to steer clear of vague, random, and seemingly irrelevant questions or quizzing an interviewer about your holiday entitlement before you’ve been offered the job, this is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your character and interest.
Feel like you’re ready to take the plunge? Browse our current marketing job vacancies on the Digital Marketing Jobs Board or upload your resume, and you’ll be well on your way to that all-important interview invitation.