Acing your summer internship interviews

5 min read
HomeLearning HubAcing your summer internship interviews
After you apply for a summer internship, the next stage is the interview. This could include video submissions or attending group and individual assessment centres.
We asked Millie, who is a third year BComm student at University of Sydney about her experience applying for summer internship programs. Millie wanted to have internship experience up her sleeve in preparation for a graduate role in credit analysis after university.
She has documented her internship application process, and in part two, Millie walks through the interview process and shares her top tips for success.

What’s involved in an internship interview process?

So you’ve applied for the job, what’s next? Companies will generally provide updates on your application status once the application deadline has closed. They will notify you if you are successful (or unsuccessful) in progressing to the next stage of the process.
The next stage varies depending on the company - it can be a request to complete a video interview or complete psychometric testing. Each company will have a different process and it is worth being aware of their process so you know what is expected of you.
After completing many applications for internships, I received multiple offers to complete a video interview. This was not an interview with a recruiter, but rather a video recording of myself answering questions that appeared on the screen. This process predominantly involved being asked questions about previous job experiences and using the STAR method to answer questions.
Top tip: Refer back the application page where the interview’s timeline is listed so you can note these in your calendar to be prepared for when you might hear back about the next round. When doing video responses, make sure you are professional; be suitably dressed, in a quiet location and clear any noise and visual distractions. You only have a short time to catch the interest of the recruiter.

How do I excel in a group assessment centre?

The common next step for internship processes is an assessment centre. In the centres that I participated in, this involved a group activity and an individual interview. I completed the assessment centres for two companies: one was online and one was in-person.
There were many people applying for the same role, which can be daunting, as you need to ensure that the assessors can see your personality and what you are capable of. A prime opportunity to do this is the group activity.
In both centres that I participated in, the teams were given a scenario and we had to find a solution and then give a presentation to the assessors about our solution. It's important to note that the assessors are not just listening to your presentation, they are taking note of how you interact with your team and show your critical thinking skills.
Although this time is provided to show how you work to find solutions, it is also for showing how you work in a team. Being an extrovert can be beneficial in this situation, however being too extroverted and not letting your team members speak can impact you negatively. Some tips are to not interrupt your colleagues, ensure they are finished and acknowledge their ideas before providing any feedback.
On the other side of this, being too introverted and not contributing to the group discussion or presentation can be a downfall. I am confident with contributing to group discussions however I tend to struggle with presenting with little preparation. To combat this, I tried to ensure that my contributions were significant in the group discussion and requested that my part of the presentation was in an area that I felt confident in.
Top tip: Be self-aware of your personality type to help you excel in the team assessment centre. Remember, they are not only assessing your answers but how you are working as a team and whether you will fit in with their company culture.

What happens in the individual component of the assessment centre?

The other part of the assessment centre is the individual interview. This included the interviewer asking personal information and then situation-based questions.
It is highly relevant to know the STAR response technique when answering these questions as it covers the following:
  • Situation: What was the situation you were in? Try to set the scene.
  • Task: What were your responsibilities in this situation? What did you have to do?
  • Action: What actions did you take in the situation? How did you respond?
  • Result: What outcomes were achieved? Conclude with a result.
Practise some questions using this technique before going into interviews. I found that common questions were similar to:
  • When have you been in a stressful situation with approaching deadlines? How did you meet this deadline and produce a high quality result?
  • When have you taken charge of a project at work/university and how did you handle managing your workload/team?
Top tip: Research online for practice questions - there are plenty on the internet! Practice makes perfect so prepare by using the STAR technique with a number examples you’ve tackled before – think beyond work; it can from uni, community and social situations too!

What happens next?

After I had completed the assessment centres for these internships, I received the outcome of my application within three business days for one, and two weeks for another.
It is worth noting that you can ask what the process is after the interview or send an email to confirm when you will expect to receive an outcome – plus, it shows you are interested in the role!
Ultimately, I received two offers for internships. I received an offer from one bank and another leading financial institution around the same time. I received verbal offers initially, followed by a written offer and contract. I was transparent with both companies regarding my offers so that I could have enough time to make a decision.
Top tip: The interview process is not just for the company to assess you but for you to get a sense of the company’s workplace. The interview process can help you realise if you are the right fit for the company’s culture. This can help you decide which one to choose if you’re lucky enough to receive multiple offers!
This wraps up the internship interview process. Start preparing early, do your research and keep on top of the deadlines. Good luck!
If you missed part one – the internship application process, check it out here!

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