As a high schooler, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the whirlwind of homework, exams, and college preparation. These are all important to getting your career of choice, but there is one opportunity that will help like no other – internships. Whether you’re still discovering your passions or have your dream job already decided, internships provide practical experience that shows how you apply what you learn in school. Whether you currently have an interview lined up or not, let’s dive into how to effectively prepare for high school internship interviews.
Do you feel unsure of what you want to do as a career, let alone an internship? Check out our blog on choosing a college major for some help!
As a high school student or recent graduate, your interviewer probably already has relatively low expectations, as they know that this is likely to be one of your first high school internship interviews overall. Nonetheless, if you want the job, it’s crucial to do some work to prepare. Let’s go over the main things that you should do to ace the interview.
Learn as much as possible about the organization like its mission, values, and the role you’re applying for. This will not only help you answer questions comfortably, but also show your genuine interest in the opportunity. Although your answer to questions like “why do you want to work for this company” probably boils down to “money and career opportunities”, you want to be able to answer with reasons that line up with the company’s mission.
For example, you may do some Googling and discover that the company values innovation, diversity, and a customer centered approach. With a few more searches, you find that the company recently launched a new mobile app aimed at improving user experience through personalized recommendations.
Armed with these facts, you can align your answers to showcase your interest in technology and passion for creating for the consumer’s demands. You can highlight your curiosity about the company’s app and how it aligns with your desire to learn and contribute to cutting-edge technology projects. Although you may not have professional experience, you can emphasize your tech-savviness, problem-solving skills, and willingness to stay updated with the latest industry trends.
Above all, your priority in researching the company should be to show a genuine interest in the company’s mission and how your enthusiasm (and ideally skills and experience) can contribute to the company goals you find.
Haven’t found an internship yet? Check out Dewey Smart’s internship match program!
Always prepare a few thoughtful questions for high school internship interviews. This displays your curiosity and engagement with the opportunity. Try to prepare a few simple and more open-ended questions to ask when prompted. Here’s some examples.
- What does a typical day look like in this role?
- What’s the start and end dates of the internship?
- What is the team structure in the internship?
Make sure none of these questions can be answered in the job description or elsewhere on their website, as you do not want to appear unprepared.
- Can you provide some examples of projects that previous interns have completed?
- What is the typical career trajectory for someone in this role, and how does the company support professional advancement?
- Can you tell me about the company’s approach to work-life balance and the well-being of employees?
- What has been your favorite part about working in this company?
Asking questions about your interviewer and their role at an organization can be a great backup plan when you run out of questions, as people usually love to talk about their experience.
Prepare and Practice Answers to Common Questions
More important than asking questions is answering them. If the interviewer just wanted to know your academic achievements and grades, they’d look at your resume. High school internship interviews are places where you can show your problem-solving and, more importantly, communication skills.
Therefore, it is vital to prepare answers for common questions that follow a storytelling structure.
“What is an instance when you overcame an issue?” is one of the most common questions that you’ll encounter. Working through challenges is a part of every job, so your interviewer will likely want to know how you deal with problems when they come up. Let’s talk about how to effectively prepare for these types of questions.
When preparing your response, consider a time when you faced a significant obstacle—maybe during a school project, an extracurricular, or in a personal situation—and write down an answer specific to you using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to organize your thoughts and deliver a clear, concise, and compelling answer. This method is the same that is recommended by top companies such as Amazon to effectively answer interview questions.
- Situation: Describe the context or setting.
- Task: Explain the challenge or goal you were facing.
- Action: Discuss the specific actions you took to address the situation.
- Result: Share the outcomes of your actions, emphasizing the positive impact.
For instance, you might answer the previously mentioned question by sharing a story about leading a group project where your team was initially struggling with communication and meeting deadlines. Think about how the situation went, and use the STAR method as follows to outline your prepared response.
- Situation: I was part of a group project where communication and meeting deadlines were challenging.
- Task: Taking the lead, I addressed the issue by implementing strategies to improve communication and coordination.
- Action: I set up regular check-ins, established clear ways to share updates, and ensured everyone understood their responsibilities.
- Result: Our team became more efficient, meeting deadlines and successfully completing the project. This experience strengthened my leadership skills, deepened my understanding of teamwork, and improved my time management abilities.
Prepare short STAR responses like this for other common questions. Some recommendations to get you started are
- Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?
- Give me an example of a project or task you worked on as part of a team. How did you contribute to the team’s success?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to think creatively or innovatively to solve a problem.
After writing your answers to these down, take time, especially leading up to interview day, to reread and rehearse reciting your answers naturally. Don’t regurgitate your story word for word, just understand each aspect of your answers (S, T, A, R) and be ready to deliver them in a way that doesn’t sound too rehearsed.
If you have the privilege of having a friend or family member who would be willing to help you out, mock interviews are an unmatched way to get ready for your high school internship interview. Peers can act as interviewers, providing you with a realistic simulation of an actual interview. Likewise, they can provide feedback on the quality of your interview skills and answers.
By engaging in mock interviews, you can gain valuable experience, become more comfortable with high school internship interviews processes, and hone your ability to provide eloquent and confident responses. Remember, practice truly does make perfect, and mock interviews are a valuable tool in your preparation arsenal.
Want some extra assistance in honing your interview skills? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Dewey Smart’s mentors for expert advice and guidance from mentors with success in obtaining internship roles.
The most important factor of all of this preparation is to be relaxed and composed during high school internship interviews. Be confident and talk with the demeanor of someone who deserves the job, whether you feel that way deep down or not.
Your interviewer will speak to many other applicants looking for the same job, so the finite details of your answers will not be what sets you apart. Instead, focus on making a good impression, and being sure of yourself.
For interview day, here’s some things to keep in mind:
Be on Time
Arrive early. This is a simple and easy way to show your interest in the role.
How to Dress
Dress professionally and appropriately for the company culture. Look up the company’s dress code, and dress a bit up from that. Don’t think too hard about your dress, and remember it’s always better to be overdressed than under.
How you Carry Yourself
Maintain good posture, eye contact, and speak clearly. For many people, this also means to slow down your speech. If you are adequately prepared, this should come naturally.
Let your excitement shine through. Don’t be afraid to smile and crack appropriate jokes at times. Employers are seeking passionate and positive individuals who are easy to work with.
After the Interview
Once the interview is over, send an email or note to the interviewer thanking them for their time and reiterating that you are very interested in the role.
Remember, preparing for high school internship interviews are more than just reciting answers that you have prepared; it’s about presenting your authentic self, showcasing your skills, and proving that you are someone who can contribute to their company. You’ll probably always feel nervous before, but remember, each interview is a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Good luck!
Still want some extra help getting ready for your interview? One of our mentors at Dewey Smart would be thrilled to guide you. Set up an appointment here!