Finding a computer science internship is one of the best ways to gain experience and start building your career in the tech industry. But, it can be nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect during the interview.
Being prepared with solid answers to common questions will go a long way toward giving you an edge over other candidates. I have put together a list of 15 Computer Science internship interview questions that you should prepare for before going into your next job interview.
There are a few general tips that you should keep in mind when answering interview questions. First, and this may go without saying, be respectful when replying to questions.
Don’t be rude, arrogant, or snippy. If you’re disrespectful, you can kiss the job goodbye. People want to work with people they can get along with and who will fit in with the current company culture.
Another thing to avoid is giving short answers. You also shouldn’t drag on with your answers too much. There is a sweet spot for giving enough information to answer a question thoroughly without overwhelming the interviewee with unnecessary details.
One of the most common computer science internship interview questions is “What experience do you have with coding?” If you’re interviewing for an internship that isn’t programming related such as computer networking, they’ll probably ask about your experience related to that.
This question serves to gauge your technical skills as they relate to programming and coding languages (or computer networking) such as Java, C++, Python, etc.
Be sure to provide concrete examples of projects you’ve worked on in which you utilized coding in order to showcase your expertise within this field. Be sure to elaborate and express your enthusiasm for the technology you’ve learned as well as what you plan to learn in the future.
Another common question posed during CS internship interviews is “What sets you apart from other candidates?” Here, employers are looking for qualities unique to each candidate that make them stand out from their peers and contribute something special towards their team or organization if hired.
In response, focus on personal characteristics such as strong problem-solving abilities, organization skills, attention to detail, creativity, and communication abilities or creativity rather than simply highlighting academic achievements alone. Employers want people who bring something extra beyond what can be seen through a resume.
It's also likely that potential employers may ask about how familiarized with certain software development methodologies such as Agile Development or Scrum Methodology before committing to an offer letter.
Talk about any knowledge gained while working towards completing a Computer Science degree program along with any direct experiences helping develop software using either technique.
If you’re unfamiliar with these, check out the agile manifesto and learn more about the scrum methodology. These two are closely related and they are good to know because they’ll make you a better prospect and a better technologist.
Employers value employees who possess specific skillsets relating back directly to the position being applied. Showcasing prior knowledge here helps paint an accurate picture detailing why hiring managers should consider bringing you onto their team.
Organizations might also inquire regarding interpersonal dynamics when inquiring during an interview process. Typically, recruiters and hiring managers want to hear answers related back to successful collaboration between multiple members of a team leading up to project completion milestones.
If possible, try providing details regarding communication tactics used across different departments or team members which ultimately aided towards success. You can also shed insight pertaining to how conflicts were resolved amicably throughout the project lifecycle phases.
Not only does this demonstrate technical understanding but it also shows off leadership capabilities when trying to handle difficult situations.
Another question an interviewer might ask is “What motivated you to pursue a career in computer science?” You should discuss your passion for problem-solving as well as your interest in cutting-edge technology and how these two aspects appeal to you personally.
Ultimately, your answer should showcase how driven, motivated, and passionate you are when it comes to pursuing a career in computer science. If there was a particular event or inspiration for your decision, talk about that.
Personally, I was inspired by other successful tech leaders such as Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Peter Theil, and others. I wanted to build something that would help to improve people's lives at scale.
You may also be asked about what technologies or programming languages are most familiar with or would like to work within an internship setting. This is an opportunity for you to express your enthusiasm for your favorite technology.
This shows employers not only that they understand certain core concepts but also gives employers assurance of their ability to pick up new things very quickly.
Candidates may be asked, “How comfortable do you feel troubleshooting software issues?” Don’t simply answer “yes” or “no”. The best approach here would involve discussing previous experiences where similar problems have arisen.
When answering this question make sure that not only do explain what went wrong but more importantly how did the troubleshooting process play out and what solution worked. This experience can be from your work at university or part-time job - highlighting the methodical steps taken until a resolution was found.
Additionally, applicants should display clear enthusiasm towards debugging programs whenever needed which further implies strong problem-solving capabilities necessary for success within any Software Engineering role.
It’s always tricky when they ask about your strengths because you don’t want to sound too cocky but also need to show them why you are right for this position.
Make sure that whatever strengths you choose to specify how they relate to software engineering or computer science specifically, such as problem-solving skills or knowledge in a particular programming language like Java, C++, Python, or web development.
It’s also tough to talk about your weaknesses because you don’t want to say anything to make yourself sound incompetent or wrong for the position. However, stating a weakness that isn’t too much of a detractor can show signs of self-awareness.
Typically, you’ll want to mention a weakness that can also be considered a strength. This is cliche, but a common “weakness” is to claim to be a perfectionist and that this can cause you to put more effort into a project than is necessary.
A better option might be to claim to be tech-obsessive which detracts from your personal life. Or that you’re not as proficient as you’d like to be in technology that you’re very interested in. However, if you opt for the latter, be sure to emphasize that you’re continuously working to close the gaps in your knowledge.
This question is important because employers want to gauge how much practical experience and technical expertise you already possess coming into the internship position.
Talk about any projects related to computer science that you were involved with whether it was for school or outside work - discuss specifics about any programs written, technologies used, data structures implemented, etc.
In my sophomore year, I didn’t get an internship but I spent that summer working on a project instead. I like to say that I made my own internship. The best part about it is that the same project helped me land an internship the following year.
This is a really important question for companies to ask. They don’t only want you to be enthusiastic about the technology they use, they want you to be enthusiastic about the products and services they offer.
When answering this question, be sure that you’ve done sufficient research about the company. That will make sure that you can answer this question thoroughly, and it will also help you be sure that it’s actually a company you want to work at.
Most candidates prepare for the questions that they will be asked during a C.S. internship interview. However, few candidates prepare good questions to ask the hiring manager who is interviewing them.
This is a huge mistake. Whoever interviews you will expect you to ask questions. This shows that you’re interested and engaged. It also shows that you are thoughtful and take the potential position seriously.
You should pay close attention and ask questions relevant to the information that they are giving you. This means thinking on the spot. However, it’s also good to have some questions prepared ahead of time that will give you more information. These are 5 of the best questions to ask your interviewer.
If they haven’t already explained how the team is structured, you could ask about it. This will give you a better idea of how you might fit into the mix.
For instance, if it’s a team of developers, how many front-end developers are on the team? How many backend devs? Are there any full-stack developers? What are the seniority levels of everyone? What tasks do they work on? What is the workflow that they follow? How do they track tasks? All of this is good information to know.
Now that you know more about the team, you could ask them about what your role would be. There might already be some details in the job description and they might have already given you some information. But you could dig a little deeper.
Find out about what tasks you would be responsible for. Ask what technologies and programming languages would be used in the role. Learn about how you would work with the other team members and if there might be any opportunities for mentorship.
This is one of the best questions that an interviewee could ask. When they describe the ideal candidate for the role, it gives insight into exactly what they’re looking for. If there are multiple rounds of interviews, asking this in the first round will dictate how to proceed in the following rounds.
Even if you don’t get an offer, asking this question enough times over enough interviews will offer immense insight into each consecutive role. If there is a skill you are lacking, you can work on it.
This is another great question to ask because if you can help solve some of the team's current problems, not only will you get the internship, you’ll likely get an offer to come back full-time.
It also causes the hiring manager to confront some of the real issues plaguing the team. Hear them out, and if you have any insight share it. Otherwise, listen attentively and ask more follow-up questions, such as how you may be able to help with those challenges.
This question is a little lighter than the rest of them, and it’s a good place to finish your set of questions. People love talking about what they love and the things they enjoy.
Additionally, you will learn more about some of the more enjoyable aspects of the role you and of the company. If they don’t have much to say in regard to the positives of the company, consider that a red flag.
Computer science internships require applicants to be knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to both theoretical concepts and practical applications.
At the end of the day, many questions asked during interviews will revolve around demonstrating technical competency through specific tasks given throughout its duration.
Therefore, showcasing drive and motivation coupled with good teamwork characteristics alongside sound technical knowledge will go a long way.
Understanding the expectations going into the preparation phase ahead of time allows individuals to best equip themselves for confidently answering whatever queries are asked.
You should also come prepared with questions of your own to ask the interviewer. This will result in positive outcomes, giving a great chance of landing the internship. Good luck, I believe in you!
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