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Prepare Questions

American employers expect applicants to ask about the company and the internship responsibilities to demonstrate their interest and curiosity. Interviewing your employer or future colleague will help you learn more about the organization and what it’s like to work there. Although your employer is trying to see if you’re fit for the position, you should be equally curious to see if the company is a good fit for you, too.

This is yet another opportunity for you to impress your interviewer. Asking certain questions will make a good impression.

Sample Questions to Ask in an Interview:

What is the overall structure of the company and how does your department fit within that structure?

This is a good way to get a sense of how the company operates and what each department does so that you can see how your role as an intern/trainee would fit into this organization.

Bonus points: Ask the question in a way that shows the interviewer that you’ve already done some research about how the different departments relate to each other. For example, consider the following question: “I saw online that there are three departments reporting to the Director of Programs. Do these departments interact on any projects?” Such a question shows that you’re aware of some basic company hierarchy already: you know the role of the Director of Programs and that this person supervises a certain number of programs. Asking this kind of question makes you sound informed, and your interviewer will note that you’ve done some research. Where might you have done this research? Most organizations’ websites have an “About Us,” “Our Work,” or “Our Programs” page.

You should ideally know the major responsibilities of the position before interviewing, but this question will help you get a better sense of the more specific types of tasks you would be doing and the anticipated level of your involvement within the organization.

Bonus points: Ask about a project that’s currently ongoing within this department. You might be able to find a calendar of events on the company’s website, or a list of projects on the page of the program to which you’re applying. You could say, for example, “I saw that the annual spring fundraiser is coming up; how would I support that in this position?”

Is it casual? More corporate/formal? You will want to know the office dynamic before accepting an internship position with the company. Can you see yourself training in a similar environment? How does this office compare to offices in your home country or previous positions you’ve held?

Be curious and inquisitive! Show that you are interested in the interviewer’s background and experience at the company. You will learn about the advantages of having an internship with them and get some firsthand insight. Note that both this question and the preceding one, about the work environment, are both commonly used by prospective employees. It’s good to memorize these as backup questions for the interviewer. But if your intention is to impress in the question phase of the interview, ideally you’ll go with one of the other inquiries.
This is a great way to gauge the employer’s motivation for having an intern in the first place. You can better understand what they might have you working on and what type of role they envision you having.
You can relate this question to your long-term career aspirations by mentioning where you see yourself in a few years and how this position ties into those future professional goals. Maybe the employer will mention a previous intern. Do you share a similar background with that intern? This is a great way to learn about what a typical or potential career track might be. However, be cautious not to imply that you only see the position as a stepping stone to another role. Your employer will want to have faith that you’ll focus on the tasks your position entails.
You can use this question to really emphasize your strengths and draw on your education and/or previous experience. The better you are at understanding the expectations for the position, the better you can show them how you will meet those expectations and be an exceptional intern/trainee.Bonus points: Use the responses given by the interviewer to sell yourself. For example, after hearing the interviewer’s response, you may say something like “I’m pleased to hear that; I helped a previous employer in that area.” Then, of course, give a succinct explanation. Remember that all stages of the interview are opportunities to demonstrate your ability to excel.
This interview is an opportunity to really learn about your employer’s expectations for the position. You can also turn this into a conversation about challenges you’ve faced in your previous positions and how you have overcome them.
The purpose of the Career Training USA program is cultural exchange. The program is a really great way to learn more about U.S. culture and to share your culture with Americans. This question allows you to learn about opportunities or activities for you to get involved in with the company.

You don’t want to be pushy about when you will find out if they have offered you the internship, so this is a good way of asking what happens next.

What NOT to Ask in an Interview:

Can I change my schedule? What salary, vacation time and benefits do I get?
Wait until you are offered the internship before negotiating things like salary and vacation time (if applicable). You certainly want to have these things agreed upon before accepting an offer, however you don’t want to give them the impression that you only care about the perks of position instead of the position itself.
You don’t want to be pushy about when you will find out if they have offered you the internship, so this is a good way of asking what happens next.

Be patient! You can follow up with them via email after the interview, perhaps a few days later, to inquire about next steps. When you do follow up, don’t directly ask whether you got the position. We get it: it’s normal to be anxious and want to know. However, pointedly asking whether you got it can sound pushy and off-putting.

Instead, follow up with a simple thank-you email.