Interviews

What to expect when interviewing for an internship: shown by Canary data

What to expect when interviewing for an internship: shown by Canary data

We compiled interview-related data points from canarystudent.com spanning hundreds of companies and dozens of colleges to help guide you through this season with a smidge more confidence.

What to expect when interviewing for an internship: shown by Canary data

Stephen Ralph

Canary co-founder

College students are at a fundamental disadvantage when it comes time for internship interviews. We're new to corporate interviews, unfamiliar with the company, and inexperienced with the industry as a whole. We don’t know what to expect, and that uncertainty drives more nerves into the already anxiety-inducing process 😰.

So, can we make some educated guesses 🧐 at what you should expect based off real, quantitative metrics?

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Yes, actually:

We compiled interview-related data points from canarystudent.com spanning hundreds of companies and dozens of colleges to help guide you through this season with a smidge more confidence.

What types of interviews am I likely to see?

We can all assume you might get a behavioral screening call from HR, maybe a “technical” from a manager or recruiter, and perhaps a case study. But how often do interns actually encounter these?

First, let's define the different types of interviews:

💬 Behavioral interviews evaluate a person’s character, attitudes, and general thought processes in order to predict potential future success within the company (or at the very least, uncover clear failures).

📅 Past Experience meetings dig down into relevant previous employment, leadership, or projects to gain a better understanding of who you are, how you work, and what you can do.

💡 Knowledge interviews act like a verbal test, technical interviews lie here as well as theoretical knowledge (which may be technical in nature or to gauge your understanding of, say, industry context.)

💼 Case interviews posit a problem or scenario and have you solve them on the spot, usually directly related to the position.

Overall

Students were asked to select any/all that they experienced while getting their internship.

Our key findings:

  1. Nearly 3/4 of interns had a behavioral interview of some sort. As behavioral interviews are often (not always) the first stage gate of the interview process, its suspected that those who didn’t may have “skipped” this step as a result of a referral or returning to a company.
  2. Behavioral and past experience interviews were often seen in tandem. In other words, interns at companies that didn’t perform behavioral interviews were much less likely to be asked about their past experiences too. (Does not hold true for CS students).
  3. Case interviews and behavioral ones are more strongly correlated than other parings. 83% of students who had case interviews also had a behavioral interview.

What about by major?

See the above chart? Cool, forget about it for a moment.

Interview types vary wildly by major. Here’s some of our data from the most popular majors on canarystudent.com

Computer science and ECE are sometimes pooled together in reports, articles, recruiting, etc. However, interview experiences differ greatly. The notion of “coding interviews” is confirmed with over 73% of CS interns having a technical interview. What’s perhaps more interesting is that ECE lags far behind with only 51% having technical interviews.

It will be interesting to see if CS’s interview style influences other STEM fields in the future.

Other notes:

  1. Of the majors highlighted in this article, ECE had the highest incidence of theoretical knowledge interviews, and lowest incidence of case interviews.
  2. Similarly, ECE then CS had the highest percentage sums, suggesting they run the largest and most diverse gamut per interview process.

How about two popular engineering majors on the platform?

  1. Mechanical engineering interns overwhelmingly dominate the past experience interviews.
  2. Industrial engineers dominate (are basically guaranteed to have) behavioral interviews.
  3. Both displayed low incidences of technical knowledge interviews, relative to average.

Let’s take a step outside of STEM.

  1. Somewhat unsurprisingly, case interviews are far more popular in business student interviews, albeit still less than 1/4 of students experience them through securing the internship.
  2. Note how “normal” the chart looks compared to some of the engineering ones, and to average. CS vs ECE shows more contrast than Business vs ECE…

We hope this shines some light on the seemingly veiled interview process that tens of thousands of college students dive into each year. Having a better idea of what you will go through allows you to focus on the most important part, being yourself (and ok preparing is a close second). Study hard, prepare intelligently, and be confident!

-Stephen @ Canary.