Tough Interview Questions: Why did you not receive a full-time job offer from your summer internship employer?

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

For students going through the process of recruiting for full-time positions, this question can be very difficult to answer assuming the reason is based on a deficiency in the individual’s performance during the internship. Taking a moment to reflect on your summer experience and delivering a confident response can be helpful to assuage any concerns of recruiters. Here are a few things to consider if you encounter this question during an interview:

Maintain a mature, positive attitude. Avoid delivering a defensive response and completely shifting the blame on everyone else.
Take some responsibility for what happened, but share some positive feedback you received. Provide some general context on the situation (keep this brief and avoid going into too much detail), but also highlight positive feedback you received on your performance during the summer, particularly anything relevant to the position you are interviewing for at this time. Note what you learned from the experience that will improve your performance in the future.  Consider getting some feedback on your answer to this question from an advisor in Career Services prior to your interview.
Be willing to provide one or two former co-workers who can speak on your behalf. Having individuals who are willing to corroborate the things you accomplished during your summer and provide positive feedback on your performance and impact on the organization can be very helpful. Prior to the interview, identify one or two co-workers from your summer internship that can speak on your behalf. Be sure to ask them in advance if they are willing to do so and provide insight into the jobs you are applying for as a next step.  Then be sure to mention that they are willing to speak on your behalf about your performance when you encounter this tough interview question.

Author: David

David Ross is a Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Wharton undergraduates and occasional blogger for "Penn & Beyond."