You’ve been putting your resume out for months, and you just got the good news that you’ve landed an internship interview. Congratulations! You’re feeling a little intimidated and excited all at once. You want to get this position, and you’re afraid that you’ll say or do something wrong. Don’t worry; remember that interviewers expect interviewees to be a little nervous and they’ll do their best to put you at ease. But, the rest is up to you. Follow these ten tips for preparation, and you can go into your interview confident that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance for success.
1. First Impressions Last
It may seem obvious, but grooming and punctuality go a long way. Have an early night, look sharp, smell right and don’t smoke a cigarette before you go in. Arrive 15 minutes early, minimum. Make sure you research your transport times to get to the location, so you’re not flustered, sweaty or late. Take a few deep breaths, turn off your phone and try to relax before you enter the room. Greet everyone with their names, smile and be friendly. Remember that body language is important too, so look people in the eyes and don’t slouch or fidget during the process.
2. Research the Company
A candidate who knows a lot about the company they’re trying for an internship at is impressive. It shows you are prepared if they ask you what you’d like to know about them. Plus, knowing a lot about the company can be helpful if they throw you an unusual question. Scour their website, read their business philosophy and look online for news articles about them.
3. Anticipate Their Questions and Practice Your Answers
While you may get thrown the occasional curve ball, there are some standard questions that it’s likely you’ll be asked. You have to anticipate questions such as ‘why do you want an internship here?’, ‘what are your goals?’ and ‘tell me about your CV’. Prepare some answers beforehand, but don’t memorise them word for word. You want to sound like a self-aware human being, not some correct answer robot.
4. Prepare Scenario Stories
A common form of interviewing today is known as ‘behavioural interviewing’ which involves the interviewer asking you to tell stories about moments in your professional past where you may have had challenges or been in positions of responsibility in some way. This is their way of gauging whether your talk matches your actions. Before you arrive for the interview, you should have practised telling a few stories that would address questions like; ‘tell me about a time when you’ve had to manage conflict,’ or ‘have you ever encountered a setback and what did you do to overcome it?’
5. Make a Unique Resume and Know What’s On It
Although this might seem like another obvious point, you would be surprised how common it is for applicants to use the same generic resume for each position. Each position is unique, so make sure you show up to the interview with a resume tailored to the job description. It’s equally as important to know what’s on your resume. Interviewers will often ask you to explain a particular role that’s written down. Keep in mind why you put something on it and what story you can tell about it.
6. Try to Enjoy Yourself and Confidence Will Follow
It may seem impossible, but try to enjoy yourself. You’re about to meet some friendly people who are genuinely interested in who you are. It’s essential to be cheerful, relaxed and confident (without being arrogant), but you can’t force those emotions. Instead, you can trick yourself into genuinely feeling them. Pretend to yourself that you’re meeting some new friends for a coffee and chat about work. Don’t build the situation up in your mind or exaggerate the consequences. If you don’t get the position, it’s OK; there will be more out there.
7. Prepare Your Questions for Them
At some point in the interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for your prospective employers. Never say ‘No’ to this opportunity. Asking well thought-out questions such as ‘Who will I be working with?’ not only helps you figure out what it would be like to work there, it also makes you look proactive and savvy.
8. Practice an Elevator Speech
Sometimes interviewers will put you on the spot. If they ask you a broad question such as ‘tell me about yourself,’ you’ve got to have an elevator speech prepared. It’s just a synopsis of your professional life and ambitions that you can offer in under a minute. Make sure it’s succinct, honest and relevant to the role.
9. Bring a Portfolio With You
Don’t assume that your interviewers will have a copy of your CV on hand. Bring a little folder with you containing your resume, a business card and any other references or examples of your work you think may be helpful. At the end of the interview, offer to give them the folder if there’s more inside than you provided in the initial application.
10. Close, Thanks and Follow Up
How you leave an interview is just as important as how you arrive. Stay cheerful, give thanks, say ‘it was great to meet you,’ and ask when you might be hearing back about the position. Within the next 24 hours, send an email thanking them for their time again and saying you enjoyed the conversation. Follow up a week later and ask if there’s any news on the position but don’t hassle them if there’s no news after that point.
At KBS, we take the future prospects of our graduates very seriously – that’s why we provide you with your personalised Careers Central service. Combining industry placement, and one-on-one career coaching, Careers Central has every aspect of the post-study job search covered. We provide advice on everything ranging from interview techniques to cover letter preparation. Last year, 265 out of 1273 students were successfully placed via our Careers Central program. Contact your Careers Officer on campus if you are a current KBS student to make an appointment.