You've already sent out your resume and cover letter and the employer has recently contacted you about scheduling an interview. Below are some tips to help ensure a successful interview, which is the next step in the internship process. By following these ten interviewing tips, you will be well on your way to having a successful interview and ultimately an internship offer.
You can prepare yourself for the interview by selecting appropriate interview attire beforehand (suits for business), researching the company, and preparing a list of questions you have for the interviewer. Bring a copy of your resume with you to the interview in case the interviewer does not have one on hand. Last but not least, practice answering sample interview questions to prepare yourself and gain confidence before the interview.
Make a Good First Impression
The interview is your opportunity to market yourself, and it is the reason you prepared and sent out all of those resumes and cover letters. Once you get the interview, it is your job to create an excellent first impression by being prompt, being yourself, attending to your nonverbal behavior (such as a firm handshake and maintaining eye contact throughout the interview), and by taking the first few minutes to develop a rapport with your interviewer. You will want to appear poised, yet comfortable and relaxed during the interview. A good first impression will set the stage for a successful interview.
Emphasize Your Skills and Accomplishments
Focus on your skills and accomplishments, including high school/college coursework, volunteer and co-curricular activities, and your computer and language skills. Previous internships or work experiences are important as well as describing your transferable skills: communication, interpersonal, organization, strong analytical and problem solving, and more.
Provide the Interviewer With Examples of Your Skills
One form of interviewing that is popular is called behavioral interviewing. The interviewer will provide you with a scenario and ask how you would handle a specific situation. Preparing for these types of questions before the interview will provide a quick reference to previous relevant experiences. (For example, describe a situation where you were able to think on your feet and come to an immediate decision to get a project completed on time.) In this case, the interviewer is interested in your thought process and problem-solving capabilities.
Understand the Question Before Answering
When the interviewer asks a question, It is OK to ask the interviewer for clarification or to repeat the question. You want to know what the interviewer is looking for before you go ahead and assume that you have the right answer.
Follow the Interviewer's Lead
Don't spend too much time on any one question but make sure you have answered the entire question before going on to the next one. You might want to check with the interviewer to see if you answered their question or if he/she would like additional information.
Emphasize the Positive
You may be asked during the interview to give a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Remember in these types of questions to focus on the positive. When referring to weaknesses, recognize those things you feel you need to work on and quickly shift to actions you have taken to improve in this area. Specific examples can be helpful to illustrate your progress.
Bring Samples of Your Work
If you are in a field such as graphic design, photography, studio art, education, or communications (where a sample of your work would be helpful), bring samples with you to the interview.
Close the Interview With Confidence
The beginning and end of the interview can be the most crucial aspects of the interview. End your interview with confidence. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and ask when you may expect to hear back from the employer.
Take this opportunity to clarify a topic discussed in the interview and to reaffirm your interest in the organization and the internship. Send a thank you note to everyone you interviewed with on the day of your interview.