Internship application season is in full force, and I’m in the process of submitting my resumes and cover letters for positions in the spring. After the success of my first blog post about internships, I thought I would launch an internship application series, where I’ll be discussing the three major elements of the process: the resume, the cover letter, and the interview. To read my post about resumes, click here! To read my post about cover letters, click here!
Welcome to the final installment in my Internship 101 series! Today, I’ll be discussing some of my favorite job interview tips. Interviews are easily the most nerve-wracking step in the job application process. Talking face-to-face with a potential employer is definitely anxiety inducing, but try to remember that you’re there for a reason. They wouldn’t have invited you to interview if they didn’t see you as a worthy candidate. And as hard as it is to believe, the interview is just as much for you as it is for the company. While they get to learn more about you, you get to learn more about the business and the position itself. Here are some of my job interview tips that I use the most frequently.
Research the company.
Hopefully this one doesn’t seem too obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people I’ve met that don’t research the company at all before interviewing. Most employers like to know that you’ve familiarized yourself with the business. I would suggest reading the company’s mission statement, values, and the job description. That way, you will be prepared if the interviewer asks you what you know so far about the firm. If he or she doesn’t specifically ask, you can integrate your knowledge into some of your answers to slip him or her the hint that you’ve done your research.
Practice your answer for common interview questions.
This is the most important of all of the job interview tips, as well as the single best way to prepare for an interview. I’ve noticed that most of the interviews I’ve had revolve around the same questions. I have a Word document on my laptop that lists these common questions with my notes for responses. I make sure to look this over before every interview so that the notes are fresh in my mind. You can even practice with your mom or your friend – have her ask the question and practice giving your answer. Here is a link to the most popular job interview questions.
Use the STAR method to answer questions.
This acronym is familiar to most business majors – or at least the ones from my school. My business professors have pounded this one into my head because of how important it is. When you’re answering situational-based questions, try to use STAR to guide your response. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. So, you start by giving context for the example. Then, you explain the specific task that you had to complete and what you did to complete it. Finally, talk about the end result.
Lay out your outfit the night before.
I still need practice on this one, but I would highly recommend choosing your outfit the night before the interview. This prevents the dreaded “what am I going to wear” process in the morning, when you’ll already be anxious. The last thing you need is to stress about what outfit to wear and end up being late to the interview.
Make a good first impression.
This one involves a lot of things: arriving on time, dressing professionally, having an upbeat attitude, and seeming interested during the interview. Body language can go a long way. As someone with a shy personality, I tend to close myself off with my body by crossing my arms, looking down at the floor, or just generally tensing up. Try to keep this in mind during the interview. Maintain good posture and practice nonverbal communication such as nodding and smiling periodically to let the interviewer know that you are engaged. I’d also recommend bringing a notebook to jot down some notes. This will help to convey your interest as well.
Always ask questions at the end.
When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions for him or her at the end of the meeting, NEVER say no. You should always have a few questions prepared. This shows the interviewer that you are interested in learning more. I’ve read that some interviewers purposely leave out information during their spiels to see if you’ll ask a question about it! Some of my favorite questions to ask are:
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role? (If they haven’t already told you that)
What constitutes success in this position, and is it measured in a specific way?
What are your company’s greatest goals in the near future?
What are the next steps in the process? Do you need any more information from me?
Here is a website with more questions to ask at the end of an interview if these aren’t your cup of tea.
Send a thank you note.
Always send a thank you note to the interviewer. Often times, this will distinguish great applicants from good ones. If you’re sending it via email, you should send it within the same day so that it shows your interest. If you have time, you can handwrite the note and send it in the mail. Here’s what I would generally send in a thank you note:
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today about the XYZ internship at XYZ company. It was great to learn more about your company and the responsibilities of this role. If you need any more information from me, please do not hesitate to ask. I am excited about this potential opportunity, and I am very grateful for your consideration. Thank you!
And that’s it! Those are all of my favorite job interview tips. That officially wraps up my internship application series. I hope that you found these posts helpful in your job search process. I’d love to know what kind of internships you’re doing! Let me know if you’ve snagged any cool interviews or positions in the comments below.