Preparing an internship interview
After you have found suitable internships or job applications and have sent your resume and cover letter, it is time to wait. Even though it may feel like you have already put in a lot of effort, the real process begins when you are invited to the office for a job interview. So far, your hard work has paid off! But now, new questions arise: what to wear, what to say, how to prepare? This article will outline some general tips and tricks on how to prepare for an internship interview and get the job or interview you want.
What to wear to a job interview
Most offices have a dress code. This can be business style, which means that men are supposed to suit up and women generally wear a suit, dress or heels. Depending on the company, there might be a casual dress code, where jeans are allowed. It is good to get a general sense of what you should wear to your interview because first impressions count. Even if there is a casual dress code in the company where you are applying for a job, it is advisable to wear a business-like outfit and have a polished representation. This will make you look more serious and determined to get that internship you’re after.
Though you have probably already researched the company when applying for the job, it doesn’t hurt to do more research. Go through the website again and try to understand what the firm’s main activities are. Read the job description again and research the employees who are going to interview you. It’s fine if you don’t understand everything; be sure to write any questions you come up with down to ask them during your interview. Even more so, you are often expected to ask such questions, since it shows interest in the company and job. If you are unsure about what to ask, consider asking about work ethic, company culture and how a regular day would look like for you if you’d get the job or internship. After all, people spend most of their week at work, so it’s important to know about ambiance and daily activities.
Normally there are some general interview questions that most companies use. You can prepare yourself in advance by thinking of a good answer. These are questions such as:
- What are your good qualities and points of improvement?
- What qualities will make you successful in this particular internship or job?
- What are you proud of?
- How do you handle setbacks?
- What are your ambitions and what are you doing to accomplish your goals?
- What are your most important expectations in this new challenge?
- What are you like as a colleague?
Try to be concise when answering these questions. It helps to have an example in mind. The STAR-method is a great tool to help you give good answers. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It means that you should describe the situation, explain your task, what action you took and what the results were.
For example, this one time you were going to volunteer at the local soup kitchen for refugees. However, when you came there, there were no ingredients brought to cook with, because the person responsible was ill. This was a setback and you couldn’t perform your task: cooking with the ingredients. However, you decided to act proactively by calling some friends to ask them if they could help out. They came by car and in the meantime, you wrote down a shopping list. Then, when everyone arrived, you gave everyone a task and made sure that there was a warm meal for every refugee.
This not only shows how you deal with setbacks, but the example also reveals leadership qualities. Adding examples according to the STAR method is better than just stating that you handle setbacks well and have leadership qualities because it illustrates your skills.
Be sure to have asked all the questions you wanted to ask. In the end, be sure to thank the recruiters for their time and ask on the follow-up: when will you know more? Will you get a call or an email? Be sure to have this clear, as it will give you peace of mind as well.
After the interview, it’s up to the company to schedule a second interview or not. This depends also on the company; sometimes a company is just not a good fit with your profile or your own work ethic. Keep in mind that this is not personal, and continue to apply for jobs or internships, because you will find an internship that suits you. Also, keep in mind that you may not like the company or internship after the first interview.
Good luck with the interview!