Inside the Internship: Nailing the interview

The interview process is undoubtedly the most intimidating part of trying to acquire an internship. It’s your only chance to make a great first impression and the perfect time to really articulate what you can bring to the company.

But nerves can get in the way, keeping you from representing yourself in the best way. All you need is a couple of pointers – and deep breaths – to make sure you nail the interview:

1. Be prepared

Preparedness is a life skill that you’ll hopefully master, especially if you get the internship. First of all, lay out your outfit the night before (check back in a couple weeks for a run down of what’s appropriate). This will get it out of the way and you won’t have to worry about it morning of. Also, know where you’re going. You’ll see how long it’ll take you to get there and will hopefully keep you from getting lost.

Make sure you set aside enough time to get to your interview about 10 minutes early. This’ll give you time to settle down, review your resume and put your phone on silent. You definitely don’t want your “Hotline Bling” ringtone going off five minutes in. This’ll also show that you have decent time management. Going into the interview, have at least three printed copies of your resume – or have it in front of you if you’re doing a phone interview. Why have three? There may be other staff members who are sitting in on the interview.

2. Know your stuff

Going into an interview after completing some prior research on who you’re interviewing with is extremely important. You’re not only update-to-date on the goings-on of the company, but you learn what their values. It also wouldn’t hurt to skim the LinkedIn profile of the person interviewing you, if they have one. No, you won’t be reciting their work history during your chat, but it’ll give you a better idea of his or her role in the company.

Lastly, you should know your own resume like the back of your hand. Know what skills you listed as well as your responsibilities for each former job. This’ll help guide your answers when the interviewer refers back to it.

3. Be confident

Confidence is a major key. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect someone else to? As long as you’ve prepared and know your stuff, you should feel good about your prospects. Be sure to stand up straight, smile and make eye contact.

But don’t confuse confidence with cockiness. An employer wants someone who is proud of the hard work they put in, not someone who thinks they’re better than others. Emphasize examples of teamwork and overcoming personal struggles instead of putting other people down or being negative.

4. Ask questions

Creating a dialogue with the person interviewing you shows that you are interested in the company and are eager to learn. These are both very good things. Don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify questions; you want to make sure you are giving them thorough and direct answers. Also, don’t hesitate to inquire at the end of the interview, even if they fail to ask if you have any questions (though I doubt they’d forget). See the sidebar for question examples.

5. Thank them

Lastly, show appreciation. Everyone has their own lives going on, and you need to express that you are aware of that and are thankful for them taking the time to speak with you. Be sure to do this at the end of the interview and again, within 48 hours of it. If you prefer to handwrite a note rather than email, be sure to send it out as soon as possible. This simple act could be the deciding factor between you and someone else. 

Still need to apply for an internship? We have an article about that too.