07 Jul How To Nail Your Internship Interview
FINALLY. You’ve spruced up your resume and filled out the application form. Then, at last, an email pings into your inbox, and you realize it’s all been worth it – you’ve landed yourself your internship interview. Congratulations! But… what now?
Fix your resume
Make sure you known your resume inside out, and that you feel comfortable walking an interviewer through it. Is there a logical flow? Can you remember exactly what your duties were in your last role? Don’t find yourself mid-interview, rereading your resume aloud and wondering why you included a whole chunk on your childhood newspaper round.
As an intern, it’s perfectly fine to have limited work experience – it’s why you’re here in the first place! So don’t try to fluff it up; an employer will see right through it. Your resume should be clear, concise and only include relevant work placements, academic studies, transferable skills, personal projects and hobbies. Show the interviewer that while you haven’t clocked up years of working 9-5, you make the best use of your spare time. Have a blog? Include a link! Involved in extracurricular activities in college? Talk about them!
Most importantly – spellcheck and proofread! And when you’ve done that, get someone else to cast their eye over it. And when you’ve done that, read it again. Seriously. There’s no excuse to send in a resume (or cover letter or application) with errant apostrophes and simple spelling mistakes.
Think about what you want to learn from your internship
Of course you’re there to assist the team, relieve workloads and maybe make the odd round of coffee for a meeting, but what about you? Think about what you want to gain from this process. Are you looking to develop your skillset? Give range to your portfolio? Make connections? Determine what size of company you’d like to work in? If you haven’t graduated yet, maybe it’s your way of testing the water and seeing if this in the industry for you.
Your interviewer will want to know why THIS internship, why THIS company, why NOW. Consider what you want to get out of your internship and your long-term goals, and it’ll be much clearer in the interview whether or not they align with the company’s mission. Plus, it’ll make you stand out against other applicants; interviewers like to see that someone’s done their homework. No-one wants to waste time hiring someone who isn’t actively looking to maximise their time with the company, or find out afterwards that they have completely different (and perhaps unrealistic) expectations of the program.
Research research research
Do some digging! Try to find out as much as you can about the internship, the company and the industry itself – and do more than just recite the year the firm was founded to the interviewer (who more than likely knows this already). Use the fact that most businesses are becoming increasingly social to your advantage; by checking out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube or LinkedIn account, you’ll get a unique insight into their dress code, team and work culture.
Research typical interview questions and prepare some thought-out answers, but be ready for surprises! Employers want to know about the professional capacity of their interns as well as their personal characteristics. I know a hiring manager who rounds up every interview by asking the applicant what sort of cookie they’d be and why. It’s her favorite part of the discussion, because the candidate needs to think on their feet, but also allows them to be spontaneous and fun have with their answer.
As the interview draws to a close, you will probably be asked if you have any questions of your own. Try to have at least one prepared beforehand; it’s your final chance to prove that you are truly interested in this position, so don’t waste it! Ask about previous interns – where are they now? How did they find the program? Were any of them hired? What could I learn from their past mistakes? Why were the best ones the best – what did they do?
Sometimes you’ll be so relieved that your mind will just go blank… until you’re on your way home and you remember your burning question. If that’s the case, when you’re sending a follow-up email later that day to thank the interviewer for their time, just ask them to clarify the issue for you.
PII’s Partnership Coordinator Rosie Mansfield leaves you with one piece of advice
“in the 10 minutes before your interview find a peaceful place to sit quietly and try to relax your mind. Slow your breathing and feel a sense of calmness. If your head is in a spin you won’t think clearly and may not do your best during interview.”
What was the best piece of interview advice you ever heard? Let us know in the comments!