The real key to a good interview is preparation.
If you've been granted an interview, you're already halfway
to getting the exciting internship you've been looking for.
Congratulations! Since so many students apply for a limited
number of positions, companies generally eliminate candidates
based on their resumes, using interviews to make the final
cut. Here are some interview tips to make sure you're the one
The real key to a good interview is preparation. You'll
probably have plenty of other work to do while you're
applying for internships, but setting aside time to prepare
for your interview makes all the difference. Employers want
to hire students who are confident, relaxed, and ready to
meet challenges-not floundering because they're unprepared.
Follow these simple steps, and you'll put yourself ahead of
Choose your outfit carefully
First impressions are important; there's nothing worse
than candidates who arrive at an interview under- (or over-)
dressed and looking like they just stepped out of the shower.
As a general rule, you should dress "business casual" -
conservative, but still comfortable. Despite the summer heat,
women should avoid clothes that are too tight or revealing,
and men should stick to dress shirts and pants.
Prepare responses to frequently asked questions
There's no way to predict every question you'll be
asked, but you can prevent "um-ing" and "uh-ing" your way
through the interview. The key? Articulating ahead of time
why the internship opportunity is important to you.
Interviewers don't want to waste their time waiting for you
to think up the perfect answer, and the first thing that
comes to your mind may not be the best response. Instead,
spend time before the interview considering the answers to
some common questions. You don't have to memorize a scripted
response; the point is to have some focused ideas in your
head that will convey your best side to the interviewer. You
should at least know the answers to these questions:
Why do you want an internship with this company?
What do you think makes you a good candidate?
What do you think you will gain from an internship with
How does this internship relate to your career goals?
Research the company
We can't emphasize enough how important this one is. No
matter how busy you are, if the company has a web site, take
the time to surf it. There's nothing that impresses an
interviewer more than someone who shows a real interest in
the company and its goals. Doing your research proves that
you're engaged with what the company has to offer and that
you made an informed decision when you applied for the
If applicable, bring your work
Employers like to see initiative. They like to have a
lot of information about a candidate, a personal quality that
stands out, even a memorable anecdote. Particularly if you're
applying for an internship in advertising, editorial, or the
arts, a sample of your work will give interviewers something
solid on which to evaluate you. Don't have anything to show?
Don't stress. You're applying for an internship, so employers
expect that you might not have a lot of practical experience.
If they want to see what you can do, they'll give you an
assignment. If you are asked to prove yourself before you're
hired (with a writing or editing test, for example), don't
underestimate the importance of such projects - sometimes
they can make or break your chances of being hired.
Prepare questions of your own
Wait a minute - aren't they supposed to be the ones
asking you the questions? Not necessarily. Having thoughtful
questions prepared for an employer will show that you're
conscientious about making sure the internship meets your
needs as well as the company's. In fact, employers expect
questions-they are a sign of an employee with potential. Here
are some sample questions you might consider asking:
What's the company's philosophy behind hiring interns?
How many interns is the company hiring?
Who will be my boss? With whom will I be working?
What do you like about your job?
What is the office environment like?
How do you think this internship will benefit me?
If you aren't convinced you're right for the job, they
won't be either. The interviewers we spoke with agree that
the number one thing they look for in a candidate is
self-confidence. But how do you accomplish confidence without
sounding cocky? The best way to talk about yourself is to be
honest and sincere at all times. Interviewers will be
suspicious if you have all the right answers to their
questions, and they'd rather hire interns who are aware of
their own faults than those who appear to be hiding
Discuss it now
If you have financial concerns, housing issues, or time
constraints that could affect your employment, address them
at the interview. Not only will the interviewer appreciate
your candidness, but you'll save yourself the awkwardness of
having to ask for these allowances after you've been hired.
Give employers the benefit of the doubt. They understand that
you're in school, you need money to live, and that you may
need time off to spend with your family. Discussing these
issues at the interview will help the employer feel
comfortable hiring you, since you were thoughtful enough to
deal with these issues up front.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
Often overlooked, the thank-you note is a crucial part
of the interviewing process. It doesn't have to be long, but
promptly thank your interviewer for his or her time and
consideration. This is also a good opportunity to stress your
best qualities, reiterate why you'd like the position, and
address some of the concerns you feel the interviewer might
have had when speaking with you. As with all correspondence
to potential employers, be sure to use correct grammar and
avoid informal language.