How to ace an internship interview

by Chloe Nimpoeno

As university students prepare to enter the world of work, internships are a great place to begin looking for experience. If you have never applied for an internship before, the process may seem intimidating at first. Thankfully, BruinLife is here to help. Here are some tips to guarantee you a smooth internship interview experience.

Review your application prior to the interview

Most of the time, the application is a preview into the type of questions you may be asked during your interview and the answers your employer may be looking for in potential interns. While the period between application and interview may vary, it is always best to review it a day or two before your interview, in case your interviewer refers back to an experience you listed or an idea you pitched in your application.

Dress to impress

First impressions matter! While different organizations may have a variety of expectations regarding the dress code, always pay particular attention to your appearance upon going into an interview. The effort will not go unnoticed. Even when employers reassure you that there is no need for formal, professional wear, it is still important to make a distinction between something you’d wear at a grocery store and something you’d wear for an internship interview.

Research your potential employer

Knowledge of the company or team you’re interested in interning for is vital before the application process and is especially significant before your interview. With a little prior research, you’ll be able to tailor your interview responses toward the goals and specialties of your interviewer’s organization. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to showcase your interest and passion for your employer by proving you have looked into their work.

Have at least two to three questions on hand

If there is one thing that all those who have undergone an interview can testify, it is having a time for questions. At some or multiple points during an interview, the interviewer usually gives the interviewee a chance to ask their own questions. As a potential intern, preparing questions before your interview is not only good practice to show your engagement and interest, but it is also a chance for you to clarify the responsibilities of your position. Having solid, thoughtful questions are one way to make your interview memorable for your employer, who may go through multiple rounds of interviews a day.

Show up (a little) early

Punctuality is a significant part of any job, and proving that you can show up in a timely manner from the get-go can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. Apart from being able to showcase your punctuality and time management skills, planning to arrive early alleviates the stress of rushing to find the meeting place and gives you time to pull yourself together before entering the interview. You want to keep your early arrival between 10 and 15 minutes, because any longer may end up creating more anxiety for yourself.

Be prepared to promote yourself

An interview is your chance to shine! Highlight your strengths, express your passion and let your personality show in your interview. To be extra prepared, it is best practice to have an elevator pitch tucked away in your memory to pull from when handy. An elevator pitch is a brief commercial about yourself, where you introduce yourself, list your skills, describe your prior experiences and discuss your career goals. At the end of the day, you want to be able to confidently tell your interviewer what makes you the best candidate for the position, so promote yourself!

Expect a practical portion of the interview

While not all internship interviews include a practical portion, it is always best to expect and prepare for a potential one. Practical portions of interviews are a way for interviewers to see how you will respond when presented with a task related to the job you applied for. Examples of practical portions may include giving a mini presentation, solving a coding problem or pitching a story idea for a journal. It is difficult to fully prepare a complete response to an unknown question, but at the very least, expect some type of technical question within your interview, so you are not caught off guard when the time comes.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with areas for improvement

Contrary to popular belief, companies are not looking for perfect interns. In fact, that is the whole point of an internship: to gain experience in areas that you may lack previous experience in. Be honest with your interviewer and yourself, and don’t be afraid to point out areas in your skillset that could use improvement. Of course, it won’t do good to simply point out these weaknesses; make sure you show enthusiasm and determination to develop and strengthen these areas. Extra points if you are able to incorporate specific challenges of the internship position that you believe will help you grow as a person and employee.

Have fun!

Last but not least, have fun! As cheesy and impossible as it sounds, treating your internship interview as a valuable learning experience works in everyone’s favor. A little confidence goes a long way, and the more you go into an interview comfortable and calm, the more you and your interviewer will remember it as a pleasant experience. An internship interview does not have to be an intimidating experience with the right preparation, mindset and tips to guide you along the way. Best of luck to all aspiring interns, you got this!

Featured Image Photographed by Martin Hererra/BruinLife.

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