The sun is setting on 2016 and with the new year comes new and exciting opportunities, especially concerning internships. Whether you’re rounding the corner on your college career, graduated with a crisp diploma in your hand, or in search of a fresh start somewhere new, we’ve got the guide to crush your internship interview filled with a first-hand perspective you won’t find in any Google search.
Before The Internship Interview
Pinpoint your ideal internship and your qualifications. This may require assessing what you consider desirable in an internship. First and foremost, what are you passionate about? How might this particular internship set those passions ablaze? Is it the client base and work? What about a shared viewpoint or mindset? These commonalities will springboard your ability to do what you love and love what you do.
Consider what falls under your major. What do you have experience in? Is this particular internship position within your wheel house? Why or why not? These questions will help you compile a list of possible jobs and internships that you’re interested in and weed out those that aren’t complementary to your passions.
Evaluate your personal brand. If you haven’t already, start thinking of yourself as a personal brand. It’s never too late to begin advocating for who you are and the talents you possess. What do you believe people associate with you when they hear your name? Know what you stand for and determine what promise you always deliver on. Are there any qualities in particular that set you apart? Incorporate your personal brand into your resume, social channels and determine how to articulate it during the internship interview.
Audit your online presence. These days, your digital footprint is traceable and can greatly affect landing a job or internship. Google yourself and scan your online presence through the lens of your grandmother or a potential employer. Update your LinkedIn to accurately reflect your resume and past experience, online portfolios are on the rise and are a good way to portray your skills and talents.
Keep up with your resume. Regularly update and tailor your resume to fit the position description. Shed light on relevant experience in past roles. Expect to be asked to explain each line item and hold yourself accountable to that. Don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget to print copies of your resume to distribute at the interview.
Look up possible interviewers beforehand. This will prevent you from drawing a blank after several handshakes. Knowing who you will be interviewed by can ease your nerves beforehand. It may be helpful to craft questions that are personalized to each person’s background.
Lastly and most importantly, research. It’s crucial to understand the position, company, and industry. Explore everything there is to know about XYZ industry. Not sure where to start this exploration? Don’t fret! We’ve got a road map below to arm you with knowledge prior to the big day.
• Read up on the emerging trends and challenges within the market and form your own opinion or interpretation.
• Be curious and learn about the history of the company and the direction it is going.
• Take a look at the website, past work and social media efforts to familiarize yourself with the company (i.e. at an agency interview, you’ll want to specifically point out a recent campaign you enjoyed and why).
• Form questions that reflect your curiosity and unique personality. Compile a list and familiarize yourself with it. Don’t forget that the more interesting your questions are, the more likely you are to be a memorable interview.
• Be an expert on the position. Walk into the room knowing the position requirements backwards and forwards and what your responsibilities would be on a day-to-day basis. This level of preparation is impressive to the hiring manager and gives you the gift of time to explain why and how you would excel in the position rather than asking what it entails.
Day Of Interview
Dress to Impress. Pick out a professional outfit and make sure it isn’t loud or distracting. Take a lap or two around the house in your chosen footwear. This will ensure you can walk with confidence and without fear of losing your footing. You don’t want to have a Jennifer-Lawrence-tripping-at-the-Oscars moment. Pick one thing about your outfit that may stand out, it will help the interviewer remember you.
Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Plan accordingly and account for possible traffic, parking situations, locating the office and checking in at the front desk. If possible, take a 5-minute bathroom break before entering the office to compose yourself, check your phone, turn off your phone and do last minute primping.
During The Interview
It’s show time. Upon entry, express gratitude during initial greetings for the interviewer’s time and consideration. Be ready to talk about yourself and have an elevator speech of sorts prepared that is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about yourself. It communicates who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re hoping to go and how you can benefit the company or organization as an employee.
Sprinkle in some flavor. Contrary to popular belief, you can in fact be professional and show your funny bone simultaneously during an internship interview.
Don’t be afraid to express your ability to work hard. The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately. Make this clear to those across the table from you, they will respect the honesty and take note of your will to get the job done around the clock.
Focus on your strengths. When you’re surrounded by seasoned professionals it’s natural to feel like you lack experience or industry knowledge. Instead of highlighting this in conversation, emphasize your eagerness to learn, grow and be successful. Many companies and organizations hire character and train skill.
Be prepared for Q&A. Questions posed towards you during an internship interview may pertain to your knowledge of the company, resume, and goals for the future. Answers should convey your passion for the industry and position. Take a few seconds to respond if it allows you to collect your thoughts. Be mindful of transitions and filler words such as “you know” or “um” or “like” that distract the listener from the meat of your message. Listen to understand and not just to respond.
Make a strategic exit. Ask for business cards if they aren’t already in your possession. Shake hands and thank each person again for their time and consideration. Walk out with confidence and be sure to thank the front desk personnel.
After The Interview
Follow up ASAP. Thank them for their time and consideration. Be sure to include the date you met and position/job title. This is also a good section to divulge how appreciative you are for the opportunity and meeting the various team members. Reference anything you said that seemed to resonate with the interviewers and the “connection” you may have made. Reiterate your interest and excitement about the opportunity. Again, keep it simple but significant.
If you’d like to take it a step further, follow up with a handwritten note. This is another effective tactic proven to be memorable. Many of the tips and tricks above for email can be re-purposed and incorporated into a handwritten follow-up note.
Be persistent but not excessive. If you don’t hear back within a week, a good rule of thumb is to send an additional email to check in on the hiring process.
Well, that was a mouthful! If your brain is fried by this enormous amount of information, good. Knowledge is power. If we’ve left you feeling encouraged and empowered, even better. Internship Interviews are a chance to showcase your best self and capitalize on new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to step out on a limb. Test out these tips and see for yourself. Comfort zones are so 2016.
BTW. If you’re seeking a Spring or Summer internship, check out our careers page for opportunities in the account service, design, and digital departments.