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The interview process for internships is just as formal and intentional as if interviewing for a full-time job. Follow these tips for the ultimate first impression.
Before the Interview
- Keep track. When using large databases keep a notepad or Excel document that tracks all of your applications with the job function, contact information and date of application.
- Be prepared. Practice behavioral interview questions with a partner or schedule a practice interview with the Career Resource Center. Remove as many unknowns from the equation as possible to reduce stress: research the company, take a test drive to the interview site, print out extra copies of your résumé and prepare relevant questions to ask the interviewer.
- Dress the part. Plan and try on your attire in advance. Every company is different and some might have more relaxed dress codes then others. However, in an interview men should be dressed in a full suit and tie, while women should be dressed in a skirted suit or pantsuit. If you are unsure of the dress code, always default on the conservative side.
During the Interview
- Focus. Be attentive and mindful of the discussion between yourself and the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, smile and take your time for each question. If you find yourself losing focus, ask the interviewer to rephrase the question and get yourself back on track.
- Ask relevant questions. Ask questions that you care about, such as main expectations of the internship, your supervisor's management style, the goals of the department, what your training will look like or how you will fit into the team. By asking solid questions, you demonstrate to the employer serious consideration on your part in applying to the internship.
- Realize value. Demonstrate through your respectful behavior and quality performance, that you understand the value of the opportunity being presented. An internship provides a concrete means to achieve a deeper perspective on your future while serving the employer.
- Anticipate employer needs. Bring copies of your résumé and any additional application materials to the interview. Reserve one résumé for yourself, as it will serve as a great "cheat sheet" should you need the help.
- External advice from U.S. News & World Report: Five words to avoid saying in interviews
After the Interview
- Stay alert. Although the interview is over be mindful of your language, posture and appearance during your exit. Remember, there are eyes on you. For example, perhaps the interviewer has asked the office manager or parking lot attendant to observe your actions and to provide feedback after you have left the premises.
- Say thank you. Send a professional thank you e-mail immediately after the interview; and then a formal letter through U.S. mail afterward. Reiterate your interest in the position and offer to provide any additional information if necessary. Not only is this is a sign of courtesy, but a simple means to create an advantage over your competition.
Many internship interviews begin with a telephone screening. Keep these basic tips in mind:
- Charge up your phone beforehand or use a land-line if available for best reception
- Find a quiet room away from distractions, noise, pets, television, roommates
- Stand up and smile when speaking - this will improve the strength of your voice
- Lay out your résumé, cover letter, the job description, a notepad and any questions for easy access
- Ask the interviewer to repeat questions you do not hear or to rephrase questions you do not understand
- Wait for the interviewer to set the pace and be comfortable with silence - the interviewer may be taking notes
- Ask about next steps as well as any contact information necessary for follow-up
- Follow-up with a thank you just the same as face-to-face interviews