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It’s not a secret that internships rule. They’re a great way to gain post-graduate connections and beef up your resume. You can dazzle your employers after you land the internship, but first you’ve got to win them over at your interview. After hours of scouring the web for internship openings, writing cover letters and tweaking your resume, you’ll hopefully hear from an employer who’d like to meet for an interview. We’ve all heard the horror stories about college students who totally bombed their internship interviews: The candidate who chomps his gum through the meeting or the girl who arrives 30 minutes late to her interview.
If you believe you would be an A+ intern, follow these six tips to ensure you ace the interview first:
1. Bring hard copies of your resume and portfolio. It’s always a good idea to bring a copy or two of your resume in case your interviewer doesn’t have it on hand. Even though most resumes and portfolios are now displayed online, you can leave hard copies of both items with your interviewer following the meeting. The interviewer can then reference your portfolio without typing a URL into their browser or trying to find it through your social media accounts. If you’d like to direct them to your online portfolio, type the URL on a label and stick it on the inside of your binder.
2. Dress professionally. You don’t want the interviewer to remember you for the wrong reasons, such as that low cut top or wrinkled t-shirt. Prior to your interview, review the company’s culture to get an idea of its dress code. Make sure your outfit is modest, clean and wrinkle-free. When in doubt, a pair of dress slacks and a button-down shirt is a solid choice.
3. Anticipate certain questions – but also ask a few yourself. There are a handful of interview questions that you can expect almost any employer to ask: “What did you learn from your last job?” “What is one of your weaknesses?” “Why would you like to intern here?” Get an idea of these potential questions and start drafting a few points to answer each one. On the other hand, most interviewers will conclude the meeting by asking if you have any questions for them. Research the company’s website and compile a mental list of a few questions about them – it will show you did your research.
4. Remember your manners. Basic etiquette applies. Don’t chew gum. Sit up straight. Try to avoid using filler words such as “ummm” or “like” – you know the drill. If you have questions about this one, call up your grandmother.
5. Show up on time. Try to arrive about 10 minutes early to your interview. Don’t arrive too early, though; you might come across as desperate or they might be in the middle of a prior meeting. If you are stuck in traffic, hopefully you won’t get penalized – but be sure to have phone numbers on hand so you can call if you’re in a jam.
6. Be yourself. A lot of employers use the interview as an opportunity to see if you might mesh with the organization’s culture or workflow method. Although you should still mind your manners, try to relax and project your personality. Not only will you seem confident, but it might give the interviewer a break from hours of meeting with nervous or timid candidates.
Students – how did you master your interview? Employers – do you have any interview horror stories you’d like to share?
Sloppy dresser photo credit: R.A.G. New York