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How to Nail Your Internship Interview

Sat, Mar 10, 2012

Internship Interview

You spent months doing research, sending out resumes and following up, all while juggling your college course load. And now you find you’ve actually got a slew of internship interviews to go to! You’re ecstatic, but also terrified, because the last thing you want is to have done all this work and then blow it in the interview room. So what can you do to nail that interview and land the internship that you want?

Be a boy scout. You may not have ever been one, but whatever the circumstances, a boy scout is always prepared. With that in mind, understand that your work landing an internship has only begun. Research the company you’re interviewing with in detail. Practice answering the questions they’re most likely to ask. And have a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer, if given the chance. If you can take the conversation even deeper than the interviewer was prepared for, they’ll be hugely impressed. Lastly, a boy scout always looks good, his uniform crisp and clean. Wear a good suit, and not your father’s or mother’s. It should fit well, be pressed, and say that you’re professional.

Make the right impression. You’re mentally prepared and you look your best, but first impressions are very important. Body language is an important ingredient in a successful interview. Do whatever you must to project a feeling of calm and confidence. Give a good handshake, and keep solid eye contact throughout the conversation. Take some time at the outset to disarm your interviewer with a casual conversation. It may be your first interview ever, but do your best to give off the feeling that you’ve done this before.

Sell your skills. You may feel you need this internship more than anything, but remember that the company you’re interviewing with needs talented team members, or they wouldn’t be looking. Even at the intern level, they want the best of the best. So be sure they know that’s who they have in the room. If you’re involved in a field where it makes sense, brings samples of your work to the interview. They’ll appreciate seeing you in action much more than simply hearing about it. But don’t be afraid to talk about your skills and accomplishments. Practice how to best describe your skillset before the interview, so you can put your best foot forward. And your grades are only the beginning. Discuss any volunteer work or extra-curricular activities you’ve taken part in, whatever computer, language or office skills you possess, and the personal skills that would make you a strong member of the team. And be positive. Don’t make it easy for the interviewer to turn you down. If you’re pushed into a situation where you need to address negatives, be honest about the things you need to improve upon, but do your best to shift the conversation towards the ways you’re successfully working on this negative area.

Follow their lead. You may be a candidate for a MBA strategic management, but you’re not there yet. So don’t try to outsmart the interviewer or force things. Try to gauge the amount of time they’re interested in a given answer, and stick to it. Feel free to ask them if they’ve received enough of an answer. And don’t be concerned about asking for clarification on a particular question. Hearing them rephrase it may even give you some inkling of what they’re looking for. In the end, you can prepare for weeks, but your ability to think on your feet and impress the interviewer on several levels is what will bring you through.

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