There are few things less terrifying than showing up to your first interview for an internship. Here are some tips and tricks to knock the socks off (am I dating myself here) of your interviewer.
What to expect
When you arrive you will most likely be greeted by a receptionist, who will find your interviewer or show you to a conference room. The first person to interview you will most likely give some background on the company, talk about what they do or the products they make and give some personal detail about their own career before they begin. After that, it is your turn!
Be prepared. This is a no-brainer but the way you prepare can have different success rates. See if career services offer mock interviews, find the best prep questions for your field and get your attire ready ahead of time. Also, give yourself plenty of time if you are driving to an unfamiliar place, you don’t know the parking situation or have to find the company inside an office building.
Don’t show up empty-handed. Bring a portfolio or nice folder that can hold resumes and has a space for notes. Write down important questions and items you want to mention ahead of time. It can be easy to forget when you are nervous. Always take 2 or 3 more resumes than you are anticipating, and put one on the table for yourself so you can look at it while being interviewed.
Be yourself. Companies look for people that fit into their work culture, and the better the fit the better experience for both of you. Don’t however, be too casual or attempt to be funny. Use good communication tactics, such as being concise and clear with your answers.
Have questions ready. When they ask if you have questions, say yes! Interviews are double sided, sure you need a job and experience but if this is your second go around, or you have more than one option you want to make sure it is a good fit.
Questions to Prepare For
Determine field specific questions that you should know, in addition to those questions here are some that all interviewers throw in from time to time. Questions like this are used to help the interviewer to understand your personality without point blank asking you if you are open to criticism, flexible, work well in teams and have a good work ethic.
- How would you go about starting a task you thought was impossible when first assigned?
- If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
- Can you describe a time you had to resolve a conflict for a class or team project?
- What are you passionate about? Do you have any hobbies outside of school?
Be yourself when answering these questions, memorable answers will make an impression. If you have interests outside of your major that okay, you should still mention it. Having things going on outside of school shows you are driven to make time to do other things. If you don’t have time to do much outside of work and school that’s okay too, supporting yourself to where you want to get in life is excellent as well. If you happen to be passionate about an aspect of your major speak to it, but make sure it’s honest.
Internship and Co-Op Interview Questions to Ask
How many interns does your company usually take on?
- This will give you an idea of how prepared they are for you, and what kind of experience they have had with interns. If they have more than one in the same department it can be a bonus for you as well. Having someone at a similar level to you in the office is nice when starting out.
Do you have a mentoring program?
- Mentors make all the difference in an internship! And you can tell when your mentor doesn’t actually want to mentor. If they have a program or can go into any type of details about the kinds of people that will be helping and working with you, that is usually a good sign.
What have intern projects been in the past? Are they team-based or individual?
- This will give you an idea of if this job is hands-off or hands-on and the type of people you will be working with.
What is your management style?
- If you are going for a co-op or longer type internship this is a great question to ask. It is going to tell you how the hiring manager works with their employees. Being micromanaged is never fun, but neither is a boss who is never around to help you.
What are the next steps?
- If you have any remote interest in the job, you should always ask this question at the end of the interview. They will let you know the timeframe in which they are deciding on a candidate. Ask for their business card if they didn’t already give you one.
Don’t let these questions sway you too much, say if a company hasn’t had a lot of interns or is new to the intern game. If you have a good vibe with someone and can tell they are excited about the possibility of having an intern go for it!
After the Interview
If you liked the company and what they had to offer, send a thank you email the next day. Be sure to thank them for their time, and detail what specifically you are most interested in learning from them. If you had more than one person interview you make sure you send each one an email. If you end up getting a job offer, you will probably be required to take a drug test before it is accepted.
Tip: Listen exactly to what the technician tells you when you go for your test. Don’t think you need to drink 4 bottles of water before you get there, you can actually dilute the sample and fail by default. My interns told me some horror stories about drug tests. If you fail the first one they make you stay onsite, and you have a certain amount of time to produce another sample, if this happens don’t freak out. There is 10% chance of returning a false positive. If you want more information check out this article from Healthline.
Keep in mind interns are usually paid an hourly rate set by the company, you don’t have a lot of negotiating power here unless you have some previous experience. Once you have a start date set, make sure you get information such as start and end times, dress code, and any other pertinent information for the first day!
If you didn’t get an interview don’t fret! Check out my last post to see other ways to build up your communication skills for next time. When I was a freshman I applied to 40 some jobs and did not get a single one. There were so many other students who had more knowledge from an additional year of school ahead of me. Keep working at it and get those grades up if necessary. Check out your learning resource center or library if you need a tutor, or ask some friends to start studying. I will be coming out with a post on study tips in the next few weeks!
Thanks for stopping by,