How to Prepare for Internship Interviews
By Wim Dodson
You are from a diverse background, but you’re not a professional. At least, not yet. You want to be, though. You want to shine. You want to contribute. You want everyone to see how brilliant (intellectually, creatively and personally) you are. Internships are a stepping stone to your career path.
Unfortunately, you’re likely nervous beyond imagination. How to present yourself? What will they ask you? What will you ask them? And how to position your diversity background so it’s an asset, instead of being perceived as a liability?
Preparation is key here, if for no other reason than to focus your mind on something other than your nervousness. But what to prepare, and how to prepare?
Things To Bring
There are a couple of things that you need to remember to bring. A notepad or folio or some sort is important. If ever you require to take down some notes during the interview, then you can do so. Make it a nice notebook. Folios, typically faux-leather bound, are attractive and show you off as the professional you know you are.
Additionally, it would be valuable if you bring two copies of your resume: one for you and one for the primary interviewer. Often, the hiring manager will not have a chance to print a copy for review. Show that you are so well prepared you can help coworkers in their preparation, as well.
Print and take with you any application form that you've completed for the job. This can be handy in evaluating the job and refreshing your memory about the position. You can also write small notes in the margin of the form next to specific items. The scribblings will remind you later of specific points.
Try Not To Be Disoriented
Expect different interview styles, depending on the business. Different formats, too. For instance, technology companies are partial technical interviews in which the candidate must stand in front of a white board and answer questions hurled at them from engineers.
Some interviews require you to only meet one person: the hiring manager. Other companies may have you run a gauntlet of face-to-face interrogations while you “meet the team.”
There may even be a bit of humiliation mixed in with the interviews. High-pressure financial and law firms in New York City are reputed to have candidates sit for hours without moving before they are called for an interview. “You move, you lose,” goes the expression. You won’t be called back for interview if you leave before the time they’ve decided on.
There are also question-and-response types of interview. These are typically done in a casual setting. When done in a very official setting, the format can be a presentation you are asked to deliver to a panel interview in which three to five individuals pepper you with questions.
The Key Questions
The question that would top the list of the most common interview questions would be "Why do you wish to work for this company?". It’s a disarming but important question. You should consider a succinct answer to the question ahead of the interview. Some interviewers may use your answer as a deciding factor in whether to hire you.
Another one is "Why have you applied to this job specifically?". Since you are angling for an internship, you can respond that you the position to acquire more experience, useful understanding, and direct exposure on the job
Other standard questions include: "How do you believe you can contribute to the organization through the role?", and "Where do you see yourself in, say, 10 years time?".
Always try to provide prompt, straight-forward, meaningful answers. Taking the long way to your answer or providing too much detail or going too far back in your otherwise short history turns off interviewers. Try to be as practical as possible with your answers, providing an instance in which you solved a problem relevant to the question.
Preparing well for the interviews will surprise and delight most interviewers. Frankly, mainstream professionals tend to have low estimations of diverse candidates the moment they set eyes on the job seeker. Preparation will not only blow their misguided presumptions out of the water, but will leave a positive and uplifting impression on companies.