We can all agree that a first impression is essential. The same general rule applies to your internship or a job interview with any company. Your interview is the first step into that company and its culture. We all want to leave a good or even a great impression of ourselves to remember. However, sometimes it can be quite a challenge, especially when stepping into the job market.
So here we share five essential and practical tips on having a great internship interview.
1. Act natural
Start the interview by saying hello to veryone and smiling – it looks polite and natural but respectful. However, the critical part comes after hello. During the interview, when sharing information about yourself, and answering questions, don’t try to act like a different person than you are.
We all have different personalities, and that can become a bonus. If you are outgoing and bubbly, don’t try to be rigid and super serious during the interview – we all love smiles and a little humour. Applying for an internship is different from applying for a management position, and one of the main things recruiters look for is a cultural fit.
So don’t be afraid to shine and show your personality – acting naturally in your internship interview is one of the key things we evaluate. After all, we seek to find the best match between you and our teams. Experience and skills are significant, but your personality is equally or even more important.
2. Pay attention to details
Make sure that you focus on the people you speak to during your interview. What are they saying? What are they asking? It’s essential to hear and actually listen to what is being said to you. Why? No one likes to repeat themselves, mainly because it can give the impression that you are not interested or, worse, have no respect for the interviewers.
Spacing out due to stress is possible and does happen, but you can always say something like, “I apologize, I am a little nervous, so could you please repeat your question?” Honesty is always a appreciated.
3. Be professional
Being professional is not the same as having experience in your field. It’s how you behave and act around other people around you. Here are a couple of examples of what it means to be professional:
Don’t be late for your interview. It seems everyone should hold on to this rule. However, it doesn’t exactly work like that all the time. Life happens, and there will be a time in your life when you are late for an interview. So how to act professionally in this situation? First off, give a heads up. If you see that you will be late, call, or, if not possible, text your contact at the company and explain that you will not be able to make it on time for a specific reason.
Another thing to remember is to always turn off your electronic devices. Check if you have turned off your smartphone’s sound and vibration functions, and make sure you don’t have any reminders set before, during or after the interview. Also, do not look at your smartphone or smartwatch during the interview – it looks disrespectful. In summary, treat others the way you would like to be treated.
4. Don’t stress
The interviews can be quite stressful, so remember to take a breath once in a while. It’s more than okay to say that you don’t know the answer. It will only show that you are not afraid of admitting your knowledge has limits, just like any other professional. Admitting not knowing something but then asking about it shows that you are eager to learn.
For example, a company asks you if you know anything about them. It’s your first or maybe one of the first internship interviews, you are not exactly sure what they do, or you just do not have enough knowledge to understand what they do. You can say something like, “I have looked you up, and I know that you work in a certain industry, and I know that you provide certain services or sell certain products. However, I am not aware of the full list of your activities, so I wanted to ask, maybe you could tell me more about your company?”. It shows that you looked into the matter, that you are not afraid to admit you do not know something, and that you are ready to learn.
5. Show your motivation
Always share your motivation during the interview. However, remember to have real and strong arguments for it. Prepare before the interview:
- Look up the company’s website
- Check out the company values
- Think about what you seek to learn from your internship
Having these things ready will let you create concrete reasons why you are interested in the internship position. Maybe it’s to explore a new career path? Maybe it’s to gain real skills in your field of study? Or anything else. Sharing who you are and what you wish is what recruiters look for.
But what about that scary question: can you tell me about yourself?
Often, it’s the most dreaded question out of all of them. You get lost in your mind, have no idea what to say, and start mumbling. Should you talk about your personal life? Should you talk only about your professional achievements? Should you talk about your studies?
Most of the time, the best way is to go through a few things. Because it’s your internship interview, start by sharing the name of your studies and which year you are in. Then, share what kind of professional things you have achieved. Maybe you are involved in some projects at the university? Maybe you are taking some courses? Finally, tie everything up by saying how these things have led you to apply for this internship position.
In addition, don’t be afraid to mention your interesting hobbies or experiences, they can show your motivation and personal features. For example, maybe you have taken a trip recently, and it cleared your head about what kind of a career you want? It shows that you are motivated to work in a specific field
When you are applying for an internship, don’t be afraid to show who you are – often, the cultural fit and eagerness to learn are the determining factors if you would fit within the company.