An internship is a crucial part of your college career. It helps you gain practical experience and keeps you competitive with other candidates after graduation. First step: You must ace the internship interview. By planning ahead and preparing for potential challenges, you can start the job interview feeling focused and confident.
Practice, Practice, Practice
An internship interview requires communicating professionally and framing your education and experience in a way that makes you an asset to the company. If you are not accustomed to talking about yourself and your accomplishments, don't wait until the job interview. Instead, start practicing immediately. Find lists of common interview questions online and practice answering them.
Once you overcome the initial awkwardness of answering questions out loud, ask a trusted friend to act as a mock interviewer, or look at your school's career center for interview practice sessions. Experiment with different anecdotes and answers of varying lengths.
These exercises serve a variety of purposes:
1. Forces you to think critically about your qualifications.
2. Helps to reduce stammering and stuttering.
3. Teaches you to adapt your answers on the fly at the actual internship interview.
Dress for Success
A great outfit and an overall confident appearance are your secret weapons. When you feel attractive and professional, it's easier to enter the room with self-assurance. Pick your attire for the internship interview well in advance to avoid rushing. Be sure to choose clothing that is neat, comfortable and pulled together. Run your interview outfits by a professor, parent or a professional in the field for a second opinion.
An internship interview is not the time to experiment with a new trend or try out a brand-new outfit for the first time. If you don’t feel comfortable, you could spend the whole session fussing with your pants or worrying about a neckline that's too low. Wear any new items for a full day before the job interview to verify comfort and fit.
Test the Route
Arriving late sets a bad tone and an even worse first impression that can be difficult to turn around. Prepare for the unexpected by visiting the interview location a few days in advance. Parking, in particular, is crucial. Learn where the visitor's lot is located and figure out how to operate the garage ticket machine, if needed. Also locate backup spots in case your first choice is full. All of your advance preparations can save time and reduce stress on the day of the internship interview.
If you're doing a phone interview, set up a quiet area the day before. Find a quiet room with a door that locks. Consider a study room in the library or a room away from siblings or activity in your parents' house. Test your cellphone reception, plug in a phone charging cable and make sure you have a desk and chair ready to go. Have a notepad and pen at the ready as well, so you can jot down critical information from the interview.
Pack an Emergency Kit
If you are having a face-to-face interview, here’s an important step you can take in advance to boost your confidence and avoid pitfalls: Prepare for accidents and unexpected challenges with a small emergency kit that slips into your bag.
Include breath mints for bad breath, a small sewing kit for unexpected tears, painkillers for a bad headache and a stain stick for spills. Other potential items include a toothbrush, toothpaste and adhesive bandages. Women should also include a comb and makeup removing wipes to combat hair or makeup disasters. If you spill coffee or get caught in the rain, your kit can return you to a presentable state in minutes.
Prepare Professional Materials
Before the internship interview, print five to 10 copies of your resume and slip them in your bag. That way, you can have extras on hand to give to potential contacts. If you have a portfolio, bring a physical copy to pass around. Print a list of questions to ask about the internship, the company and the culture, and pack a notebook and pen for note-taking. To make a professional impression, organize all of your supplies into a single binder or portfolio for easy access.
Manage Interview Stress
No matter how much preparation you do, the day of the internship interview can be stressful. Start the day with a vigorous workout to shed nervous energy. Talk to a roommate or family member to warm up your vocal chords and ease the roughness out of your voice. Don't forget to eat, even if your stomach is in knots. At a minimum, pack granola bars or another mess-free snack to eat on the way. Before you enter the building, take a moment to pause for a few deep breaths.
An internship interview can feel intimidating, but it is a necessary stop on the path to an internship and then a job interview. By overpreparing and planning for emergencies, you can minimize interview stress and stay focused on creating a professional impression with the potential internship supervisor.
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