The Intern's Diary | how to ace that interview

03:00:00

Series Starter of The Intern's Diary | welcome to the intern's diary
Chapter One of The Intern's Diary | how to find the internship

Chapter Two

You've found the internship and you've handed in your application package. Within a few days, you get a phone call from a number that you don't really recognize (am I the only one who screens their calls for unrecognizable numbers?). You answer it and realize that it's the internship director you had sent your application to, a couple of days ago. Being the organized and proactive person you are, you already have your pen and paper ready to jot down important notes. Your interview is scheduled for next week... now what?

Interviews can seem like a very intimidating process of the whole application process but until a better method of determining one's qualification can be discovered, interviews will be something we'll (sadly) have to do. 

Le Northern Belle | The Intern's Diary | how to ace that interview

I like to think that I have been through my fair share of interviews, especially after this year, and each one has taught me something about how to interview. There may be some different/additional elements when interviewing for positions in other industries, but at its core, most interview elements stay consistent.

entry one: the ooti (outfit of the interview)


Believe it or not, your outfit is a great influencer. It probably won't give you the job, but wear the wrong or inappropriate outfit, and you might as well just kiss the internship goodbye. Your outfit (and any non-verbal cues i.e. body language) are the first thing an interviewer notices, long before you introduce yourself. Knowing the kind of industry you're interviewing for, will be a key factor for picking the right ensemble. If you're able (inconspicuously) visit the company you're applying to, you can spring some inspiration from what their employees are wearing. A good rule of thumb is to look at what everyone is wearing, and then step it up a notch. No one ever complained that someone looked too overdressed for an interview (and if they have, I wanna hear that story!)

entry two: bring some reinforcements (what to bring to an interview)

The last thing you want happening in an interview is being asked for something that you forgot to bring. Being proactive and trying to think of anything that could be asked of you is key to a successful interview. Even if it's not asked of you, it's better to be safe than sorry. I highly suggest you bring at least 2 copies of your cover letter and resume package. One is for you to follow along (though you should know your resume like the back of your hand) and the other is for your interviewer (in case they forget the copy you sent them or a secondary interview happens afterward with another employee).

entry three: the internship coordinator's dog's name is Pekoe

Alright, so maybe you don't need to go that detailed into the company, but you definitely want to research the company and the works of the department you're applying into. It's good to know some of the projects that the company is currently working on, and it can even be a topic to ask a question about (if the interviewer is knowledgeable about the project). Being able to connect the company's brand, mission and goals to your own passions will help show how you best align with the company.

entry four: the so-hard-it's-easy question

This question is super short and goes a little like this:

"Tell me about yourself?"

I used to hate (I know hate is a strong word) this question when I was first applying for summer jobs (back when I was 15), but now, it's not as hard of a question once you've prepped for it. Pretty much your "elevator pitch" would be your answer to a question like this. What's an elevator pitch? It is a brief blurb about yourself that can give the listener a decently good understanding of who you are. It should be brief enough, about 30 seconds in length, yet thorough. You want to leave the interviewer curious to learn more about you. If done well, it can easily set a positive tone for the rest of the interview. This is usually the first question asked, so this is your time to make your first verbal impression!  Things you should touch on include:

Name
Degrees (either completed or in progress)
Why are you applying for this job? (i.e. passion, dream career, etc.)
What makes you a great candidate? (i.e. past experiences, what sets you apart from others)

Refer back to the roles and responsibilities of the position when preparing your elevator pitch, then practice it until it comes naturally.

entry five: the non-verbal

Ever heard of the saying: "Actions speak louder than words?" Even if you're hitting all the right points in the interview, having the body language that does mirror what your saying can be a great hindrance. Make good eye contact, sit straight and be alert/pay attention!

entry six: bring your storytelling game

People love a good story. It can easily capture a listener and is a tactic that I believe is beneficial in an interview, when appropriate. For the scenario-based or past experiences based questions definitely try to utilize more of a storytelling technique. Give a little back story to set the environment for the interviewer before answer the question

entry seven: it's time for a role-reversal

I've heard from many interviewers that they have specifically not hired a candidate because they didn't ask any questions. You should certainly be asking question post-interview, especially to clarify anything that was said by the interviewer during the interview. Ask more specific questions about the company and the internship that were not provided in the job posting or could only be known by an employee. Some questions to ask are:

What is the company culture/environment like? How do the employees work with each other?
What personal qualities are you looking for in your ideal candidate?
When will I hear back in regards to this position?
What are the some of the projects I would be partaking as the so-and-so intern?
From an employee standpoint, what do you think makes this company unique?

entry eight: let's play keep up

After you've parted ways from your interview and interviewer, you need to get started on a thank you note. If you can find a place to sit nearby (like a coffee shop or library), I would highly suggest you send a handwritten (preferably) or an email thank you note. You want to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet and interview you. In the note, you want to reiterate how excited you are for the position and why you will be a great candidate for the position. Adding an interesting point that was made during the interview helps differentiate you from all the possible other candidates. Hopefully, you'll get a reply of some sort that will identify the next steps of the application process. Unless they give you a date as to when they will make a decision, I would send a follow-up email one week and two weeks after your interview.

weekly challenge

This week's challenge is an Instagram challenge! With today's blog topic in mind, your challenge is to post a picture onto Instagram with an interview outfit you wore for a job that you ended up snagging! Let me, and the other interns, know what the job/job field was. Don't forget to add the hashtag #internsdiary so we can all find you!

Good luck this week!

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