Congratulations! You have just landed your first internship interview after sending out myriads of applications. Or you probably literally walked into the first opportunity to interview for an internship position. Both of these achievements are commendable, and you should be proud of yourself. The best internships help you develop your skills and get your foot in the door – so you can start making a more significant impact. They’re a great way to begin your career or take it in a new direction.
During an internship, you’re given loads of responsibility but still receive the mentorship and support you need to succeed. But you first have to get over the first hurdle, the interview! Suddenly, you begin to experience a wave of anxiety. This interview may well be your first ever! You don’t know what to expect or even how to handle it. Relax; many have been in your shoes before. The difference between confident internship interviewees and clueless ones is following these tried and tested interview tips to the letter.
- What is an internship Interview
- How to prepare for an internship interview
- Questions to expect during an internship interview
- How to answer internship interview questions
- General internship interview etiquette
What is an Internship Interview?
Being an intern means you get paid for learning, not for past work experience. It is a temporary position that usually offers to deliver you the base rate pay or a stipend. The payment is generally made weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the organization’s internship program. Many organizations provide full-time employment to exemplary interns at the end of their internship period. However, it is essential to note that the main aim of an internship is to provide you with an opportunity to grow your skillset and gain more knowledge in your profession.
You must be wondering what an interview for this position is and why you need to interview for a learning position. Well, internships require a certain level of education and professionalism. The internship interview is just a test of sorts to gauge how well you understand your chosen profession. It is also an opportunity for your prospective employee to find out if you have what the organization is looking for in an intern.
How to Prepare for an Internship Interview
In the days leading up to your d-day with the interviewer, you can start preparing early. Don’t be lax in your approach to your internship interview. It would be best if you approached it as you would a regular job interview. Remember that it is an actual interview in a formal setting.
Here are a few pointers to help you get ready to ace your interview. These tips will also help you look and act professionally on the day of your interview;
Research the organization offering you an internship
The internet is a great resource to turn to when you need information, especially about organizations. Visit the company website and find out about their best practices. Read and take note of their goals, vision, and mission statements. These will give you a pretty conclusive summary of what the organization is about and what it stands for.
Prepare questions about your position.
Once you have taken a tour of the company website, you should understand what your position will entail. If a few questions come up in your mind that the information on the website does not address, write these down. Keep them until the interview day, and be sure to ask the interviewer at the appropriate moment.
Put together a portfolio.
Your portfolio could be anything from recent work that you did, similar to your interview position. It could also consist of any work you have done for community projects, giving you a leg up in the interview process. While this may not be a requirement, it will give you extra points for preparedness.
Compile a list of FAQs
Most professional interviewers will ask some questions that are typically identical. Research which ones these could be and note them down. While the interviewer understands that you are far from being an expert in their field, questions are a way of determining how engaging you can be or how you react on the fly.
Rehearse the internship interview
Armed with this list of questions, you can set up a mock interview. The purpose of this action is not to have you memorize the answers to these questions. It is to help you think clearly and answer concisely on the fly. Suppose you have friends to help you and be mock interviewers, even better. However, standing in front of your bathroom mirror will work just fine.
Prepare your clothes
Different organizations have differing dress codes, depending on their line of business. Find out from the company website if a dress code is to be adhered to, and choose your outfit accordingly. If there is no actual dress code stipulated online, it’s safest to go with a formal business look.
Plan to be punctual
Create a calendar meeting invite for yourself and have a timer set on your devices for the d-day—scheduled to arrive at the interview location at least 15 minutes ahead of time. Clear your calendar of any obligations on that day before time. If you have any pending responsibilities on the day of your interview, plan to reschedule or have someone else take care of them.
Questions to Expect During an Internship Interview and How to Answer Them
Preparation before your internship interview will help you feel more confident and relaxed when you sit before the panel. Interview questions may vary, but some of the most common ones to expect and how to answer them are listed below;
Tell us a little about yourself.
Never has such a simple question turned the most stoic person into a mass of nerves than before an interview panel. This question is one of the most commonly asked at interviews, yet probably the trickiest. You can expect this question to be the first one to be fielded. To answer briefly, include relevant details such as where you come from, your educational qualifications, roles you have taken before that are similar to those you are interviewing for, etc. Here’s a quick example.
“Hi, I’m Dana from Chicago. I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the Roosevelt University in Chicago. I undertook a volunteer role at the children’s hospital recently where I worked with the head Psychologist to counsel parents of children suffering from terminal cancer. When I’m not working on keeping my GPA high, I love to take long walks and play the cello.”
Why are you interested in our organization?
How you answer this question will be based entirely on your level of preparedness. If you took the time to research the organization you are interviewing for, you should be fully prepared to tackle this query. This question is used to measure your enthusiasm for the position and your expectations of the company.
Your answer should be enthusiastic and specific to your expectations from the organization. You can use your answer as an opportunity to talk about your values and passion. If your role is in a marketing organization as a marketing intern, your answer could sound something like this;
“I am excited about your organization’s commitment to reaching the consumer with impactful, driven messages about brands. My passion has always been to interact with the consumer by way of speaking to them in a language they identify with. I believe this internship opportunity will allow me to craft messages that resonate with your audience.”
Tell us about a situation where you took a leadership role on your initiative.
The purpose of this question is to find out if you are a self-driven individual with leadership traits. There is no cookie-cutter pattern to answer this question. Answering this question is an opportunity to put yourself out there by sharing episodes that saw you take on leadership roles without coercion. It could be anything from a group project for your undergrad course or leading a team in your community initiative projects.
Remember to use only factual and honest information if the interviewer should probe further for more details. Also, please don’t be vague as it only points to a lack of confidence. An example of how to answer this question is illustrated below;
“During the summer program of my undergrad course, I was assigned a project with a section of my course mates. As we discussed the details, I realized that we would not make any headway unless we had a point-person. I volunteered to lead our group and we managed to finish our project with lots of time to spare that summer.”
Do you have any questions for us?
The wrong answer to this question is no. You should always have questions to ask the interviewer. The chances are that an expert in your field is interviewing you. Furthermore, this may be the only chance you will have to address any concerns about the position. Ensure that you have a list of relevant questions prepared. Keep these to a minimum of two or three to avoid eating into the next panelist’s time.
General Internship Interview Etiquette
You now have a clear picture of what to expect on the day of the internship interview. You are almost there in terms of preparation. However, another aspect of interviews that has been overlooked often leads to a dismal performance in your interview. It could also cause you to lose the opportunity of a lifetime. Interview etiquette is the final piece to the puzzle.
How should you conduct yourself before, during, and after an interview? These simple tips and pointers should help you carry yourself well and ace your interview. Your preparation could come short if you were to ignore or even overlook some of these tips.
We cannot overemphasize this point. Arriving on time shows that you are a focused individual who takes others seriously and would like to be taken seriously. It also points to your respect for the time of others. Most interviewers will write you off for coming in late, even before they get to interview you. If they do interview you at all, it may be an act of courtesy.
Dress appropriately for your internship interview
We covered this point when dealing with your expectations for the interview. Ensure that you are dressed right according to company guidelines. If none exists on the dress code, stick to a professional look that will not be out of place in any corporate setting. Since most young people may not have a formal wardrobe, you have ample time before your interview to find an appropriate outfit.
Maintain eye contact
Maintaining eye contact speaks volumes about your confidence. Shifty eyes and sideways glances during the interview will only serve to disqualify you as a candidate who is not sure of themselves. Maintain eye contact with the person speaking without turning it into a staredown competition.
Wait your turn before speaking.
Regardless of how pressing a question is, note it down and wait for your opportunity to speak. Do not interrupt anyone when they are speaking, as it may be considered rude and impetus. Usually, an interviewer will invite you to say. Before then, remain patient.
You’ve Got This Internship Interview in the Bag
All in all, being invited to take part in an interview is a win in itself. It means that the organization you reached out to saw something worth pursuing in you. Please eliminate the impostor syndrome because you have what it takes to take on the internship position.
Start preparing for your interview as soon as you receive your invitation. It’s never too early to get prepared. By following these tips shared above, you are well on your way to acing your interview. It may be a bit intimidating, especially if this is your first interview, but we can almost guarantee that you will ace your interview with these stellar tips.