As summer approaches, many high school students begin the hunt for a great internship to complete. After you submit a resume and cover letter, you might receive an offer to come interview for that position. So, how do you ace that interview and score a prestigious internship this summer?
Even before you step foot into the company for your interview, there are crucial steps to complete in preparation.
Before the Interview
This is one of the most important steps to do and the one that will make a great candidate stand out in a sea of applicants. You may already know the basics of the position you applied for, but there is more to learn. The key things you want to research before your interview are:
- Who is you interviewer and what is their position?
- What’s the department you’re interviewing in? What kinds of work does the department do?
- What is their social media presence? Do they have a company website? What does their media presence tell you?
- What are the core values and mission statement of this company?
Knowing the answers to these four questions before you even walk through the door will make you a more informed candidate than the rest.
To prepare for the interview, it’s important to understand what the company is looking for in an applicant. Read the internship description carefully and look at the qualities they are looking for. Once you understand what the company wants, brainstorm past experiences in your life that can reveal the qualities the company is looking for. Stories are the most powerful tool you can use in an interview. Instead of saying you are a responsible person, talk about a time in your life where you were responsible, in a job or a leadership position in school.
Not only should you be identifying your strengths beforehand, you should also understand what your weaknesses are. It’s possible you might be asked in the interview what your greatest weakness is. You’ll want to prepare beforehand and come up with a positive spin on it. For example, lets say your weakness is that you’ve never held a job or internship before. To spin this, talk about leadership positions you’ve held in school, or volunteering you’ve done in your community. Maybe you’ve never held an official job, but you’ve done similar activities before.
You probably haven’t been on a lot of interviews and may be nervous. Have a friend of a parent give you a mock interview. This will allow you to loosen up and act natural on the real thing.
Day of Interview
Unless you’re interviewing somewhere like Goldman Sachs that has a clear suit and tie dress code, a nice button down and slacks will do just fine. Hygiene is just as important as attire; shower, brush your hair and teeth, and get a good night’s sleep so you are clean and energized when you go in.
Early is the New On Time
Showing up 15 minutes early is a good habit to get into. You never know when disaster might strike. Maybe the office is hard to find. Maybe a pigeon won’t get off the highway and you’re stuck in traffic. Leaving yourself some wiggle room can be the difference between getting the job or missing the interview entirely.
Bring a Copy of Your Resume
When I was 15, I went into an interview at a start-up and my interviewer asked for a hard copy of my resume. I did not bring one. Needless to say I did not get the internship.
During the Interview
Have a good attitude and smile! People want to work with co-workers who come into work each day with a positive attitude.
Create a Conversation
One way to do this is to do the mirror technique. If the interviewer mentions a big project they have coming up, you can say, “A big project? What is it about?” This creates a natural back and forth and shows engagement.
After the Interview
If you liked the position, follow-up and send your interviewer a thank you email, expressing your interest in the position. This will also reflect well on your ability to communicate.
Think About if the Internship is Right for You
Interviewing for an internship is a two way street; just because you are offered the position does not mean you have to take it. You want to work somewhere you are excited about. So if you leave the interview no longer interested in the position, it’s okay to say no thank you.
The first time you interview for an internship, it will be scary. But as you go on more interviews, this will become second nature. As long as you follow these tips and tricks, you should have no problem securing your dream internship this summer.