The primary purpose of an interview is to determine the match between the prospective employee and the organization.
The process focuses on 3 areas:
- Is the person qualified for the job?
- Are they motivated to perform their duties?
- Are they suited to the organization?
“I got the interview! Now what!?”
Consider the interview to be like a dress rehearsal for the role.
- Date and time – be sure you have the accurate date and time. Plan to arrive early.
- Contact information – bring the name and contact phone number of the person you will be meeting.
- Location – be sure you know the exact address and any additional access information. Consider: is it on a specific floor, will you need to sign, and who will you need to ask upon arrival. Be sure you have accurate directions. Better yet, if possible, make a dry run to be sure you know the route. If you're using public transportation, make sure you have a current schedule and allow for additional walking time so you're not out of breath when you arrive!
- What to bring – even if you submitted a resume to secure an interview, it is always appreciated to have a few current copies of your resume on hand. Also, bring a copy of your references to leave with the interviewer, in addition to a portfolio (if applicable). Also consider if there is any documentation that you should bring with you.
- You should be prepared to answer some common interview questions, whether or not you are asked them
- What do you hope to get out of this internship experience?
- What kind of schedule would you anticipate? (Have your schedule on hand, as an interviewer might ask if you are available at specific times or on specific days)
- What makes you interested in this role/field/organization?
- What do you think are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- Be prepared to ask some questions of your own! An interview is also your opportunity to learn about the site, your interviewer/potential supervisor, and the opportunity you may be offered.
- Your questions should demonstrate that you've done your homework about the potential internship site.
- Questions should not be unnecessarily specific – that is, it's not the right time to ask "how long of a lunch break is offered?" – but it might be important to ask "If I need to leave by 2pm on Tuesdays to make it back for class, will that present a concern?"
- Be careful not to ask a question that has already been answered! It can be helpful to prepare a few questions to bring with you, but you should be listening during the interview, so if one of your questions was already answered, it's okay to say "I was going to ask about X, but we already covered that" or simply skip the question. You also may develop new questions based upon what you hear during the interview. Saying "You mentioned the new after school program (insert specific event/program/initiative), can you tell me more about that?"
- Do ask about next steps if that has not been discussed. It is important to politely ask whether they need anything further from you and when you can expect to hear back from them. You should also share any deadlines that you have – if you need to have an internship site secured by a specific date, it may be helpful to provide this timeframe if it was not already discussed. It can always help to express your interest and enthusiasm in a genuine way!
- Think balance. They are interviewing you, but you are always there to learn more about them. You are being interviewed for an internship that should support your learning, but you also need to be prepared to bring your “A” game to them.
- Hold off on asking about salary and benefits until you have been offered the position.
- Practice! If the thought of interviewing makes you nervous, or you are prone to keeping quiet in new environments, ask someone to practice with you. A little preparation goes a long way toward reducing nervous energy. Being prepared can reduce anxiety and increase your confidence.
- Follow up with a thank you! This is both thanking people as you prepare to leave the interview, but also a written thank you for the time the interviewer has given you. Send an actual thank you by mail – it's a step above an e-mail!
- In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional information or get an answer to a specific question. Be sure you do, and in a timely manner.
- Be patient and await a response, but keep an eye on the calendar. If you have not received a response when it was indicated, give it a day and place a call or send an e-mail to check in. A brief message acknowledging when you last spoke, your interest in the internship, and a request for an update, if available.
Sample Interview Questions
Below are some sample questions you may be asked in an interview.
- What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
- How would you describe yourself?
- How do you think a friend/professor would describe you?
- How has your college experience prepared you to enter the job market?
- Why should I hire you?
- In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
- What have you learned from participating in extracurricular activities?
- Tell me how you handled a time when a team member did not carry his or her weight on the team.
- Describe a major problem you faced and how you handled it.
- Tell us about a time when you failed at somethin gand how you handled the situation.
- For other questions, check out the Quintessential Sample Behavioral Interview Questions
In order to effectively answer Behavioral Questions, you will want to become familiar with the STAR method:
|Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.|
|Action||Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.|
|What happened? What was the result? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?|
- What is the next step in the process?
- Can you tell me more about … (something you have learned in your research)?
- Whom would I report to?
- What upcoming projects do you anticipate?
- What are your expectations of the person who will fill this role?
- May I have a business card?
Developing your Elevator Speech
You only have 30 seconds to make a powerful first impression. The attention span of the average person is just 30 seconds before their mind starts wandering. The other reason is people have less time today. You need to grab them quickly or lose them forever. Click here for more information regarding your elevator speech and a fill-in-the-blank exercise to help you get started.
What is Professionalism?
Merriam-Webster defines professionalism as "the conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person."
Practicing professionalism as an intern is extremely important. As interns have the opportunity to begin establishing your professional reputation. Make sure you think about how you want to be viewed as an employee.
10 Tips that demonstrate professionalism:
- Dress for Success. Most organizations have a dress code. Be sure to dress and groom appropriately for your place of work. Remember, first impressions are extremely important.
- Always be on time. Being early is even better. Punctuality is important!
- Avoid missing work. If you are sick, always contact your supervisor if you are unable to be at work. If you are aware of a potential scheduling conflict, be sure to communicate with your supervisor as far in advance as possible.
- Good communication skills include both written and verbal skills. Use language that is appropriate for your place of work. This also applies to internal e-mails. Be sure to proofread every e-mail you send out.
- Be respectful when conversing with supervisors and coworkers. Try to establish good relationships to grow your network.
- Take time to observe the atmosphere. Take notice of the unwritten rules of the organization. Be respectful of office culture and property. Never take it upon yourself to "borrow" office supplies. What belongs in the office stays in the office!
- If your internship site becomes demanding, speak with your supervisor. Just as it is important for you to be a great intern, it is also important that you are learning from your internship experience.
- Keep your personal matters at home. Overlap is common, but try to create and maintain certain boundaries between your work and social life.
- Start your day with a positive attitude. Be sure to make your day productive and strive to do your very best.
- Make great use of your time. Ask questions. Be an interested and active learner, as this is the essence of a good work ethic!