High five, your application was reviewed, they loved your resume and you got the interview! That is a big win, but it doesn’t mean you’re done yet. You need to show up like a pro at your interview to increase your chances of landing the internship. Don’t have much interview experience? No worries, you just need my internship interview tips!
Throughout my career, I’ve interviewed a ton of people (interns included). I’ve had people make me want to fall asleep/stand up and walk out/ask for the last 30 minutes of my life back. Don’t be one of those people. You made it this far because they saw something on your resume or application that they liked. Now is your time to really shine. I’ve rounded up some top internship interview tips to keep you in the game and give you the best shot at landing the internship.
Here are my big five…slash more like big ten because I squeezed some extra tips in there for ya.
1. Arrive early (but not too early)
It is super important that you are punctual for your interview — and that includes being ~10 minutes early to check in at the front desk, use the bathroom, etc. However, please do everyone a favor and don’t show up more than 15 minutes early. If you do get there too early, hang out outside if you have to. Don’t put the burden on the employer to rush or feel the need to entertain you before they are ready to meet with you.
2. Take first impressions seriously
I’m talking about what you wear and the confidence you carry yourself with. Dress to impress. I don’t care if you are headed into a startup tech company’s office that wears hoodies all day, everyday. You don’t. You are there for an interview, and you should be dressed like a business professional.
And if there is only one thing you remember from these interview tips, please let it be the importance of a solid handshake. For gosh sakes, have some pride, stand up when you greet someone and shake their hand like you mean it. Call it a pet peeve of mine, but I have a really hard time taking someone seriously throughout their interview if they give me a princess handshake.
3. Be prepared
First, be prepared with a few copies of your resume, cover letter and references on hand. Pro Tip: Make sure they are the versions you created for this specific opportunity. (Not kidding, I’ve been given cover letters directed to other companies before. Don’t be that person.) The interview is also a great opportunity to hand over one of your awesome student business cards.
Second, look up common interview questions and practice, practice, practice your answers. Know what you want to say so that it comes naturally and you don’t fill awkward silence with a lot of um, uh, like, you know.
Third, do your research. Research the company and the people you are going to be meeting with. People like to talk about themselves. If you can demonstrate you’ve done your research on them throughout your interview, you’ll get bonus points. And always have questions to ask them. Never, ever say “No, I’m good!” when they ask you “So, do you have any questions for me?”.
4. Close the loop
So you made it to the end of the interview…great! However, don’t miss your opportunities to ensure follow-up success. It is more than OK to ask what next steps are and when you can expect to hear back from them, so be sure to get that in as your final question.
Ask for business cards from each person you meet with. If you give them your card up front, they are likely to pass one of their cards back in return. At the very least, get their email address so you can follow up and connect with them in the future.
Always send a handwritten thank you note. People get so many emails these days. The physical note in the mail goes a long way. Pro Tip: Write the thank you and drop it in the mail the day of your interview so they don’t go too long without hearing from you. Personalize a thank you note for each person you meet with, mention some of the highlights/takeaways from your conversation with them and reaffirm your interest in the internship.
5. Reflect and refine
No matter how prepared you were for the interview, chances are you didn’t handle everything perfectly. Give yourself the gift of honest, immediate feedback. Within the first hour after your interview, pull out your phone and type up some notes on how you think things went. What went well? How can you improve for your next interview? What is a question that stumped you that you need to develop a better answer for in the future? Commit to capturing your thoughts before you forget and have to start from scratch again for the next interview.
Now go put these internship interview tips to use. Good luck at your interviews! Make me proud.