For the next part in my series on getting the internship of your dreams, we’re going to talk about interviews.
In case you missed the other articles in this series, learn how to clean up your internet identity, how to put together a killer cover letter and resume, and finally, find out where to look for fashion-related internships!
Now that you’re caught up, I’m going to show you how to nail an interivew. Interviews are a crucial part of scoring an internship. Sure, you can sound incredible on a piece of paper and in your resume, but your appearance, attitude, and ability to answer questions face-to-face (or over the phone in many cases) can become the deciding factor in whether or not you get the internship of your dreams.
From the way you express yourself verbally to what you wear, we have tips on how to make yourself the #1 candidate after an interview.
Tips for In-Person Interviews
Do your homework.
If you want to work for the company, it makes sense for you to know a little about their history. You don’t need to remember dates or how many employees they have, but it’s always nice to know a company’s reputation. Even if you didn’t know the company before you got the interview, you can always find information on Google that will impress the potential employer you meet with.
First impressions are everything.
A first-round interview is your chance to blow the person interviewing you away. I know it’s nerve racking, so do something calming before you enter the interview room in order to keep cool, such as having a cup of tea with your breakfast or taking a few deep breaths. It’ll do wonders.
Answer some practice questions.
There’s no set list of questions that an employer will ask when they interview you, but there are some generic questions you may want to look over before you step into an interview. (Unless, of course, you’re interviewing with Google!) Answering these questions in the privacy of your own home or with a friend will help you build confidence as well as prepare you for some of the more basic questions you may have to answer at your interview.
Remember: always try to turn weaknesses into strengths. For instance, if your loved ones tease you for being compulsively clean, spin it and tell your employer you can’t help but be organized at all times!
Smile and be personable!
This is so important in my opinion. Smiling makes you seem excited about the opportunity, engaged, and likable. Also, remember the person’s name who is interviewing you, then repeat it later in the conversation (if you get an opportunity). Repeating someone’s name shows that you are paying attention, which immediately makes them feel like you are interested in them. Mention their name, whether it’s when you are thanking them for their time or just answering any other question.
You may also want to try and pick up on cues from the environment around you. If you see something specific in the room/office, such as several pictures of a pet, you may want to connect to the interviewer and mention your own pet! Once again, this shows your interest in the interviewer, which will be perceived as interest in the job/company and the people working for them.
Make eye contact.
It’s very important to focus on the person you’re interviewing with. You don’t want your eyes wandering while in the midst of conversation; it comes off as rude and makes you seem disinterested.
Bring samples of your work.
If you are applying for an internship in design, photography, writing, graphic design, etc., you should definitely have samples of all of your work readily available to show the interviewer.
Tips for Telephone Interviews
If you live in a different state than where the internship you’re applying is, you may have no choice but to do a phone interview. Sometimes, phone interviews are easier for people to do since it doesn’t require a special outfit and there’s no one staring directly at you to make you nervous or feel pressured.
It’s also possible to have a “cheat sheet” during a phone interview, which can take the pressure off. You can have a list of notes out while you’re on the phone so you can remember things you definitely want to mention.
When you’re doing a phone interview, make sure you are prepared:
- Be in a silent room by yourself. Do not use this time to chew gum, food, smoke, or drink.
- Make sure you are using a phone with a good connection. If you have a phone that is actually connected to a phone line, that’s probably your best bet, but cell phones are fine – just make sure you’re in an area with good reception.
- Keep your resume nearby so that you can refer back to it if necessary.
- Keep a pen and paper with you in order to take notes about the position. Your potential employer may mention details about the job that were not listed in the ad for it, and you will definitely need this information, especially if you are asked back for a second interview or asked to take the job.
- Consider dressing up for your phone interview as you would an in-person interview. It can actually make you sound more professional over the phone.
- Smile during a phone interview, too! You want to sound happy and excited about the possibility of working for this company, and smiling will help you portray that even on a phone interview.
General Interview Tips
Here are some more basic tips to help you ace your interview and land the internship.
- Always say thank you at the end of the interview and shake the interviewer’s hand.
- You should always follow up with a thank you note or e-mail. Make sure you take the interviewer’s business card on your way out so that you have their direct contact information.
- Look and feel put-together. Don’t wear your most uncomfortable shoes or skirt in order to look nice. You want to wear something that you would probably wear to work, so think about this: would you want to be running for coffee or sitting at a desk all day long in the outfit you put on? Plus, if you’re uncomfortable, you may not be able to hide it.
- Tip: If you aren’t comfortable wearing heels, wear a pair of ballet flats or flip flops, then carry the heels in your bag. Before you go into the interview, swap the comfy shoes for the heels!
Next week, I will show you what to wear to an interview for an internship in the fashion industry. Since so many of you want to work in fashion, but maybe aren’t sure what to wear for that all-important interview, I’ll help you out with some sample outfits and tips. Make sure to check back next Tuesday!
What do you think?
Do you have any tips that have helped you during interviews? Did you learn anything new? Do you have an interview coming up where you can apply these skills? Let us know in a comment!