7 Steps to Ace Your Job or Internship Interview

With internship and job applications sent, soon collegiettes will hear back from organizations that were impressed by our qualifications. Interested in learning more about how well you’d fit into their company, potential employers often interview job candidates to connect a person to the pieces of paper—a résumé and cover letter—that helped you to initially stand out from the other applicants.

Interviews can seem scary; walking into an unfamiliar office to persuade a stranger to give you a job is no easy feat. But, even if public speaking gives you nightmares, Her Campus has the answers to ensure that collegiettes can stride confidently into any interview, equipped to demonstrate what an asset she would be to the organization.

Plan a professional outfit:

While it’s fun to try new trends, there’s a time and a place for everything. “Dress the part,” says Kayla Riley from the University of Maine. “This should go without saying, but you need to dress professionally to make a strong impression. Leave the miniskirt at home.”

Treat a job interview like dinner with a boyfriend’s ultra-conservative grandparents, no matter how casual the company is. Avoid bright nail polish, flashy jewelry and clothing that shows off any kind of cleavage: breasts, toes or butt. Pull your hair back or blow-dry it and wear it down and wear a simple outfit—try a black pencil skirt and a modest blouse with closed-toe shoes. It’ll not only impress your interviewer, but will also focus his or her attention on what you’re saying rather than judging your style. 

Research the company beforehand:

Simply reading the company’s website will help to give you a better understanding of what their mission is and what they’re hoping to accomplish. Although you may have already done this when you wrote a cover letter, refreshing your memory can’t hurt. “When researching a company my two stops are 1. The company website (specifically read over the MISSION STATEMENT, CLIENT LIST, and ABOUT US sections) 2. Google News (You want to be aware of any recent news breaks),” Lauren Berger, founder of Intern Queen says. 

If you or anyone you remotely know has the contact information for someone in the organization, get in touch with them. Ask questions that would help to master the interview, like what that company is looking for in its new hires.

Prepare questions for the company:

Towards the end of the interview, the job candidate will turn into the interviewer for a few minutes. Having specific questions to ask the interviewer, such as “What’s one thing you wish your interns knew before they started the job?” or “Why did you get involved in this company?” demonstrates you’ve spent the time to learn about the company and are sincerely interested in the job. Berger’s go-to question in interviews is, “Can you describe a typical day as an intern (or employee if it's a job interview) at your company?”

While you’re speaking, remember to let your personality shine. Even though the interview is formal, it’s still a conversation so don’t make the same rookie mistake Tufts University student Simmone did in her first interview. “I never looked up, at the end of the interview they told me point blank that I would not be getting the job because of failure to make eye contact and wished me luck for the future,” Simmone says.  Yikes.

Practice answers to basic interview questions:

It may be impossible to know exactly what the interviewer will ask, but you should be well-versed in talking about your strengths and weaknesses. “Speak slowly and clearly,” Kayla says. “When you're nervous it's common to rush through your sentences, but speaking calmly and coherently will show that you're confident.”

 Without stumbling over “um,” “like” and “uh,” your answers will sound more mature, professional and educated. As a result, convincing the interviewer you’d make a perfect fit for the job shouldn’t be as difficult. Additionally, rehearsing answers to questions like “What unique skills make you a good candidate for this job?” or “Why do you want this job?” will help to ease your nerves so you’re more confident entering the interview.

Bring your résumé:

Even though your employer already has a copy, neither of you has all of the details memorized. Before the interview, print the resume on thick paper—not as hefty as cardstock, but sturdier than printer paper—like these. With a document to refer to during the interview, there’s less to worry about remembering. Additionally, when the interviewer asks basic questions about your past work experience, you’ll have all the answers right in front of you!  Bring a copy for you and a copy for the interviewer—and an extra copy just in case!

Give yourself PLENTY of extra time to get there:

Google Map directions to the interview location well in advance so you know how to get there when the day comes. It’s imperative that you get to the interview on time; arriving at least 15 minutes early would be ideal.

The last thing you want to worry about is traffic, so make sure that you leave your house, apartment or dorm at least 30 minutes before the directions recommend. If you get to the interview way too early, there’s always the option to explore the area! Getting to the interview too late, though, is an automatic negative first impression and they might not even interview you.

After the interview, write the interviewer a hand-written note:

Follow up with your interviewer within a day after the interview. This easy step won’t take much time, but will help make sure you continue to stand out in his or her mind. “I like to get a hand-written thank you note on the employer's desk 2-3 business days after the interview,” Berger suggests. “Don't wait any longer.” 

Remember, though, that the interviewer is busy. Keep the note short; thank the person for their time and add an anecdote that demonstrates you paid attention during the interview. End the body of the note either with “I hope to hear back from you soon” or “When should I expect to hear back from you?” Either option shows the interviewer you’re still interested in the position.

 

Before you walk into the room, take a breath. The less nervous you are, the more confident you’ll sound!  Good luck collegiettes!