How to Prepare for and Rock Your Internship Interview

Applying for an internship can be a stressful process. Many college students have trouble with their internship interviews because it may be the first time they’ve ever had a professional interview. But fear not, for you can ace your first interview with help from these important tips.



Know your appearance:

Always dress slightly above the dress code for the job. If you’re unsure of the dress code, it’s always better to overdress than to underdress. Make a good first impression by sitting up straight, giving a firm handshake and speaking clearly. Also be polite: this may sound obvious, but a simple “thank you” at the end of an interview can make a huge difference.

Be prepared:

Always arrive early to an interview so that you have time to find parking and relax before you walk in. Bring an extra copy of your resume and know it well. Do a little research about the company you’re interviewing with so that you know what the atmosphere is like and what the general expectations are. You may not know every question they’re going to ask you ahead of time, but prepare yourself by running through your answers to common questions, such as “Why do you want to work here?” or “Tell us about yourself.”


Be confident:

Because you might not be prepared for every question, make sure you sound confident. Maintain eye contact and try to remember why you’re here. Before the interview, make a list of possible characteristics or qualifications for the job. Then, if you get stuck on a a question, you can ground your answer in one of these traits. For example, if you know the job requires you to pick up the skills quickly, you could work into your answer that you’re a quick-learner. It’s important to keep in mind that employers are not trying to scare you with weird questions; they just want to see how you react under pressure. Don’t let them get to you!

Use your experience:

Whenever you can, try to tie in your school, work or extra-curricular experience into the conversation. Work experience is usually the most important to an employer, but boost your qualifications by mentioning your leadership or people skills in the classroom or in clubs. This is especially relevant for interviewees who did not have a job before applying for the internship. Even mentioning your interests or hobbies could convince your interviewer that you would be a great addition to the office community.


Ask questions and clarify:

At any point during the interview, feel free to clarify a question if you feel confused. Rephrasing the interviewer’s question both refines what they’re trying to say, and gives you time to think. It’s always better to ask if you are on the same page before giving an answer that has nothing to do with the question that they were actually asking. At the end of the interview, many employers will ask if you have any questions: ask one or two! Asking questions shows your interest in the position and the community that you’re trying to be a part of.

There are dozens of other resources online, including Hamline’s Career Development Center (CDC) website. In addition to their online information, the CDC offers mock-interviews to practice your skills.