Photo by Allie Duda
Your palms might sweat, you might think you’re going to screw up, and the worst part…you don’t know what to wear. Does this sound all too familiar? Department, job, and internship interviews can be intimidating, but they are an inevitable part of collegiette life! With summer internships right around the corner, you’re probably getting geared up (or psyching yourself out) for upcoming interviews. If you keep calm, prepare yourself thoroughly, and remember these pointers, you’ll be sure to impress your interviewer:
Research as much as you can about the position and the company. Find out information about the organization ahead of time so you feel confident about what you’re getting yourself into. Evaluate your own knowledge, skills and abilities and think about how you qualify for the job. Learn what kind of jargon they use and throw some terms in there to really wow the interviewer!
Interviews have a multitude of styles! Some interviewers simply ask questions from a list, some use a conversational style, and others may just ask open-ended questions that you’ll have to think quickly on your feet for. Your interview may be in an office setting, or may perhaps be over the phone. Regardless, it is important to think about possible questions you will be asked. Have a professor, advisor, or friend do a mini mock interview with you to get comfortable answering questions! List out your skills, talents and experiences ahead of time that directly apply to this opportunity, as well as any hobbies that relate to it, so you can tell the interviewer about what you can do.
As far as what to wear, the key for interview attire is professionalism. Don’t drastically get a new haircut or style, but do get a light trim about a week before your interview. Makeup and jewelry, if worn, should be moderate. Dress conservatively and comfortably, about one level above what you would wear to work. Being clean and neat is essential. No cleavage, mini-skirts, denim, or rainbow eye shadow! Plan ahead so that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute about what to wear, and have a backup outfit ready just in case. A knee-length pencil skirt and a blouse or a nice tailored women’s suit are good options if you’re stuck. Don’t think you have to go out and buy a $200 outfit just for the interview; you can find nice hand-me-down professional clothing at thrift stores!
If there’s any career prep courses offered at your school or within your major that address things like interviews and resumes, take advantage of it and sign up! If not, practice speaking in front of a mirror, or record yourself on an audio or videotape. Watch for nervous gestures and eliminate any slang or other inappropriate language. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or have others evaluate your answers and presentation. Also, don’t forget to practice a firm handshake using eye contact- employers love it!