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How to Nail Your Summer Internship Interview

March 06, 2015

How to Nail Your Summer Internship Interview

Landing a summer internship can give you the real-world experience that may ultimately lead to your dream job. But does thinking about the interview tie your stomach into knots? Chill. Here are some tips to help you nail it. The key — make sure you’re prepared.

Clean up Your Online Presence

Your social media profile is an extension of your resume. And yes, love it or hate it, recruiters and hiring managers do use social media to screen job candidates. Make sure you have a professional presence wherever you are on the Web. Be careful about the type of content you post and the pages you like. Everything you put on the Internet is a direct reflection of you.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

Take a look at the attributes listed in the job requirements and show in your resume how you display those traits. Cater your resume to show that what you have done can add value to their organization.

Research the Companies

So you’ve spent a few minutes looking at the companies' website and think you’re done, right? Wrong! This is a common mistake students tend to make.  Don't scan their information. Learn everything you can about each company. Study up on:

  • Their industries and the challenges and opportunities

  • The interviewers (where they went to college, how long at the company, work background, interests)

  • Their products and services

  • Their competitors (who are the major players, what are they known for, how are they doing in the stock market, what kind of people work there, etc.).

  • Use their products or services, if possible, or talk to people who do.

  • Their corporate culture. If you don't feel that you can fit in and enjoy it, you might want to rethink even interviewing.

Make Up Your List of Questions

You've done all that research - this is the reason why. The biggest mistake you can make is not asking your own questions. Smart questions. Questions that show you're interested in the company and their products or services. Questions that reveal you've done your homework. e.g.

  • What's the company's biggest barrier to success?

  • What are this department's goals for this year?

  • How does this department's goal support the division / company's goals?

  • Why do customers value your brand?

  • What do you expect the person in this internship to accomplish that will support the department's goals?

DO NOT ask questions that show you're only interested in what's in it for you, e.g. work hours, salary, benefits, promotions, getting hired permanently, etc.

Practice Answering Questions

Make up a list of questions you may be asked and be ready with an answer. Questions such as:

  • Why do you want to work at this company?

  • What makes you stand out?

  • When was a time that you had a difficult team member, and how did you deal with it?

Practice answering your questions with friends, classmates, or your professors.

Prepare an Elevator Speech

Put together a short statement (no more than 15 seconds) that sets you apart and why you'd be the best fit for this internship. Be ready to give this little speech at a moment's notice.

Don’t Forget the Basics

  • Dress nicely. Confirm the dress code before you head out to the interview and dress accordingly.

  • Arrive 15 minutes early. It’s completely unacceptable to be late for an interview. Show your potential employer that you pay attention to detail and have respect for their time.

  • Take good notes during the interview. This shows you're paying attention. Circle 2-3 questions on your list that would be good to ask.

  • Follow-up. Send an email ASAP thanking the interviewer for his/her time and consideration. Share with the interviewer something new you learned during the process and restate your desire to join his/her team.

Susan's Summer Internship Planning

Susan really wants to land a summer legal internship. To make preparing easier, she searched for a software tool to help her get ready.  She decided to use Samepage because she could do everything she needed from one online location. Best of all it fit her budget — it’s free!

Susan created a main page with sections for the list of companies she’s researching, her tailored resumes, recruiters' and interviewers' contact info. She's got a task list to stay on track. She also set up a section with links to helpful internship sites so she could quickly find them for advice. She's already creating her own questions to ask at interviews.

She found some great information online when she researched the companies and is uploading different files from them to help her prepare.

She started her list of interview questions to practice with her professor, which  he can access and add more or make comments. Susan's feeling calmer and is ready to battle it out to get the summer internship of her dreams.

Check out how Samepage can help.