My name is Jackie Graham and I’m currently a senior integrated marketing communications student preparing to graduate and obtain a job. I recently interned at Stanford Home Center, a local store from my hometown, and I am excited to be the current Mindful Kreative intern! I strategically searched for internships because I wanted to gain experience in more than one facet of communications. Giving yourself the opportunity to tailor your resume makes it more appealing to future employers. After all, isn’t that what getting an internship is all about?
I cannot put enough stress behind the importance of building your resume and networking. Finding internships that you are interested in and going through the application process can be very tedious. However, according to the May 2017 Journal of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 60% of surveyed employers admitted they would be more inclined to hire a candidate for a full-time position if he/she had internship experience.
In order to secure your internship, you must first nail your interview. Here are a few tips to help that I’ve learned along the way:
1. Research the Company
Your interviewer doesn’t want to spend the whole interview explaining the company, so be sure to set aside time before the interview to do a proper amount of research. Being well prepared shows the company that you are serious and interested in their I always make sure to familiarize myself with the “About Us” section. Make sure you know what the company is all about. Also, check out the employee list. When you go into your interview, you may recognize someone from the website and feel more comfortable. If you are familiar with the company’s website, you’ll be able to relate yourself to the brand and make yourself more of an appealing candidate.
2. Review Common Internship Questions
Alleviate some of your nerves by looking over common interview questions. Remember, you aren’t an expert in your field yet and your interviewers understand that. Reviewing questions and your own past experiences will help you mentally formulate answers and organize your thoughts.
3. Gather Your Portfolio Pieces
Take extra time to collect all your materials for your portfolio. Make sure all your edits are up-to-date and organized. Also, bring extra copies of your resume to hand out in case your interviewers don’t have a hard copy.
4. Dress to Impress
Pull together your best outfit. First impressions are important because they help build a foundation to new relationships. In many cases, first impressions are made within the first thirty seconds of meeting someone. You want to dress appropriately for the interview; it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. I always dress business professional on my first interview. Make sure to take the time to iron your clothes the night before the interview and have your accessories and shoes ready as well. Ladies, I have found it best to stick to natural tones of makeup. Gentlemen, take the time to shave and look your best.
5. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Although it is important to prep for interviews, it’s also important to rest up the night before. A full night of sleep will prevent you from feeling groggy the next day. Being well rested ensures that you are alert during your interview and allows you to present the best version of yourself. Along with a good night’s rest, make sure to eat a light, nutritious breakfast. Getting a bite to eat in the morning will help you wake up and prevent your stomach from growling mid-interview. You want your focus to be on the interview, not on what you are going to eat for lunch! Likewise, for interviews later in the day, get a good night’s rest and maintain a focus up until your scheduled time. Don’t get too anxious waiting for your interview. If you have prior free time, drink a cup of coffee with your breakfast to wake you up then switch to water. Water will help you feel aware and fresh. Also, don’t forget to brush your teeth right before leaving your house.
6. Make an Outstanding First Impression
Dressing appropriately is only one part of making an excellent first impression. Show up to your interview between ten and fifteen minutes early. Stay conscious of your posture. Walk in and make sure you smile when you make initial eye contact. Next, offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself. Show your interviewer you are excited to have the chance to meet.
7. Keep a Powerful Presence
Personality is key to a memorable interview. Don’t be shy; let your personality shine. Your qualifications got you the interview; your personality is what will get you the job. Try to maintain your energy throughout the entire interview and don’t let your nerves get the best of you.
Everyone gets nervous. It’s okay to be a little anxious. Remain confident in yourself and your nerves will eventually go away. Take a few breaths before going into your interview and take it one question at a time. Most interviews that I’ve experienced have guiding questions; fortunately, the majority of the interview is more conversational.
9. Ask Questions at the End
At the end of every interview, it’s the interviewee’s chance to ask questions. I always try to ask two or three questions before leaving. Asking questions is another way to show the employer you’ve done your research and genuinely have an interest in their company.
10. Follow Up
Two crucial times to follow up with the company are after you submit your resume and after your interview. I always make a point to call and touch base with the company after each to showcase my interest in the internship opportunity. Following up and reaching out to the company also provides a chance for your name to stand out. Companies appreciate the extra effort. Always ask for the interviewer’s business card at the end of the interview. It shows your intent to keep in touch.
Interviews are inevitable in the job search process and I believe it’s an imperative stepping-stone on your path to a long-term career. According to the NACE May 2017 Journal, 53% of employed graduates said that they were hired into their present position within a year of graduation with the aid from either their internship or the network they built; 90% also stated they were working in their desired field.
Remember to stay confident in yourself and that confidence will radiate and leave a lasting impression. I hope these 10 steps help you nail your internship interview!
– Jackie G.