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How do I prepare for an interview?

You have done your research, perfected your resume and cover letter, and are dressed and groomed well. Now you are ready for the interview process.  There are many ways to better prepare yourself for an interview. Here are some tips. They are explained in detail in the Internship Workbook (pdf) .

Before the Interview:

  • Have someone with work experience conduct a mock interview with you. 
  • Review and prepare answers to the most commonly asked interview questions.
  • Anticipate how to incorporate life experiences into interview answers.
  • Familiarize yourself with different types of interview techniques.
  • Review your resume so you can easily recall important facts and accomplishments.
  • Buy a Padfolio (a folder with a writing pad in it), and bring two writing instruments.
  • Educate yourself about the organization.
  • Determine the exact location of the interview and estimate how long it will take to get there.
  • Clean and lay out clothes the night before the interview.
  • There is a good chance that you may become part of a group interview, so do not be surprised if there are multiple interviewers
  • There is also a good chance that you may be interviewed by more than one person during the day.  Maintain a positive attitude and try to keep your answers fresh, even if you have answered the question many times before. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

During the interview:

  • Remember to bring the Padfolio, your writing instruments and extra resumes.
  • Chew any mints and get rid of the gum!
  • Show up early for the interview, preferably 15 minutes or more. 
  • Remember to be yourself! 
  • Turn off your cell phone!  This includes turning off the vibrating option.
  • Be truthful and do not exaggerate.
  • Treat the first person and everyone else you meet with a smile, good humor, and dignity. 
  • Immediately stand when the interviewer meets you, and firmly shake his or her hand.
  • Wait to be seated until the interviewer sits down or until you are invited to sit.
  • If anyone else enters the room, stand up, and greet them.
  • Call people Mr./Mrs./Ms. until you are asked to do otherwise. 
  • Thank interviewers before the formal interview begins for their time and interest in you.
  • Watch your posture! 
  • During the interview, be proud of your educational background and do not apologize for coming from a small, private liberal arts college.  Instead, if asked about your education, stress that you have received an excellent foundation in your particular field of study and a well-rounded education as well.   Play to your strength that this combination has transformed you into a person who can handle a wide variety of assignments and that you are flexible in your thinking. 
  • Show enthusiasm
  • Try to stay focused, but do not stare a hole through their head!
  • Listen carefully, jot down a few notes if appropriate, and follow-up on a few points the interviewers may have focused on during the give and take of the interview.  Always be respectful, polite, and charming.
  • Use your research when appropriate
  • If all goes well, you may be asked to stay for lunch or dinner.  Please refer to the Internship Workbook for proper meal etiquette and, if nothing else—use your utensils! 
  • Near the end of the interview, use a few of the questions you have prepared in advance, without getting too personal. 
  • Near the end of your interview ask what the next stage of the process might be.
  • Be sure to shake their hands and to say thank you.
  • Exit with a smile, take a deep breath, and remember that the more you interview, the easier it gets.

After the interview:

  • Hand write a thank you note to everyone who interviewed you. 
  • If you are not contacted after 14 days, it is permissible to contact the potential internship sponsor. Most organizations move slowly, and it takes time to process you through the hierarchy, so be patient.
  • Wait one more week before trying again if the first “reminder” is not answered.  Be very positive, and indicate that you still desire the internship.  If you do not receive a reply, or are turned down, it is time to let go and pursue your other opportunities.


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