As a college student, participating in an internship will go a long way towards preparing you for the workplace. Some students find entry level positions directly through their internships. Others use their internship to gain knowledge and experience that they can leverage as they look for positions at other companies.
Once you apply for an internship, the next step is often to participate in an interview. This is an opportunity for the company to learn more about you, and for you to learn more about the company and the internship. So, how do you make sure you ace your internship interview and land that position? Here are a few key tips.
1. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication.
Your nonverbal communication and body language says more about you than you might realize. When you meet your interviewer, give them a firm handshake. Look them in the eyes, and maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Pay attention to your posture, too. Sitting with your chin up and your shoulders back makes you appear confident, which will give your interviewer confidence in you.
2. Give examples when answering questions.
The interviewer may ask you how you collaborate with others, how you stay organized, or how you tackle difficult projects. When answering this type of question, always try to include an example. In a college internship interview, it is normal and expected to pull examples from class projects you worked on, extracurricular activities, or volunteer activities. Giving an example helps show the interviewer how you use certain skills, rather than just telling them.
3. Emphasize transferrable skills.
When interviewing for a college internship, you don’t always have a lot of skills related directly to the position. This is understandable since the internship will likely be your first opportunity to develop these job-specific skills. What you should have, however, are transferrable skills. These skills are those that can be used in a wide range of positions and situations. Communicating clearly, problem solving, and organizing teams are examples of transferrable skills. Speak extensively about these skills when asked questions about your skillset, what you can bring to the company, and so forth.
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4. Ask clarifying questions, if needed.
If an interviewer asks you a question and you are not quite sure that they mean or what kind of answer they want, ask a clarifying question or two. This accomplishes two things. First, it ensures you provide the type of answer the interviewer is looking for. Second, it shows the interviewer that you want to understand and are not afraid to ask questions to deepen your understanding.
5. Emphasize improvement when asked about your weaknesses.
Interviewers will almost always ask you about your weaknesses. You can answer this question honestly. However, it is important to then include some details about steps you’ve taken to address you weaknesses. This shows that you’re aware of your shortcomings and are working to improve them, which is something interviewers want to see in an intern.
6. Prepare questions in advance.
Remember, this interview is your chance to ask questions, too. Prepare a few in advance so you’re not caught off-guard when asked if you have any questions. Good questions to ask include:
- What is the company culture like?
- Do interns directly participate in the company’s projects?
- What skills have successful past interns had?
If you keep the tips above in mind, you should have no trouble acing an interview for your first college internship. If you practice a few times with a friend, you’ll grow more confident. By the time you arrive at the actual interview, you’ll feel relaxed and well prepared.