Important Tips to Landing an Internship: How to Outshine the Competition
You know you are unique. You know you are qualified. And, you also know you need an internship! But how can you set yourself apart from the thousands of other college students who are also applying for summer and fall internships? Below are some tips to help you as you prepare for interviewing.
The first thing I suggest students do is think about three things they want to make sure the interviewer knows about them before the interview concludes. These might be personal traits, or perhaps an accomplishment. This could be something like they ran a marathon. While not related to a professional internship, running demonstrates transferable skills like dedication, commitment, and perseverance—all qualities employers are looking for, and not something many candidates have probably ever done. Identifying in advance what you want the interviewer to know about you not only helps you feel more in control of the interview, it also allows you to showcase what makes you distinct from other candidates.
Know The Company, The Position, The Interviewers
This is something many students forget to do, but it is vital to outshining the competition. With what is widely available on the internet there is no reason why a student can’t find valuable information to demonstrate their knowledge of the company and industry. I strongly recommend students not only familiarize themselves with the organization’s website (mission, culture, clients), but also source news articles, both in favor and opposition of the company. Additionally, find reviews by employees or even potential interview questions on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Lastly, Linkedin is a great site to look up information about both the company and employees who have LI profiles. One recent candidate learned through LI that one of her interviewers enjoyed dancing as a hobby, so she made sure to mention that in her interview. That may just have been the thing that got her to the second round!
Practice, Practice, Practice
The research actually suggests a minimum of five mock interviews to sufficiently prepare a candidate. The STAR Interview Method is what we use in our mock interview sessions. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Skilled interviewers ask behavioral based questions which ask a candidate about past experiences to determine future performance. These types of questions generally begin with “Tell me about a time when,” or “Describe a time that you. . . .” The STAR Method helps students to brainstorm in advance the answers to these types of questions, while allowing them to provide succinct and specific examples that show tangible results. Using the marathon example, one could identify several behavioral based questions that the marathon could be an answer to, such as: “Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle?” “What would you say are some of your strengths?” Or “Describe a time when you had to manage your time well.” Once the questions are identified, writing out one’s STAR answers will help them shine like a star in the interview.
While many individuals are nervous before and during an interview, following these three tips will help one to feel more confident and prepared. You may not be the only star in the room, you just need to shine more brightly than the others; these tips will help you do just that!
Bonus tips: If interviewing over video, create a nice backdrop/background. If the video interview is recorded make sure to smile and respond enthusiastically. Watching monotone recorded videos is sure to put the reviewer to sleep, so display controlled enthusiasm.