Yesterday, when I described the search for the perfect internship, I did not realize the amount of information I could spill onto the page of one blog post. So today, I present to you Part 2 of the series. I’ll make it brief and concentrate on the interview process and things to do before an interview.
If you have filled out several applications, sent endless amounts of e-mails, and written more cover letters than you can count on two hands, you’re probably in the state of waiting. Waiting for the e-mail response that says something along the lines of “When are you available for an interview?” E-mails will come in their own time, several will come in chunks where you find yourself with an interview one day and then another one the day after. However, some companies, from what I have learned, will also send a generic “we have received your application and are in the process of reviewing it” and then you never hear from them again. Or, some will also respond saying “we’ll look into it and ask for interviews at the end of the month” and then don’t respond for another month. Either way, the hope is that you will receive an e-mail asking for an interview.
So now it’s the night before your interview and you’re a bit nervous and scared. Here are a few things I do before an interview to prepare myself:
1. Have a warm beverage of some sort like decaf coffee or tea; yes, it has to be decaf because you do not want to stay up the night before a big interview stressing out about something
2. Research the company again and note key points
3. If you’re in the PR industry like I am, briefly go over AP/Chicago style and their most basic rules, just in case you’re asked
4. Make sure you have a nice portfolio folder of some sort to hold your resume and samples
5. Make sure you have printed out at least 3 copies of your resume to bring to the interview
6. Double check with the employer the day before (in the morning) about parking and if there’s any extra instruction you need to know about the building
7. Lastly, breathe, and get a good night’s sleep; no one wants to yawn during an interview
Now we move forward to the morning of the interview. I have done my fair share of “do nots” the morning of an interview. If the interview is not within walking distance, factor in about 30 extra minutes for traffic, trying to find parking, and anything else that could and might go wrong. Also, eat a good breakfast. Once, during an interview, my stomach started growling. The employer didn’t notice because she was in the middle of talking and it wasn’t too loud, but it made me less confident. Side note: I actually got the job during that interview, but seriously, no one wants a growling stomach at a professional setting.
Now you’re at the interview. Smile when you enter the building. If there is a tenant/desk clerk, greet them kindly and ask for the name of the person interviewing you. Wait patiently and don’t play around with your phone; better yet, turn off your phone. When you’re called into the actual interview, smile, have a strong and respectable handshake – don’t give them a pathetic excuse for one and shake their hand like they have a disease. Listen to the questions asked by the employer carefully and have a slight pause before you answer, so you have time to process the question, so there’s no word vomit – this is not Mean Girls, word vomit isn’t acceptable. At the end of every interview I have ever had, I have always been asked “Do you have any questions for us?” This is the part where research comes into play. Mention a project the company has done that you are interested in and ask questions about it; prove that you’re actually curious and interested in the company beyond the typical factors like resume building opportunity or a good wage. Some employers will ask about availability and hours for work around your student schedule. Tell them the honest truth; do not commit to 20 hours when you’re taking 20 hours of coursework – don’t be a hero, be reasonable.
After the interview there is always a moment of “oh my goodness.” and casually waiting. Go home. Login to your e-mail account and compose a new message. Send the main person(s) who interviewed you an e-mail thanking them for taking the time out of their day to interview you. Briefly mention again why you want the job and how you appreciate the opportunity. This is not you kissing up, so don’t ramble; this is you being polite and professional. Besides, thank you e-mails are like virtual warm and fuzzes.
Success! Now repeat these steps to your fitting for various other interviews. Note: I am not a professional, this is just what I personally do during interviews that have worked for me. Tweak it to your own liking; these rituals pre/post interviews do not apply to everyone, this is simply a template.