Internship Interview Preparation

The interview is not the time to THINK about what to say. The interview is the time to focus on PRESENTING the information that you have prepared. Do your thinking and planning before the interview.

Scheduling an interview

When you are called to schedule an interview for an internship, ask questions to assist you in preparing effectively. Below are a few questions you could ask:

  • Could you please give me an indication as to the amount of time I should expect to spend at your organization?
  • Who will I be interviewing with?
  • Will I be interviewing with each person separately or as a group?
  • What are the names and titles of each person I will be meeting?
  • In what capacity would I be interacting with each of these people during this internship?
  • Is there an organizational chart I could review prior to the interview?
  • While I have the description of the position from (or wherever you learned of the position), is there any additional information on file about the internship, the performance criteria and the organization that I could request for review in preparation for the interview?

These questions allow you to get a better picture of what to expect during the interview.

Interview preparation tips

  • If you know that three people will be interviewing you, you know to bring multiple copies of your resume and to prepare a larger set of questions to ask the interviewers.
  • If you know who is interviewing you, you will be more likely to deduce what types of questions they will be asking you. Based on this information, you can plan accordingly.

Being prepared will help you engage the interviewers and build their feelings of confidence in you.

Feel good about you--it’s contagious!

The most important element of preparation is for you to feel good about yourself. If you are enjoying the interview, then you are more likely to make interviewers feel the same way. You can create an atmosphere that offers an opportunity to exchange ideas.

Smiles and laughter are a universal language. They are contagious. More often than not interviewees are so serious that they do not smile at all.

Feeling good about yourself and being prepared for what you are going to say are two important steps in acing the interview. A third important element is recognizing that people like people who are like them.

People like people who are like them

There have been many surveys conducted to assess the attributes hiring managers desire most in candidates. The survey results discovered that the most important elements were the intangibles, the feelings the interviewer had about the candidates. So it’s a great idea to be prepared to emphasize commonalities.

People gravitate towards people they have things in common with and who share similarities, ideas and interests.

Understanding this can help you to perform well in an interview. Prepare ways to demonstrate that your experience is of interest to a particular company. This approach to interviewing helps underscore similarities.

Personal attributes can be experienced through your interaction with interviewers, not just by what you actually say. When you are prepared, you can spend your time during the interview creating an environment where interviewers observe your confidence. If you do this, you will naturally exhibit more energy, enthusiasm and a better communication style. Review the following list of the most desired attributes.

Personal and professional attributes

Personal Professional
Drive Reliability
Motivation Honesty / Integrity
Energy Pride
Confidence Dedication
Determination Listening Ability
Communication Responsibility

Ace the interview

Prepare for the interview as you would prepare for an exam. If you study the material that may be on the exam in advance, you feel confident about your ability to ace the test. As a result, there is less anxiety associated with it because you know you will do well. The opposite is also true. If you are not prepared, anxiety is produced and it is even harder to concentrate during your internship interview.

You can ace the interview by understanding and incorporating these three suggestions:

  1. Stimulate interviewers to share their perspective on their career progression, on the internship position, company and professional interests.
  2. Prepare in advance by practicing out loud how you will respond to various questions about your resume, background and interest in the internship so that you can feel more confident.
  3. Demonstrate that your personal qualities fit the internship position by speaking about how your experiences (school projects and courses, work, volunteering, etc) match up against the internship description.

Dressing for success

While most people understand the necessity of dressing well for an interview, there is confusion on how to dress when the company follows a business casual dress code. To clarify this confusion, always err on the side of being conservative. The company may be business casual, but you are not part of the company and until you are, apply the rules of interview attire and dress conservatively and more formally. The only exception is when a company representative specifically asks you to dress business casual.

Dressing conservative and formal is important. If you look successful, people perceive you that way. Here’s some advice for dressing appropriately for the interview:

Men's attire for interviewing:

  • If you have one, wear a suit or sport coat
  • Wear your best shoes
  • Wear a white long-sleeved shirt
  • Do not wear heavy cologne; no cologne is preferred
  • Do not wear pinky rings, necklaces or bracelets
  • Wear hair and facial hair well-groomed
  • Make sure hands and nails are clean

Women's attire for interviewing:

  • Wear professional dress shoes
  • Wear a conservative blouse and pants or skirt
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum
  • Have well-groomed hair
  • Wear light makeup
  • Do not wear heavy perfume - no perfume is preferred
  • Make sure hands and nails are clean