How to present yourself during internship interviews

How to present yourself during internship interviews

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Internship interviews can be stressful and nerve-wracking, regardless of whether it’s your first one or one of many. Confidence is key, and the best way to be confident in an interview is to prepare well and understand what the interviewer wants to hear. Here at Intern Asia we’ve put together some tips on what to look out for, which types of questions to expect and what to bring to the interview.

First things first, what do recruiters look for when they are hiring interns? Although every company is different, you won’t get an interview without a strong and relevant resume, which is their first impression of you. Read our article on how to put together a CV and cover letter for internships to show the recruiter who you are, why you want the job, what you can offer the company and what you are capable of. 

Once they have read over your CV and have decided you could be a suitable candidate for the position, they will invite you for an interview. Make sure to always show up on time and dress appropriately. Be confident and natural, you don’t need to have professional experience to have a professional attitude. 

Interview preparation

To prepare for your interview, it is crucial to do your research on the company or organization. Read through their website to understand their history, what they stand for and what their goals are as a company. Check their social media to see if they have any current ongoing campaigns or to see if there is something that you can already bring up as an idea. Think about why you want to work in their industry and for them in particular (i.e. what makes them different to their competitors). Make sure you understand what their different departments do, and how they make a profit.

In addition, it’s worth checking newspapers and websites for mentions of them in the media, as well as making a note of any recent stories and developments in that particular industry. This will show that you’re interested, motivated and commercially aware.

Ensure that before you go to the interview, you know your CV back to front and can explain why each position and qualification listed on it makes you more qualified for the job. Communication skills are key, and you begin to define yourself from the moment you walk through the door. Express ideas and ask questions. This shows the recruiter that you are truly interested in the position, putting yourself to the task and in learning more. 

Interview questions 

The interview may begin with basic questions such as, “tell me about yourself” or “tell me something that isn’t on your resume”. Here, you can share any extra information about yourself, such as soft skills or extracurricular activities, which makes you stand out as an individual. Keep it professional— no one asked for your life story.

General work related questions could involve the topics of stress or time management, how you work with a team and what you will bring to the table. Always answer truthfully and give examples! Just as with your CV, it’s important that you show them through examples rather than simply tell them what you’ve done. Just like when creating your resume, there is no use in over selling yourself as a candidate as your employer will be relying on the skills you claim to have. Give relevant instances of past experiences in which you dealt with stress or teamwork to give the recruiter a better image of how you could deal with similar situations in the workplace in the future. Be honest, and always add what you would have done differently on reflection, and what you took away from the situation.

An important question to prepare for is “why are you interested in this position?”. Here, you can clearly state your educational background and why it has led you to this particular role, your motivation for applying and what your objectives are, both long and short term. Make sure that you make your answer relevant to that particular company or organization. You can do this by researching deeply into their work, recent news stories regarding the company, and understand the company’s mission and culture.

During the interview, remain calm. Show your motivation and passion for the sector as well as your interest in obtaining new skills and learning from those you will work with. Also, be prepared to know your strengths and weaknesses, as this is a question recruiters love to ask. Your strengths have the potential to make you stand out as a candidate amongst the others so refer to strengths that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Acknowledging your weaknesses is not a bad thing, on the contrary, it shows that you know what you lack and gives you the chance to show how you aim to improve, and demonstrates self awareness.

Expect and prepare for questions that are aimed to give you the opportunity to show your skill set relevant to the sector which you are applying to. For example, a company looking for a sales intern might ask you to sell an object to them. A marketing company will ask you to give them a marketing pitch for the company which you are applying to and an advertising company will ask you what your idea of a successful ad campaign entails. For positions which require more advanced knowledge on the subject, such as engineering or IT, be prepared to show your recruiter projects you have worked on in the past and how you aim to use the knowledge you have obtained in your new position, and what you have learned from past experiences. 

The question that recruiters always end with is “Do you have any questions for me?”. Show your engagement by asking questions such as “What do the daily tasks entail?” and “What are the current and future goals of the company?”. 

How to follow up

If you want to, follow up your interview by sending the recruiter an email, thanking them for the opportunity and their time, and providing contact details. Keep the email short and concise. Your follow up will further show your professionalism and interest in the position. 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of an interview. Getting an interview in the first place means that you’re probably good enough for the role, now it’s just your chance to prove that you are the best. Prepare your questions, research the company and be confident in yourself and your skills. 

Take the first step towards finding the internship of your dreams that could kick start your career here.


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