From beginning to the follow up, what I’ve learned through the interview process.
Over the past couple of years, I have been involved in several interviews—on both sides of the table, and even on the phone as well. I have learned what to do and what not to do. Mistakes have been made by myself, and I have witnessed others make mistakes as well. Here is what I have learned so far:
Before you even land an internship, you must always show the employer that you are interested and reliable. This is most obvious in two cases: the time in which you apply, and how you respond to them contacting you regarding an interview. Never wait until the application deadline to apply—I have made that mistake and learned the hard way. Don’t apply the exact day the internship is posted, but definitely don’t wait until the final day of the posting. Following that, if an employer contacts you regarding an interview, be prompt in your response to their email. Addressing the employer with Mr. and Ms. can never hurt either.
For those who are interviewing with an employer over the phone, these can surprisingly be much more difficult than in person. During an in-person interview, you often get a read on when the interviewer is satisfied with your answer and ready to move on. This doesn’t happen on the phone. Therefore, answer the question, and when your thought is over, stop talking and wait for the interviewer’s response. Also, if you are one who doesn’t have a very exciting voice, make sure you don’t fall into the monotone voice during the interview. Always sound interested—standing up and walking around while talking can help.
Once landing the personal interview, people have often made the mistake of not being appropriately dressed. At this level of interviews, a suit with a white dress shirt and tie is usually always a safe call.
Before the interview begins, be sure to shake the hand of everyone who is interviewing you. Be prepared for the interview as well. A standard interview is going to be conducted by the employer stating “Tell me about a time when…,” usually regarding a time when you showcased your leadership, ability to deal with ambiguity, or other attributes relevant to the job you are applying to. Also, every employer ends the interview by saying “Do you have any questions for us?” Spend time researching the company and the position prior to the interview, and come up with 3 questions or so to show that you truly are interested in the position.
Finally, follow up every single interview with a “thank you” email sent to each person who interviewed you—I was offered a position and told that a key difference was that I was the only one who followed up with a “thank you” email.
If you have any questions or need to improve your interviewing skills, the Career Services office here at Wabash often runs Mock Interview sessions for students.