This blog was written by Lauren Nevidomsky, a Campus Ambassador from Binghamton University. She is studying Political Science and Global Management and would love to work in sports one day. Follow her on Twitter at @nevidomsky92.
At the end of spring semester, I had two of the most stressful weeks of my life. I went on five interviews for three different fall internships. It was long and time-consuming, and I couldn’t wait for them to be over. Yet, I was 3/3 on offers. Although I swear this is at least partially due to luck, here’s what I learned that could help you achieve the same interview success rate:
1. Proofread your Cover Letters – Although this seems like a given, make sure to proofread your Cover Letter BEFORE applying for an internship. I actually went on an interview with the Legal Aid Department, yet had written “Family Court” in one of the sentences on my cover letter. Fortunately, the Legal Aid Department where I was applying, works with the Family Court, so it happened to work in my favor. However, I may have not gotten an interview in the first place. Don’t take any chances -- proofreading will help you avoid mishaps like this.
2. Invest in at least 2 Business Professional Outfits – Making sure you are professionally dressed is integral to any interview. If you have a few interviews in a row at different companies, feel free to wear the same business professional outfit, as long as you have not dirtied or wrinkled it. Have a second outfit ready on hand for second interviews with the same company. A good place to look for professional, yet trendy clothes for both genders is Express. It’s my favorite!
3. Relax and Let your Personality Shine – I know this is hard especially when you are nervous. However, if you relax, you will perform 150 times better than you would have under stress. I always try to make my interviewers laugh or compliment them on something. Humor is great, just don’t do over do it. If you aren’t funny, try to engage in a light conversation to show that you are personable and care about getting to know the interviewers as much as you do about the internship opportunity.
4. Be Able to Explain “Why You?” – If you are offered an interview, the employer already knows that you are smart and qualified. But what the employer doesn’t know is what sets you apart from the other smart and qualified applicants that they are also interviewing. Go get a coffee, take 15-20 minutes to yourself, and just think. Everyone has something unique about them. It doesn’t have to be a special talent, such as knowing another language or being a star musician, but it can be as simple as your passion or drive in all your ambitions. Think of a story, and keep it in the back of your mind, and feel free to pull it out whenever you get the chance in an interview.
5. Don’t Just Spew Adjectives – Employers get it. You are responsible, creative, work well under pressure, work well with others, etc. But as the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” This goes along with Tip 4, as you need to have stories to back-up not only why you are the best applicant, but what you claim to be. What makes you responsible? Have you been a babysitter for 3 children? Have you been a Treasurer in one of your clubs? What makes you work well others? Are you the President of your Greek Organization and therefore must network with all your brothers and/or sisters? Think about these things BEFORE your interview so that you aren’t tongue-tied and can back up anything you claim to be.
6. Prepare Some Questions for your Interviewer – Never, and I repeat NEVER, say that you don’t have any questions to ask at the end of an interview. There is no possible way that researching the company, coupled with the questions that you were asked during your interview, made you an expert on the position or company. Ask questions to explore more about the company and the internship opportunity. One question my interviewers enjoyed being asked was “What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?” Simply Google some variation of “questions to ask during an interview,” memorize 5-10 questions and end up asking 2-3 of them. By asking questions at the end, you show that you really do care about the position, the company, and being the best applicant possible.
7. Thank You Notes are a Must – A few hours after your interview, remember to send a Thank You email to your interviewer thanking them for taking the time out of their busy day to meet with you. You can add how excited you are about the position and how you look forward to learning more about the interview process. Make it your own so that they see that you genuinely care. If you are interviewing with a big company (for a summer internship or full-time job), make sure to also follow up with a hand-written Thank You, as well. Yet, if you are interviewing for something that you are doing throughout the school year and are interviewing with local employers who will be making quick decisions, save your money and just send a Thank You email because you may hear back from them before your Thank You card even arrives at its destination.
So there you have it. If you follow these tips, you will definitely be able to turn your interviews into offers. The more interviews you go on, the more confident you will get. But with these 7 tips, you will soon be an interview STAR!