After weeks of efforts of looking for the right internship opportunity, applying to it and following up, you finally get an email from the employer showing interest in your application and wanting to have a ‘chat’. You feel elated at first but then anxiety over the next step – an interview – begins to overtake! What would the recruiter ask, what are the model answer to some of the standard questions, would it be a technical or an HR interview or a stress interview, what if I fail?
While it’s natural and even good to feel a little nervous, it’s absolutely unnecessary to feel hyper and lose sleep over it. It’s easier said than done – I myself dreaded interviews until I started interviewing candidates myself and the tips below are basis my (limited) experience of being on both the sides of the table. These are not absolute truths but may prove helpful in most of the situations. More importantly, think of internship interview as a perfect learning platform for your final placement interviews – even if you don’t ace this one, you are so much better prepared for the next one!
1. Interview is a conversation and not a test: – More often than not, it’s the fear of failure that results in a poor interview because we think of interview as a test where we have to prove ourselves. In reality it is and it should be a conversation. Yes, the recruiter would like to assess your capabilities and fit for the role but it’s a golden opportunity for you also to find out more about the company, the work-culture and the exact nature of assignment. Remember, a company is as desperate for a good candidate as a good candidate may be for that role.
2. If the interview is a telephonic one and the call comes unscheduled and you are not prepared or are not in a quiet place where you can have a half decent conversation , it’s OK to request for a rescheduling of the conversation – even better, ask if you could call back the person on the number
3. “Tell me about yourself” is about YOU – don’t start with your family background, brothers and sisters, town history etc. Try to paint a vivid picture of who you are, what you do and how the skills and experience that you have may be relevant for the role
4. If asked to describe one particular project/assignment in detail, start with the overall objective of the project, the challenges involved, the outcome and most importantly your contribution in the whole process. If you have numbers to support the conversation, even better. For example, to say that a particular project in area of “smart lighting” reduced power consumption by 20% is so much more powerful than saying that the project was appreciated by everyone. Always try to link the learnings from the project to the internship ahead. These could be soft skills or technical skills – point is that you have a life experience that would help you do better in the internship if given a chance
5. Avoid giving global answers to questions on why do you want to take up that particular internship – if you have done your research well about the company and the internship before applying, I am sure there are good reasons that you can list. Be specific and be relevant.
6. Please feel free to ask if you have ANY questions about the internship or the company – as I said before it’s a two way conversation and not a one way test. Companies like candidates who are confident, curious and not afraid to ask a question. Moreover it further highlights your interest and keenness in the internship.
7. Never undersell yourself – when asked on expectation on stipend, most of the candidates fumble giving answers such as they would be happy to work for any stipend that the company may decide to pay while reality may be otherwise. If you have a (realistic) figure in mind below which you would not be comfortable taking up that project, please let the recruiter know. Otherwise you could leave the conversation open ended with indicating a broad range of stipend that you have seen around you and expressing your willingness to be flexible with-in the range.
As I said these are not absolute truths and do not cover all possible questions/scenarios that one may face during an interview process. Have something to say, ask, or critique – post it right away. Irrespective, the key is to think of an internship interview as a conversation between two sensible and mature persons and not as a test.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication