Job and Internship Interviews: How to Prepare and Avoid Common Mistakes

You submitted your resume, completed the application and got an interview. Congratulations! Now the real fun begins.

Here are five ways to prepare for a great interview.

  1. Know the company and the position. Review the position posting and any documents sent by the interviewer. Then go a step further and check out the company’s website and social media presence. Take time to review (and understand) their company history, mission statement, policy priorities, prominent partners and most successful projects.
  2. Know your skills. Make it easy on the interviewer and explain exactly why your skills and experience make you the best fit for the position. Knowing the position and company will allow you to tailor your skills. Use examples from your professional, leadership, academic and volunteer experience. Don’t be afraid to get specific and reference successful projects or outcomes. Be prepared to handle tough questions on gaps in your resume, a low GPA or skills you don’t have. Be confident and concise but don’t ever lie.
  3. interview-successKnow the interview details. Is the interview in person or over the phone? What time is it and in what time zone? Where is the interview, what building and what room? Do you have to go through security to get to the interview? Will the interviewer be calling you? Or will you be calling them? Do you need to dial a direct line or use a conference login? It never hurts to confirm these details with the interviewer. It shows you’re planning ahead and ensures you make the meeting.
  4. Arrive 5 minutes before the interview. Arriving too early can be a hassle for the interviewer but arriving late reflects poorly on you as a candidate. Map the route to the interview the night before and account for traffic and weather delays. If it’s a phone interview get to a quiet place with good phone service before the scheduled time. If at all possible, take the call on a land-line phone.
  5. Prepare questions. The interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. This is a great time to show you’ve done your research. Make a list of questions relevant to the job, department and organization. Then when the appropriate time comes (hint: when they ask if you have any questions) select a few from your list. “How would you describe a typical day in this position,” “what are the most challenging aspects of the job,” and “what is the most important quality you’re looking for in a candidate,” are great sample questions.

Being prepared for an interview alleviates stress and allows you to perform your best. Good luck and happy interviewing!


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