Congratulations on landing that interview for your internship! It’s the last hurdle that will make or break your employer’s decision to bring you on board the team. It’s important that you do not underestimate the interview process by thinking that recruiters expect less of you because the position you applied for is only for the short term. And hey, this is the right time for you to practice for the real working world, after all!
Let’s break down the run-up to the interview into a series of manageable chunks and actions, including some tips on how to ace common interview questions.
Preparing for your interview a few days before sets you up for a stress-free big day. It’s a good idea to curate a checklist of items that you’ll need for the internship, so here’s an example:
Clean Outfit and Appearance
First thing’s first, you need to look the part of an impressive candidate. Your interview is a chance to show how you would fit in, and this includes your appearance. Check with the recruiter about the dress code and start planning your wardrobe – some shopping might be needed.
Your clothes should be clean, fitted and pressed. Be sure to cover up any tattoos. If you smoke or drink a lot of coffee, make sure your teeth are stain-free. For males, it’s best to rock the clean-shaven look and make sure to keep your hair neat. For the ladies, keep your looks simple, this includes neutral nails, jewellery and make-up. You want your personality to stand out, not your accessories!
Bag, documents, a good night’s sleep
The night before, pick a suitable bag to store your documents, such as extra copies of your résumé, and make sure to organise everything for easy access.
Don’t forget to pack your daily necessities such as your wallet, water bottle, comb, snacks and some makeup for touch-up purposes. Double-check if your Touch N Go card has enough money in case you need to go through tolls on your way to the venue – nothing is worse than getting stuck there with insufficient funds!
We understand you might be nervous before the interview day, but try your best to get a good night’s sleep to ensure that you will be well-rested when the morning comes. You will want to be as sharp and alert as possible in the interview room.
Set up your alarm and check ETA on Waze/Google Maps
Wake up at least two hours before the interview, that way you will arrive there with time to spare. Also, you know how traffic generally has a way of working against you when you need to get somewhere in a hurry? This is not a good day to test that theory!
In case you take a wrong turn, can’t find the parking lot or get stuck in unexpected traffic, leaving your home early will (almost certainly) save you from being late from all these factors.
Remember that when it comes to interviews, arriving “on time” is the same as arriving late. Always arrive at least 15 minutes before your session starts, that way you have enough time to run through your interview notes and be mentally ready.
Common Internship Interview Questions
“Tell me about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?”
A typical warm-up question to get the engines rolling, but avoid getting too relaxed and give basic information that your recruiter already knows, such as your name and age. Your answer should sell your strengths and show your personality concerning the internship role offered. Here are four pointers:
- Your course of study and what you’ve learnt from it
- Your career aim or the career path you are interested in
- Your interest or passion
- Your reason for applying to the internship
“Why an internship with our company?”
The recruiter is trying to test your knowledge of the company; this is where your research efforts pay off. With sufficient knowledge, you should be able to connect the dots by aligning your work goals, style and personality to what the company stands for, or how you can relate to its business.
Think about the company’s areas of specialisation and how they relate to your career aims and interests. What are their vision and mission, and how do they relate to your values? Here are a few things you could do to know a company better:
- Read up on the company’s history, values and press releases
- Follow their social media accounts to get the latest news and activities
- Look up employees on LinkedIn and read their experiences; connect to chat if you want to know more.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
The objective is for your recruiter to learn more about your abilities and motivation to improve on your weaker qualities rather than judging your flaws. Think about the skills and experience you possess that are relevant to the company and role. Use examples from school projects, activities or student clubs to back up your strengths.
When talking about your weaknesses, don’t just state them and leave it at that. Instead, follow your statements by describing what you are doing to improve yourself. For instance, “I don’t remember things well especially when I’m busy, so I make it a habit to carry a notebook around with me to jot down anything important.”
REMEMBER! Avoid using “self-blame” when talking about your weaknesses. Recruiters want to know how much you understand yourself and if you’re practising self-improvement.