Ask the intern: How do I prepare for my interview?
Dear Sugar, my name is Liam and I’m a mechanical engineering student from Boston University in the US. I have just been given the chance to interview for an engineering company in Latin America with The Intern Group’s program. I think the company is a great match for me and my career goals, so I’m keen to be successful in my interview. However, this will be my first interview for an internship. As I don’t have a lot of interview experience, I was wondering if you could give me some job interview tips so that I make a good impression. -Liam.
Hi Liam, thanks so much for getting in touch. Congratulations on being accepted to the mechanical engineering program in Latin America with The Intern Group! The emerging market program in Colombia will be such a fantastic experience. Although I am sure you have what it takes to impress your placement interviewer, everyone can do with some advice before their first interview! I have made a list of what I think are the most important things to consider before an interview.
1. Stay calm
It is completely normal to be nervous before an interview, especially if it is your first one. However, try as much as possible not to let your nerves affect you. Appearing calm and confident, even if you don’t feel it, will put both you and your interviewer at ease.
If you are someone who is particularly affected by nerves, you could try out some breathing exercises before your interview. I’d also recommend skipping a pre-interview coffee or cigarette as caffeine and nicotine can make anxious feelings worse.
2. Do your research
Before your interview, ensure that you have brushed up on your knowledge of the engineering industry so that you are a well-informed candidate. Doing your homework on the specific company is also very beneficial in the interview process. Knowing the company’s history, aims, values and size and reflecting this knowledge in your answers shows the interviewer that you are serious about working for them. A common interview question can be ‘So, why do you want to work for our company?’. Using company knowledge in your answer shows that you are motivated to get the job.
3. Be on time
It is arguably easier to be on time to a Skype or phone interview as you don’t have things like traffic to worry about. However, technical problems are a modern-day reality. Make sure you do a test run with a friend to ensure that your Skype account and internet work perfectly.
As your interviewing for an international internship, I’d also remind you to triple check the time difference between your placement country and where you are. Time keeping is key in the working world, so you want to demonstrate that you have this skill from the start. It could really be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful interview.
4. Have some questions
Although the interviewer will mainly evaluate you based on your answers to their questions, questions that you ask can be just as important. By asking the interviewer questions related to the position and the company, you are demonstrating that you are actively engaging with what they’re saying. It also shows that you are prepared and have a genuine interest in the company and wider industry.
5. Appearance is key
For Skype or video call interviews, your appearance is just as important as it is in a face-to-face interview. This means dressing professionally. Although dress code varies between companies, it is generally better to err on the side of caution and dress formally for your interview. Even if your interview is via phone call, I would still recommend that you dress for the occasion. There is scientific evidence that the way you’re dressed influences your mindset and performance!
Additionally, make sure that you are aware of what else is in view if you are interviewing via Skype. Pick a place with a plain background so that the interviewer isn’t distracted and you look professional.
6. Engage with your interviewer
As your interviewer has already looked over your resume and selected you, they are aware of your past experience and skill set. One of the main purposes of the interview is to establish whether you are a good fit for the company’s culture. Although you need to keep it professional, it is also important to be personable. By engaging with your interviewer, you are showing that you are an easy person to work with. Simple things such as being smiley and maintaining eye contact can go a long way.
Now you know my top job interview tips, apply today to launch your career.