A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how to prepare for your internship interview. I covered questions you should brainstorm, what you should research and how to impress the hiring manager before you even walk through the door.
I really liked writing that, and now I want to share with you how to impress the company when you’re meeting with the higher ups in person for the first time. It’s so important to prepare, but it is equally important that you know how to act in the actual interview. This is the first time your potential boss is meeting you, and you want to make sure that he or she sees you as a great fit for the company.
There are several things you can do to help put forward your best self in an interview. When you first meet the person who will be interviewing you, greet him or her with a firm handshake and make eye contact. This is a really small detail, but it can make a big difference. This will help to assert your presence and show the hiring manager that you are confident and ready for the job. If your eyes are constantly darting around the room, it might come off like you’re either uninterested in the job or not confident in your abilities.
Be energetic. This is a hard one for me. I tend to be a very reserved person and I have a quiet voice. But, this isn’t how you want to act in the interview. It’s OK if you are soft-spoken, but don’t let that be mistaken for being scared or unsure. Sit up straight, speak confidently, make eye contact and seem enthusiastic. You’re interviewing for the job because you’re interested in the work it entails, so you should seem excited while talking about what you do.
When answering questions, don’t be the one to stop talking and definitely don’t give one word or one sentence answers. When I’m in an interview, I try to talk until another question naturally comes up. You don’t want to answer in 10 seconds and then just stop talking and stare awkwardly at the interviewer; waiting for him or her to ask another question. This will come off as awkward and make the person you’re talking to think you either don’t have much to say or that you are unprepared. You want to make him or her think you are just chalk full of information about the job you want, and that you could talk for hours about it. This shows that you’re interested and shows that you have done your homework.
Make it a conversation. It shouldn’t seem like a one-way street. An interview is so much more than the employer asking a question and you responding. Don’t be afraid to interject with commentary when the employer is talking, and also don’t be afraid to ask questions as well as answer them. Make the person you’re talking to feel like he or she is having a conversation, not interviewing a potential employee. It should flow naturally and be a back and forth. This is hard to do and I’m still not very good at it. It takes a lot practice. What I like to do is think of the employer as a friend, and I try to block out al the thoughts about how great this job would be or how badly I want it. Just trust that if you’re a good fit, it will work out. And if it doesn’t that’s OK too. There will be other opportunities. This helps calm my anxiety and makes me more confident, talkative and relaxed in the interview.
When answering questions, make sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. This doesn’t mean just listing off facts you read online. This means that you should go to the interview prepared with a few facts that you found interesting or relevant, and try to naturally slip those facts into the conversation. For example, if you are interviewing at a company that makes cups, do some research on how many cups the company sells every year. Then when the hiring manager asks you why you want to work for the company, answer that this company is the largest seller of cups and sold over x number of cups last year alone, and you’re impressed by that and want to help grow the company even more.
In my last post about internship interviews, I wrote that you should think about stories from your last job that show your leadership and accountability. This is the time to bring those stories up. When the interviewer asks about a time you showed leadership potential, bring up that story about how you lead a project at work that was really successful. This will make you stand out because the employer will have real reasons to hire you. It’s so easy to make general statements about how you have leadership potential and how you have the experience necessary to do the job. But, it’s another thing to bring up real, concrete examples that show how you have abilities and qualities that will help you do the job well.
Talk about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. This is not the time to ask about how much you’ll be paid or what benefits you’ll get. You can discuss these aspects once you have been offered the job. If you bring up these topics too early, it will make the hiring manager think you’re only in it for the money and you don’t genuinely care about the job you will be doing. Talk about what you are excited to do for the company, what ideas you have to improve and where you see the company going. Show that you genuinely care about the work they do there. Tell them all the benefits they will get if they choose to hire you. The company wants to hire the person who will work the hardest and do the best work, so tell the interviewer all about what you can and are willing to do to make the company better.
Lastly, make sure to ask questions. This whole process is about showing that you are interested in the job. No one wants to hire a person who is already bored with the work they’re doing. The best way to show interest is to ask a lot of questions. I put some sample questions in my last post about internship interviews, so check those out here. Asking questions will demonstrate your willingness to learn about the company and it will show that you genuinely want the job. If you don’t have any questions, it will come off like you aren’t curious and don’t care about the job you’re applying for. Be curious!
I really hope these tips helped you, and be sure to let me know if you have any tips that have helped you during the interview process – I would love to hear! Thanks for reading!