Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Top 5 Tips for preparing for intern interviews

Have you got an interview coming up? Need ideas to start your preparation?
It is rare that unpaid internships will ask you to attend an interview, but paid internships most likely will, as they will have a lot more applicants.  The earlier you start getting work experience/internships the better off you will be for when you graduate. 
I was having a conversation with a woman from Orion Books last week about the difficulty that graduates face trying to get a job in publishing (and in general), she gave me some good advice that, “it’s much easier trying to get a job whilst you have a job” – so something to keep in mind.

Below are my Top 5 Tips for preparing for Intern interviews and hey, they worked for me! 

1) Do your research
There is nothing worse than going to an interview without doing this first Top Tip. Studies have found that people who are worse off at interviews are the ones that haven’t done the sufficient research.

The main aspects of your research should be:
  • The company – check out the company website; know what they do and who they are. In my interview, my first question was ‘Have you been on the company website?’
  • The role – find out what skills are needed for the role that you are going for. This is useful, as you can drop in these skills when speaking about yourself. Fit yourself to the role, as opposed to fitting the role around you!
  • The product – if they are a book publishing company (for example) then find current titles that they have published. It’s a good idea to do this as the interviewer may ask whether you have read any books by their authors and if so, what books you like and why.
2) Think of ideas
This tip is especially significant if you’re going for a writing/journalist role - but it can be applied to other roles too. This tip comes back to a previous post of mine, on ‘Top 5 Tips to get you prepared for applying for work placements’, do you have a sample article you can take with you and pitch it to the interviewer on why it should get published? Additionally, have a look on the website or buy the magazine (for example) and collect new ideas for improving content, features etc and what you may like to write.

3) Compile your evidence
Don’t be lazy and try to keep all your ideas in your head. 
Get them typed up into organised documents. Once you have finished you should print these out and take them with you to your interview – it shows great work ethic and enthusiasm!
Also, as added finesse, it would be nice to have them ready in a folder as it looks presentable and professional.

Key items of evidence to have when you go for your interview:
  • A folder containing all your research on the company, and basically all the work/preparation you have done so far for your interview. 
  • Don’t forget your CV as your interviewer may want to look at it again or have a hard-copy.
  • Another folder that acts as your portfolio and then you can ‘show off’ the writing that you have already done or had published.
4) Your interviewer
 Try and research your interviewer because after all, they are going to be the number one person judging you at the interview. Do this for multiple people (if you don’t know who it is). It’s not unheard of to have 2 interviewers.

Find out what their role is and who they are. If you are able to drop in a few comments about them, i.e. ‘I watched the podcast you did on......I really liked it’, it shows further enthusiast. Make the interview as personal and unique as possible. Chances are, if you’re the only one who mentioned the podcast, then you’ll be one of the more memorable candidates. 

5) Don't forget the small extras time management, dress code, impressions
Don’t show up late to your interview – especially without leaving a message in advance. Its bad professional conduct and you’ll be remembered for being late. 
First impressions are very important to people in general, and first impressions are highly significant in interviews especially. So, make sure you are dressed well - always try to look smarter than more casual, that way you won’t hurt any first impressions.
 Lastly, make sure you present yourself and come across well to your interviewer. Basically, you don’t want to come across in any negative way and be remembered that way.

All of these tips can apply to any work role and any type of interview. Hopefully, this article has given you ideas of how you can prepare for your upcoming interview. 

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