4 Pre-Interview Tips That Might Help You Land Your Internship

Posted by | May 29, 2014 | Tips for Interns

After all the time you’ve put into it, after all those emails you’ve sent out, you’ve finally been asked to come in for an interview – congratulations!

All you need to do now is make sure you show yourself in the best light possible (that should be easy, seeing as you’re already pretty darn fantastic). I’m going to share with you the four things that help me prepare for interviews, so read on, fellow job/internships seekers!

1. Come up with an elevator pitch

I can hear you groaning, I know I groaned whenever I read about elevator pitches. Because really? I’m supposed to cram my experiences and skills and personality into thirty seconds to two minutes of pure blabber with all those important key words?

Well, not exactly. You should have a few different pitches prepared, just in case. If the interviewer asks me to go through my CV and relevant experience, I usually give them that pitch, a quick summary of my past and how it ties with their job description. Yes, this method means preparing a different pitch for every interview, but it’s really worth it.

You might be asked to tell more about yourself, what you enjoy outside of work. For that one, I have a standard pitch that  goes something like this, “I’m an introvert and more of a listener than a talker. I studied social anthropology because it gave me the chance to learn about different cultures, which is something I enjoy. I like reading and movies and lately I’ve been marathoning Marvel movies. I love ice hockey but am pretty hopeless when it comes to playing it.” Pretty standard stuff but it gives the interviewer an insight in how you see yourself and how you’d fit in with their company.

2. Research tricky questions

Asking interviewees seemingly ridiculous questions is ta common mondus operandi these days. It allows the interviewers to see how you’d react to unusual situations and tests your reasoning skills, too. While you might not always get this sort of a question, it’s best to prepare for it. So go ahead, google tricky interview questions and prepare your own answers – or read through provided answers so you’re ready when the interviewer asks you “how much would you charge to wash all the windows in Manhattan?” Hint: break it down and set prices by window sizes, it’s not as if you’re expected to know how many windows there are in Manhattan (if you are, well… you’re in some really specific field, my friend).

3. Prepare for the really tricky questions

It can’t get trickier than figuring out how to fit two whales in a Mini, can it? Well, that depends on your perspective. Personally, I’m always afraid of the “tell me where do you see yourself in the next five years” question. My plans change and shift so I tend to go with a safe answer on this one: “I hope to be in a stable job, hopefully working my way up the ladder, continuing my education – in school or outside of it.” Sounds bland, yes, but it shows that you have a general idea of where you want your life to go (even if you might not have the slightest clue).

Take your time and research common interview questions. Read through them and write down the ones that stump you or give you that panicky feeling in your gut. Then take some time to answer them, preferably in writing. It’s easier to think that way, trust me on that one.

4. Have your little black book

Before every interview, I research the company I’m interviewing at and write down notes about them in my little black notebook (well, it’s purple, actually…). I usually reread those notes on my way to the interview and once I’m there, I ask them if they don’t mind if I take notes during the interview.

Yes, I take notes during interviews. You should, too. Sometimes you get extra bits of information about the position that you might not remember in the long run. If you’re bad with names, it’s quite handy to write down the names of your interviewers in your notebook so you can later send them a thank you note.

Don’t underestimate the power of research. When it’s your turn to ask questions, make sure you go quickly through your notes on the company before asking. It will show the interviewers that you are serious about this position and did your homework.


Oh, and the most important pre-interview tip: breathe. You’ve been asked to come in, which means the company is already interested in you. All you need to do now is show up and be yourself.

Best of luck and let me know if any of my tips worked for you!


— Author: Lena Zwolak

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