Congratulations! You were just called to interview for that internship you really wanted or the post-graduation job you have been anxious about. Now that your cover letter and resume have impressed the right people, its time to do some interview prep. The interview is the time to put the final touches on convincing the possible employer that not only do you want to work for them but that they need you on their team.
Even if you are a people person, don’t have a problem chatting with new people, and are confident in your interview skills, everyone needs to do some preparation. Before interviewing for my current internship, I took one night out of my week to prepare myself for the interview. This position was one I truly wanted, and I setting a viable amount of time aside for interview prep made me feel confident walking in and out of my interview. Below are some tips to keep in mind so that you can rock any interview!
Research the Organization
This one is obvious, but it’s more than just looking at the organization’s website and knowing their mission or some history. During an interview, you should talk about the organization as much, if not more then you talk about yourself. Look at their history, blogs, social media platforms, if they have recently been in the news, etc. Use these different topics and relate the organization back to your skills. Doing this will show the interviewer why you would be a good fit for the position, that you care about working for the organization, and that this interview means something to you.
For example, at my recent interview with a hospital’s marketing team, I explained that I liked how they communicate the hospital’s mission, vision, and values through the patient story blogs and videos they create. I even brought up a specific video I thought they did a great job with. This helped showed the interviewer that I was excited and ready to jump right into assisting the team if I was given the opportunity.
Perfect the Elevator Speech
“So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” This should be the easiest question to answer without any prep, right? While it can be easy to talk about yourself, what you enjoy doing, your schooling, and past work or internship experiences, it's also easy to keep rambling on. These are all things the interviewer wants to hear, but think about the elevator speech as concisely telling the interviewer who you are, what you do, and the things you know.
Tell them your name, where you go to school, and what you are majoring in. Then go into what experiences you have had related to the field. This could be past internships, student organization participation, or classroom experience. Talk about the knowledge and skills you have learned through your experiences and use some examples from certain projects you have worked on. Most importantly, relate this back to the employer. Explain how these skills and your other personal characteristics could help the organization grow.
Prepare Relevant Work Samples
Don't forget to actually use them! I have found that during interviews, possible employers like when you can tie the samples you have brought into the conversation you are having. When you are talking about your strengths or why you should be hired, use your work samples as evidence.
You shouldn’t sound like you are rehearsing a script during an interview, but it doesn’t hurt to sketch out some answers beforehand. Having various talking points under each topic of who you are, what you do, what you know, and being able to talk about your skills, abilities, interests, passions, and values will help you be able to answer almost any question thrown at you. Check out the Grand Valley career center’s website for a list of the top ten interview questions asked and for some more tips on how to answer these questions!
In your CAP 495 class, if your professor sets aside a day for the career center to come in and do mock interviews with your class, GO. We did this in my class and over half of the class didn’t go, but I greatly benefited from going. It is awkward at first but you get constructive feedback from professionals that will help! The career center’s website also has great interview prep resources.
Now, go pick out the perfect outfit, make sure you know where you need to go for the interview, double check what time you need to be there, and make sure to follow up with your interviewer with a thank you card or email. Good luck!
Feel free to comment below with any other tips you have for interview preparation!
Lauren Staff is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying advertising and public relations. This is her first year in GrandPR and she looks forward to expanding her PR knowledge and leadership skills as an account executive. She is currently a marketing and public relations intern at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as well as a public relations intern at COM 616 in Grand Rapids. In Lauren’s free time you can find her hanging out with friends, reading a book, drinking coffee, or watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.