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Interviewing for Summer Jobs and Internships

What to do before the interview
What to wear
What is an interview like?
What to do during an interview
How to follow up after the interview

Interviews for internships and summer jobs are as varied as the types of positions for which students apply. A formal interview may be necessary for positions requiring a special skill, previous experience or particular background in specialized courses. On the other hand, the procedure for obtaining other internships may involve no more than sending a resume and a cover letter or making a phone call.

Whether the interview is long or short, formal or informal, thorough preparation is the key to getting an internship. You will feel more confident entering an interview if you've done your homework. An interview itself will seldom last more than 30 minutes, but getting ready will take considerably longer. Knowing what to do before, during, and after the interview can give you the edge in selling yourself to an employer.

An interview is the single most important stage of your internship search. There is no second chance, no replay. The interview is why and how you either get hired-- or don't get hired.

What to do before the interview: Do your homework!
1. Take stock of yourself via a personal "inventory" so that you can sell yourself. This means being able to articulate your skills, strengths, practical or relevant experience, and achievements and recognizing how it all fits into what is required to do the internship.
2. Develop an effective resume. Career Services can help you with this.
3. Doing your homework means research. Get as much information as possible about the internship, the employer and how you will fit in. Think about what you can do for the employer. Sources of information can be found in annual reports, recruitment or internship brochures, business periodicals and specific industry directories.
4. Evaluate your assets to determine which of your skills and experiences are most appropriate and most attractive to an employer. Then think of how you can highlight and "market" these positive assets to sell yourself. Remember: you should try to create a positive impression by being informed and goal-oriented. A good way to do this is to be clear about why you are interested in the internship and how your career goals and qualifications fit the employer's needs.
5. Practice interviewing. Enlist the help of Career Services.

What to wear
Appearance is extremely important in an interview. In many cases, applicants are selected because they look like what the employer had in mind. You cannot control an employer's preconceptions, but you can control how you look, and how you look may influence an employer's decision to hire you.

For internship interviews, you should always dress professionally.

Female applicants may wear a suit, a conservative dress or a skirt and jacket. Females should always wear natural-color hose and medium or low-heeled pumps; jewelry and make-up should also be conservative. Males may dress in a business suit or jacket and tie. Good grooming is essential and includes neat hair, nails, and shoes.

What is an interview like?
The interview begins before you even say "hello"! Make sure to arrive 15 - 20 minutes early to mentally prepare yourself and relax. The typical structure of an interview is likely to include five minutes of getting acquainted, 15 minutes in a discussion of your background and credentials, five minutes for you to ask questions and five minutes for wrap-up. As you can see, there is not much time for you to "sell yourself", so you must be organized and concise in making your key points.

You may be judged on a number of variables, including:

~ Personal characteristics - Grooming, manners, eye contact.
~ Self-expression - Are you forceful or vague in expressing your ideas and when responding to questions?
~ Personality - What are you like? Outgoing? Quiet? Enthusiastic? Energetic? Confident?
~ Enthusiasm and Interest - Are you really interested in the employer? The particular internship? Are you just getting interview experience?
~ Career Goals - What do you want to do in your professional life?

What to do during an interview: sell yourself!
~ The first 3 - 5 minutes are the most important!
~ The first impression you give is the crucial one!
~ Upon introduction, shake the recruiter's hand firmly. Greet the interviewer with a smile, make "eye contact" and try to establish rapport.
~ Take your cues from the interviewer; for example, wait until you are invited to sit down to do so.
~Be aware that you are being evaluated from the minute you walk into the room. The way you shake hands; the way you are dressed; the way you sit; the way you talk and your voice inflections all play a part in the impression you give.
~ Maintain good eye contact.
~ Pay strict attention.
~ Display a confident, positive attitude. Even if you feel the interview isn't going well, don't show your discouragement.
~ Make it clear that you've done your "homework"!
~ Sell yourself! Make sure you communicate your strengths. Use specific examples of those strengths. Accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.
~ Be Honest!

How to follow up after the interview
Write a letter to the interviewer, thanking him or her for the interview. State your continuing interest in and enthusiasm for the position. If you forgot to mention something important during the interview, include that information in your letter. Wait for the period of time that the employer indicated he or she would notify you. If you do not hear, call to ask about the status of your application. While you are waiting to hear, contact other employers and try to obtain more interviews.

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