You’ve heard the old proverb, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression, right? As college student in search of a dream internship or a grad about to launch a career, you can be strategic about the impressions you give and head off any snap judgments HR managers may unconsciously make.
Two easy ways to give a great first impression are to practice your responses to the most-asked internship interview questions and be deliberate about what you wear and how you present yourself visually. But there’s so much more!
Some candidates wrongly assume that for a short-term summer internship, less is expected in the interview than if it were for a full-time position. Not true. Employers see interns as a future investment that could translate into full-time employment, so they expect the same level of professionalism and performance.
How to Make a Bad Impression
The Muse offers five ways to turn off a recruiter in the first several seconds of an interview; things like wearing too much perfume or aftershave, or worse, forgetting your deodorant.
Another way to make a bad first impression is to wear clothes that don’t fit the company culture. You won’t get an offer from a company that maintains a business casual dress code if you come to the interview in jeans — no matter how chic or trendy or expensive they might be. (By the way, here are some tips for picking out the perfect interview outfit.)
How to Make the Best Impression
The key behaviors applicants exhibited that convinced recruiters to extend an internship offer included being attentive (instead of anxious), appearing competent, confident, dominant, optimistic, and professional.
Being punctual is expected. If this is your dream internship on the line, show up on time or early. If the subway breaks down, or traffic is stalled for an accident, call and tell them you’ll be late — as soon as you know. It’s better to forewarn before than ask forgiveness after.
Put your phone away, even if you’re waiting in the lobby or a conference room. It may be your habit to pull out your smart phone to kill time, but instead look over your resume and think through any talking points you want to hit during the interview. You don’t want to be playing Candy Crush when the recruiter walks in.
Have everything neat, organized and accessible so that when your interviewer asks for your resume, you don’t have to dig to find it. To make the best first impression possible, you should be able to pull out your resume, references and a pen (one that works) in seconds. The less you have to scramble and search, the better.
The Interview Guys have a pile of tips about researching and prepping for your interview with practice questions you might get from HR staffers. Don’t try to wing it, the Guys advise, but rather practice so you’re not caught off-guard and say something unrelated to the actual question.
Interviewing the Interviewer
Intern recruiting experts agree you should also be prepared with a list of at least 10 impressive interview questions to ask the hiring manager. This isn’t just a chance for them to see if you’re right for the company – it’s an opportunity to find out if this company is the right fit for you.
Check out the Internships.com list of possible questions to ask during your interview – queries like: Can you describe my manager’s leadership style? How would my role contribute to his or her success and vice versa? What does your ideal employee look like? How will my performance be measured? It’s likely that half of your questions will be covered during the interview, so have enough left so you can show off your preparation and insight.
It’s one way to make yourself memorable – in a good way!
Your Internship Offer is Just the Beginning!
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