Welcome to the fourth topic of this module which is on Preparing for assessments and interviews. After you have reached out or applied to an organisation for an internship, it is common for an assessment or interview to be held. This may be decisive in selecting you or just for due process even when you have been guaranteed an internship placement.
Assessments are commonly used by employers to evaluate various aspects of candidates’ abilities and skills. These assessments may include aptitude tests, language proficiency tests, technical knowledge assessments, or even current affairs evaluations.
Aptitude tests may consist of objective questions to test your reasoning abilities, numerical skills, and problem-solving capabilities. Language proficiency tests assess your English language proficiency, while technical knowledge assessments evaluate your expertise in specific areas.
To prepare effectively, conduct online research to find out what kind of assessments a company typically administers. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask the contact person from the company for more information about the assessment process. Knowing what to expect will help you prepare better. Use various resources to prepare for assessments. Practice assessment questions, watch educational videos on platforms like YouTube, and consider using conversational AI tools, like ChatGPT, or Bard to enhance your knowledge and skills.
After an aptitude test, an interview will likely follow. This may be based on your test performance or as an added criteria for selection. These interviews may be formal or less formal Structured or chatty with one or multiple interviewers. It can be in-person or done over a call.
A crucial aspect of interviews is introducing yourself appropriately. A common interview question is: “Can we meet you?” or “Can you please introduce yourself to us?”
You can respond with your name, your course of study, your skills, what you are good at, and what you are good at. You can also mention your hobbies, favourite sports, and teams you support.
Prepare for other questions such as:
“What are your interests?”
“What are you good at or need to improve?”
“Why are you interested in interning with us?”
“How can you contribute to this organisation?”
“What are your expectations in terms of work environment and compensation?”
There may also be situational questions where you will be asked to give examples of when you overcame a challenge, succeeded at something, or demonstrated a skill. You can use the STAR method to respond to these questions. It helps you to structure your answers and provide specific examples based on Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You can learn more about the STAR method in the course materials section.
Here are tips to prepare for interviews:
- Research the Organisation
Before your internship interview, thoroughly research the company or organisation you’re interviewing with. Understand their mission, values, products or services, recent news, and the industry they operate. This knowledge will help you tailor your responses to show that you’re genuinely interested and align with their goals. It will also enable you to ask informed questions during the interview, demonstrating your commitment and preparedness.
- Dress Professionally: Dressing appropriately is a crucial aspect of making a positive first impression. Choose professional attire that aligns with the company’s dress code or industry standards. When in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. Pay attention to grooming, and ensure your clothing is clean, well-fitted, and wrinkle-free. Your appearance should convey your respect for the opportunity and your understanding of the workplace culture. Ensure you are well-dressed even if the interview is to be done remotely.
- Be Punctual: Being on time for the interview is vital as lateness makes you appear disorganized, and less confident, and can leave a negative impression on the interviewer. For in-person interviews, aim to be at the location at least 30 minutes before the interview. If online, aim to log in to the call at least five to ten minutes early, allowing for any unexpected delays such as technical issues in virtual interviews. Punctuality not only demonstrates your reliability but also gives you a few moments to collect your thoughts and calm your nerves before the interview begins. If unforeseen circumstances arise that could make you late, promptly notify the interviewer with a polite and apologetic message.
- Be Truthful at All Times: Honesty and transparency are essential during the interview process. Be truthful about your qualifications, experiences, and skills. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it, but express your eagerness to learn and your ability to adapt. Authenticity builds trust, and interviewers appreciate candidates who are genuine and self-aware.
- Maintain Eye Contact: During the actual interview, maintain consistent and appropriate eye contact with your interviewer. This non-verbal cue conveys confidence and attentiveness. However, don’t stare too intensely, as that can be perceived as aggressive. Balance your eye contact with natural gestures and facial expressions to create a comfortable and engaging conversation.
- Ask Good Questions: Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and the company. Inquire about the company’s culture, team dynamics, growth opportunities, and the specific responsibilities of the internship. Avoid asking questions that can easily be answered through basic research. Instead, focus on inquiries that showcase your curiosity and eagerness to contribute.
- Follow-Up After the Interview: Send a personalised thank-you email to your interviewer within a day or two after the interview. Express your gratitude for the opportunity and briefly reiterate your interest in the internship. This demonstrates professionalism and keeps you on the interviewer’s radar. If you don’t receive an offer, consider reaching out to the interviewer for feedback. This can provide valuable insights into areas where you can improve for future interviews.
These tips will increase your chances of making a strong impression and securing the opportunity. Conduct mock interviews with a friend, family member, or career counsellor. Practice answering common interview questions, refining your responses, and receiving feedback. This exercise will help you gain confidence, improve your articulation, and identify areas for improvement. You can also record yourself during mock interviews to assess your body language, tone, and overall presentation. Remember that interview preparation is an ongoing process, so continue refining your skills and building your confidence as you progress in your career.
This brings us to the end of this topic. We can now proceed to the next and final topic of this module: Evaluating, negotiating, and accepting an internship offer.