Intern Talk: Interview Dos and Don’ts

You did your research and found the perfect summer internship. Now — after spending countless hours preparing a flawless application — you’ve been asked back to interview with the team you would be working with. What best practices should you know going into the interview? Below are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind:


conference_table_interview1Summarize your résumé: When asked a general question about a past position, it’s tempting to simply reiterate the duties and successes you already have listed on your résumé. The interviewer has already read your résumé, so instead of repeating information they already know, try referencing a particular success or responsibility and expand upon it with a story or example.

Elaborate too much: Your interviewer likely has a very busy schedule and will appreciate concise, to-the-point answers to questions asked. It’s perfectly acceptable – and encouraged – to give examples within your answers; however, you should always be conscious of how long the story is as you tell it. Also important to keep in mind: concise answers are reflective of your ability to be concise within other areas, such as in your writing.

Cram last minute: The night before an interview is not the time to do last-minute research or interview preparation. Before putting together your initial application, you should have done basic research on the organization and team. Be confident in the research you’ve already completed and take the night before to prepare mentally for the interview. Staying up late researching can hinder your performance the next day.


Answer the question: When answering a difficult and complex question, it’s easy to get side-tracked by a tangent story, but remember to conclude by answering the question. The interviewer will notice and mentally dock you for talking around a question or straying so far from the original topic that you forget to answer the question altogether.

Show enthusiasm: You want the interviewer to come away feeling energized and excited about what you have to offer the position and organization. The best way to do this is by genuinely being excited about the position for which you’re applying; the key word here is genuine. Convey your enthusiasm through a positive attitude, open body language and goals for the position.

Bring smart questions: Everyone knows that you’re supposed to go to an interview prepared with questions, but there is an emphasis here on smart questions. Show that you’ve thought critically about the position, the organization and the industry by asking several in-depth questions. Of course, you should ask basic questions such as when the internship begins, but consider mixing these more basic questions in with thoughtful questions.

At the end of the day, interviewers want to hire candidates they can envision seamlessly joining their team. This means that they’re looking to see if you are both a professional and personal fit. Interviewing is inherently stressful — there’s no way around that — but if you take a moment during the interview to relax, take a breath and have a real, human conversation, it will only help your chances of landing the position.

What are your tried and true interview tips? Share in the comments below.

“Intern Talk” is a monthly guest column produced by Ellie Boggs, vice president of career services. The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manualand Internship Center.


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