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Posted by vocalcannibal (407 posts) -

Surprise, I'm a junior in college and I'm staring straight down the barrel of a gun called 'required summer internships'. Usually this would be more of a ready concern in spring, but this is a special case.

While I'm perfectly aware that the hiring process as a whole in America has been changing rapidly for years and that my area of study isn't exactly the most mainstream thing for this website, I figure any advice is worth hearing. I mean, I assume that a good chunk of duders have jobs. That's more than I have, and I'm willing to admit it!

I have an interview for a fashion design internship at a very large company with a young consumer demographic on November 11th. It's paid (very well), has provided housing, access to a private campus gym, massive discounts at retailers, and priority hiring after graduation -- that's the big one! I feel good about my resume and portfolio (and there's not too much I could do to either than I'm not already aware of right now), so all that's left is making a good impression with the scouts that I meet!

I've heard I need a good handshake and that I should demonstrate that I'm knowledgable about the brand, and ask questions when I can. Any other general pointers come to mind?

I turn to you, community. Pump up my interview game. I don't want to be jobless after I graduate. Not with all these loans.

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#1 Posted by jay_ray (1569 posts) -

Fashion you say... work on your pursed lips and wear headbands

That cover the obligatory Zoolander joke.

You sound like you have a good base. Just make sure you are knowledgeable about the company and their competitors (direct and indirect) and this is the biggest one act casual and like you are meeting an old friend in your speech. Be professional but show your personality.

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#2 Edited by Slag (8155 posts) -

@vocalcannibal:

I think one thing that can help is to do some practice interviews and try to get some interviews for jobs you may not be interested in. That way when you get into the interview you're calm and have an idea of what kind of curveballs they may toss at you. A good handshake is important, as well as maintaining eye contact and good posture.

Check with your career center too at your school. They usually have resources to help with concerns like this.

The thing to always remember is that getting a job is a people skill,That's one reason it's so powerful to have personal connections at prospective place of employment, as they can advocate for you. As the old saying goes it's who you know that gets you a job what you can do.

While your resume and portfolio may get you in the door, it's often you the person that closes the deal. Being likable in a professional manner is a balancing act. You want to be calm but not serene, confident but not arrogant, assertive yet respectful of the fact you don't work there yet, honest but tactful, passionate about the work but not desperate. It's not as difficult as it sounds, you probably already instinctively know how to do these things.

And lastly don't forget to take of yourself a little bit in the interview too. An interview is also an opportunity for you to learn about whether the company is a place you'd like to work too. Just because you think you do or don't ahead of time , doesn't mean you will think the same once you see inside the company a bit. Keep an open mind as sometimes you may get a great offer you never were expecting.

Hey good luck!

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#3 Edited by afabs515 (2005 posts) -

I feel like this site is connected to my life somehow. I'm a senior graduating in May, and I just had a full day of interviews today at Capital One for their Tech Development Program. While the case study and technical interviews I did won't help you out, there was a behavioral component as well.

The most important tip I can give you is the tip that the recruiters, company employees, and online videos all give out: Remain calm, no matter what happens!The worst thing you can do in any interview is panic. If the interviewer asks a question you don't immediately know the answer to, ask for a minute to collect your thoughts, take a deep breath, and work it out in your head. The interviewer is in this with you; he/she most likely doesn't want to have an awkward, stuttering conversation with you because it's no fun for anyone. Just take your time and don't panic.

As for content type stuff, just make sure that you're answering all the questions they want you to answer. Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the questions if you need to. In the worst case scenario, if you can't come up with an answer (and I mean there's literally nothing at all you can say that's relevant to the question), it isn't the end of the world if you have to stretch the truth a bit or make something up. I don't advise it unless you absolutely have to, but I've had to do it in the past, and I suspect it's better than saying, "Sorry, I've never done that/can't think of an example at all." Obviously people might have objections to this advice, but hey, I'm just talking from experience.

Finally, be true to yourself. I know that sounds corny, but hear me out. This is just an internship, but when you're looking for full time employment, you don't want to work at a place you aren't comfortable/happy at. It's just like looking for colleges back in the day. Carnegie Mellon might have looked better than University of Maryland on my transcript, but I would have been miserable at a tech school. Same with employment: Company X might pay really well, but if I don't particularly care about anything they're doing and/or don't like their company culture, it's not worth working there.

Good luck to you, duder. I hope your interviews go well and we both have jobs when we graduate haha.

TL;DR: Stay calm, no matter what. Don't be afraid to ask for a minute to collect your thoughts. Only make things up if you absolutely have to. Make sure you will be happy working for the Company you're applying for before committing.

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#4 Edited by The_A_Drain (4073 posts) -

What's already been said is all good, but I'll add in another vote for 'be true to yourself' because, ok maybe this isn't AS important for a summer internship as it would be for a job you intend to be in for 10+ years or whatever, but it's still important. It's important not only that your potential boss/colleagues get an idea about whether or not you'll fit into the team, but that you get an idea for whether or not they are a good fit for you too.

Remember, while it's easy to get caught up in the feeling that you're staring down the barrel of a gun, you aren't the only one being interviewed during an interview. They are as well, you are interviewing them. You need to work out what you want to know about the company that you can't find out online, ask them to elaborate on things you found interesting or their opinions on things you think are important in the workplace (for me for example, in my most recent job I asked about whether or not my colleagues had a sense of humor, because I find it difficult to work with people who are 100% serious 100% of the time, it might seem like a dumb question but I wanted to know more about the general corporate culture and the specific people I'd be working with just as much as they wanted to know about whether I was qualified, turns out, that was important to them too and they also didn't want somebody who didn't know how to have a laugh during a coffee-break)

So just take some time to work out what you want to know about them as well as what they want to know about you.

I've never failed to at least progress to round 2 of an interview, and hilariously the only jobs I've not been offered were menial jobs I applied to as backup, for example my current job I applied to subway, mcdonalds, burger king, argos, tesco, asda, etc and not one of them got back to me. The two junior programming jobs I applied for ended up fighting over me within days of sending my CV off. Despite me feeling like I really wasn't qualified and feeling like both sets of interviews went poorly.

One last tip, never ever ever bullshit that you know something you don't. It's ok to say "I've used X, but I wouldn't claim to be competent with it" or "I don't know anything about Y but I'd be willing to learn". Provided of course you don't turn out to be totally unqualified, those will earn you so many more points than bullshitting that you do know, because at best they will see right through you and never call you back, at worst they'll fail to do so and you'll end up potentially in a work environment where potentially both you AND some of your colleagues are unable and unqualified to do the job properly, which won't be very fun for anybody.

Don't be afraid to say "I know nothing about that" for a lot of stuff, as an example, more than half the things they wanted at my current job I had never used before and was very upfront about that, and they were fine with it.

So just take a deep breath, be yourself, and knock it out of the park duder.

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#5 Edited by rahulricky (299 posts) -

A few things it can be easy to forget when prepping for an interview - think of a few questions that you'd want to ask them. Show's you're keen about the job, have researched ahead of time. I also like to ask interviewers what they like about their job or the company, gives them a chance to talk for a while and they'll leave feeling like you've had a good conversation.

Remember to research competitors, not just the brand for which you'll work. A knowledge of what challenges they face in the marketplace again shows that you're interested and would fit in quickly with the team.

Finally something I think's already been said above, but to reiterate - prepare some anecdotes and examples for the common interview questions - you know, "tell me about a time when you've had to deal with a challenging customer" or "How have you resolved a dispute with a peer or colleague in the past?"

*edit* good luck! That job sounds like a great step into the big scary world!

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#6 Posted by vocalcannibal (407 posts) -

Thanks for all the advice so far! There are definitely a lot of good points in here. I think looking into the competitors is a pretty good idea, and I was considering scheduling a mock interview already.

I've interviewed for a pretty decent number of high school retail jobs so luckily I don't really have issues with nerves, /and/ I also got the last job I interviewed for in luxury retail so I could definitely be much less prepared, haha.