advice for an internship/job interview???

I have my very first interview for an internship, full-time, well paid. It’s with a PR firm.

So, what advice do you have about what to wear etc?
I was going to wear a suit but I don’t want to overdress, is there such thing?
What other advice do you have? This is a pretty intense interview… almost seven hours with about eight different people.

I pretty much have the spot locked in… I just don’t want to make any mistakes.

Also, what about the jitters? Those seem to be setting in as well. sigh

Let’s tackle dress first… It is usually the easiest. You have a suit? Wear it! I don’t think you can ‘overdress’ for a professional position. You can only make one first impression, might as well be a good one. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, 7hrs is a long time if your feet hurt. Don’t chew gum, big no no.
Now for the interview proper. Have you reseached the company at all? It is nice to have an idea of what they do and how they present themselves. Check out their website if they have one.

The fun questions. Go ahead and be prepared for the standard questions such as:
What are you strengths, your weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in XX years. Crap like that. NEVER say “I don’t know”… Not only is some of this infromation actually relevant to the interview process, some of the questions are based on pysch theory to help an employer figure out more about you…

Don’t forget your body posture during the process, it can say a lot about you. Try and relax, remember that you are trying to figure out if the company is a good fit for you as well…

You can always search online for interviewing techniques.

Good luck and don’t stress it, you will do fine.

Prepare some questions about the company that you can ask. After they are done asking you questions, the last one is generally “Do you have any questions for me?” It is always better to ask a few, thoughtful questions to show that you have some interest in the company, its direction, the greatest challenges the company is facing, etc.

My questions to a company usually go into their benefits package (insurance, 401k, etc…), which can be a big part of the salary thing, but seeing that this is for an internship, I doubt benefits will be offered…

Do NOT ask about salary, benefits, etc. during the first interview round, especially for an internship or entry level position. Your job in the first round is to make them want you.

Find out who their clients are and ask about what programs they are doing (media relations, special events, investor relations, etc.) Wherever you can, point out your experience in those areas.

Yes, it’s possible to overdress. If you were trying to get a job as a fry cook at McDonald’s, you don’t have to wear a suit, and you’d probably look weird if you did. But you’re going for position in public relations, so yes, you should wear a suit. Appearance probably matters a lot for this company, and it probably should. For this type of job, you would only be overdressed if you were in coat and tails.

Oh, and you should know the answer to this interview question: What color is your brain?*

*My husband went on a job interview a couple weeks ago, so he was researching interview questions online, and that was one of the questions he saw of some of the ridiculous things people have been asked in interviews.

For the record, he wore black slacks, charcoal gray long-sleeved shirt, and a sedate tie; no suit. He already knew the company’s dress code was business casual, and it’s a tech position, which generally has more lax dress. He starts a week from tomorrow.

Do NOT ask about salary, benefits, etc. during the first interview round, especially for an internship or entry level position. Your job in the first round is to make them want you.

I disagree.

I do agree that internships are differenet, so I will leave them out. IMHO, while yes, you are trying to “sell” yourself to the company, you want to make sure that it is going to be a good fit for you too. Pay and benefits are the reason you are there quite frankly. I don’t know too many people who go to work “because it is fun”. If the company has poor benefits, your ‘net income’ is going to be significantly lower than what is shown on paper. If this isn’t in the aceptable range for you, then why waste your time anymore? I have never just interviewed at one place, either. Usually when you are looking for a job, you interview at several places. My time is important to me, just as their time is important to them. Why go back for a 2nd interview if the place sucks?..

Again, that is just my opinion.

YMMV, but when I’ve interviewed people, and am wrapping up with “do you have any questions for me?” if the first thing out of their mouths is “so what’s the pay?” I get turned off right away. I understand that it is a natural thing for people to want to know, but in my mind the first interview is to suss out the personality and philosophical “fit” between the company and the interviewee. If clearly the main, or only reason they want to be there is the pay, then they are not a particularly attractive candidate.

I wouldn’t bring up pay/benefits in the first interview at all. But if it comes up naturally (say, the interviewer broaches the subject and you want more detail) then I wouldn’t use it as the lead-off question. Your first question should be something about the company, projects you might work on, “company culture,” co-workers, even your interviewer’s background. Anything but money.

Yes, wear a suit. Since you’re interviewing with a PR firm, it doesn’t have to be a navy blue suit banking suit. I wouldn’t say go too trendy, but you can be more modern than in some other industries. Make sure your suit fits and is professionally cleaned. Also check that your shoes aren’t scuffy.

I don’t ask about pay and benefits during interviews. I do ask when I get an offer.

As mentioned, research the company, their major clients, and their competitors Come prepared with questions that show you understand what they do and are very interested in learning all about it. Write your questions down and bring them with you to the interview. It’s easy to forget them or have your mind go blank when you’re nervous.

If you run short on questions and still have time, some stock questions I ask are “what type of person really stands out and succeeds here” (this is different from what skills are needed–I like to know what personality traits they value). It gives you a good seque into how you’re that type of person. I also ask what the interviewer likes best about working there. It’s a stock question and they know they’ll get it, but it is something that’s important to learn. If you’re brave, you can ask what they like least about working there, but be careful that you don’t finish the interview on that note. You want to leave on a positive note.

You should also do an inventory of your major skills, strengths, and accomplishments and make sure you have support for them. I hate it when candidates mention their strength and leave it at that. For example, don’t just say “I’m a good writer” without expanding on how your writing has been valued and helped you succeed. Again, write all this down (it doesn’t have to be a novel, just something to jog your memory when you get nervous). You don’t have to have “cites,” but you should have examples to talk about that demonstrate your skills and strengths and be able to tell an engaging story about your major accomplishments.

Please don’t skimp on the research or the self evaluation. I hate when we interview candidates with stunning resumes and the interview just falls flat. They don’t have intelligent questions or they give short answers to our questions that really don’t tell us who they are or what they’ve accomplished.

Jitters happen to everyone. I expect that people we interview will be a bit nervous. It helps to write down everything I’ve mentioned so you know you’re prepared. Another thing that helps is to go over your strengths, skills, and accomplishment repeatedly before the interview. If you tend to get dry mouth with nerves, bring some Tic Tacs or small breath mints that you can pop in your mouth in between interviews. You can also practice interviews with friends so you get used to answering questions and thinking on the spot.

Since you’re interviewing for a PR spot, they may ask you to bring a writing sample. They really should ask ahead of time, but you may want to bring one just in case. If they don’t ask you to bring one, don’t be surprised if they expect you to write something on the spot. Don’t stress out about it. If they’re asking you, they’re asking everyone and they’re all in the same predicament you are.

At the end of every interview, make it clear that you’re interested in the position and you really like what they had to tell you. I don’t go so far as to outright ask for the job as some interview books will suggest. That always sounds cheesy coming from me. However, I do say something like “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, espcially the part about {something we’ve talked about}. This would be a great opportunity for me to {something I’ve mentioned as a career development goal}, and I’d love to be a part of your organization.”

Follow up with a thank you email and a written note card in the mail. I don’t send fully written thank you letters through the mail anymore, but I think the note card (in addition to the email) is a nice touch. Make sure you send an email to everyone you talked to, bring in something from your conversation, and get in a selling point or two. Personally, I don’t like the follow up emails that are supposedly a “thank you” but go into three or four paragraphs on how great the person is. One paragraph is expected, but more than that cheapens the “thank you” to me. However, that is my personal preference.