Owning the Interview

Leah Fleischel, Staff Writer

Hey everyone! Welcome to my blog, and thanks for reading.

Before I can talk about work, I’ve got to talk about how I landed my internship. Like any job, you’ve got to make a great first impression and ace the interview with flying colors.

I’ve done a fair share of interviews before, but over about two weeks this summer when I was interviewing for my fall internship position I did almost one every day. It was overwhelming and required a lot of preparation, but I learned a lot too.

This was also my first experience with phone interviews, which are completely different from real interviews. Here’s a few tips I learned from either reading extremely helpful tips online or experience. And trust me, it’s better to know them before you make the mistake.

  • When you answer the phone say “Hello, this is (name)” instead of “Hello?”. It saves the awkwardness of your interviewer asking if they are speaking to the proper person and makes it seem like you were prepared and are awaiting their call.
  • Be ready 15 minutes early. Some places intentionally call you to see if you are prepared ahead of time, don’t be one of the applicants caught off guard.
  • Don’t pencil it into your day jam-packed between two other things. Or on your lunch break. Give yourself, and your interviewer, plenty of time. It feels more casual since it’s over the phone, but if it was in-person you would have had to allot for travel time and time waiting. Take the fact that it’s only a phone call to allow for even more time.
  • Be enthusiastic. I mean really enthusiastic. Don’t yell into the phone or get so excited your voice is extremely high-pitched, but let them know you’re invested in the interview. Emotions are harder to translate over the phone since you lose the non-verbal communication, so be sure to stay engaged and excited about the opportunity you’re interviewing for.
  • I liked to stand in front of a mirror while I was on the phone. It sounds weird, but standing up (or at least keeping good posture) helps with your tone of voice and staying alert. As ideal as it might seem, I don’t recommend chilling on your couch in your sweats during an interview. The mirror part allows you to be aware of what you would be coming across like if it was in-person and helps you come across they way you want to.
  • Make sure your location is quiet and free of potential car alarms, barking dogs, yelling people, etc. You don’t want interruptions overshadowing your answers.
  • Use the fact they can’t see you to your advantage. Don’t have a mock script of what you might say at the risk of sounding robotic, but having notes on the organization and their website pulled up is extremely helpful.
  • Reference your resume or portfolio of your work the interviewer might have so they can still make visual connections to something you  mention while they are talking to you.
  • It sounds cliche, but be yourself. What you mention is the only thing they know about you outside of your resume and cover letter. The best interview I had I was able to exchange meaningful conversation with my interviewer, and even have a laugh or two. (Side note: I got offered the job immediately and this is the one I ended up taking).
  • Always have at least one question prepared, more specifically one that proves you’ve done your research. Pick something that requires insight, not something that can be found from a search engine.
  • Ask what the next step in the process is. This prevents you from going crazy and making that awkward call a week later to see if the position is still on the table.
  • FOLLOW UP. Thank them for their time, pull out a tidbit of the conversation you really enjoyed, and reiterate why you are a good fit for the position and the value you see in it. Then thank them again. Even if they offered you the job and you’re taking some time, thank them for what they already have done for you by giving you time and consideration.

I’m no pro, but I definitely felt myself getting better with every interview I took part in and experienced pretty good results following all of them. These tips won’t apply to everyone, but if at least one of them proves to be useful to you then I did my job.

Have any tips people need to know? Have a good (or funny) interview story? Put it in the comments!