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The 7 keys to nailing an interview for an internship, according to recruitment experts

Search for the company’s dress code so you can dress appropriately.

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  • One key to successfully nailing an internship application is to study the company inside out.
  • Another is to pay close attention to what you’re wearing when you interview for the role.
  • Always be prepared to speak about the things that aren’t on your resume.

Your first stint of work experience is extremely important.

It may lead to a full-time role and it can offer you an idea of what daily life is really like in a company. 

When you apply for an internship, it may be the first time you send out your resume or interview at a company, so you may be unsure of how to really ace the application process.

HR personnel and talent management experts told Insider some of the keys to interviewing for an internship.

1. Study the company well

It’s important to find out what the company does, what its values, mission, and vision are, said Beatriz Fraile Guinea, Chief People Officer (CPO) at Stratesys, a multinational company specializing in ICT services.

Similarly, Andrea Abelleira, in charge of the People and Administration area at Runnea, said that you should analyze the company and see if there’s anything particularly interesting about their activity or values. 

Rolf Bax, Content Specialist at CVApp.es, a platform that specializes in making online resumes, also noted the importance of researching the hiring company. Not doing so shows a lack of professionalism and disinterest.

2. Show confidence

Bax also said that once you’ve managed to get an interview, you should be relaxed and confident.

“A handshake that’s not too weak or too strong, eye contact during the interview. If you find this too difficult, try to fix your gaze on the space between the two eyebrows and it won’t be obvious that you’re avoiding eye contact. An open and sincere smile and don’t move your hands too much or cross your arms,” he said.

Bax stressed the importance of being confident and sure of your qualifications for the job, but without making the mistake of talking too much. 

“Stammering, looking at the floor, or being too synthetic when talking about your own abilities are evidence of insecurity,” he warned.

3. Be flexible and ready to adapt

Internships are all about your ability to take on information and apply it. You’re usually given simple, clearly defined tasks and then you’re observed as you carry them out. After a while, you’re expected to take some initiative and work out which tasks you can do on your own and without being told, said Antonio Blanco, co-founder and project coordinator at Atlas Robots.

Companies understand that there’s a big change from academia to the professional world, and showing that you’re able to adapt is one of the biggest things that they look for, Blanco said.

Fraile Guinea added that this flexibility is valued so highly by companies because of the constant change around us.

The firm will want to see a desire to learn, a willingness to change, and enthusiasm for working with them.

Rolf Bax said that, as it’s an internship, the interviewer isn’t usually looking for  previous work experience  — although this can sometimes be a plus — but rather the ability to learn and adapt.

4. Prepare to discuss what’s not on your resume

Beatriz Fraile Guinea advised mentioning interesting information about yourself that doesn’t appear on your resume.

The HR expert also recommended thinking about specific circumstances that can be used as an example when answering competency questions. Situations in which you have managed to overcome a stressful moment or a personal challenge that was particularly relevant.

Antonio Blanco said that in interviews he likes to ask interns about their personal interests. This way he can get to know them better and, if they talk about them with passion, it’s a sign that they can transfer that energy to any area of their life, including work. 

5. Play to your strengths

Rolf Bax stressed again that, being an internship position, they’re not so much looking for work experience, but for education, learning ability, and adaptability. Highlighting those kinds of soft skills during the talk is important.

“Education is important, even if it’s not directly related to the position, because it will show that you are committed and have your eyes on the job market,” he said. 

Beatriz Fraile Guinea recommended preparing a list of skills, not being too general, and going to concrete things that can be exemplified.

“If you’re asked about your weaknesses, try to avoid the typical… ‘I’m a perfectionist’ and try to give more natural answers and show the more human side we have. We all have flaws and it’s not a bad thing to identify them and try to correct them. That will show more honesty on your part,” she said.

Antonio Blanco said that, as most candidates already have experience, he often looks for the desire, spark, and initiative that they show.

6. Take care of your clothes

Fraile Guinea advised searching for the company’s dress code in social networks so that you can dress appropriately.

“If the interview is over the phone, practicing your phone smile can be useful because, although it may not seem like it, your tone is very noticeable,” she said.

Rolf Bax recommended dressing for the occasion, but without going overboard. There’s no point in showing up in a suit and tie for a physical job.

“The best is a ‘neutral’ type of attire, neither too flashy nor too somber. Don’t wear too much makeup either. Remember that you want them to look at your capabilities for the job, not your visual impact. But always be true to yourself and feel comfortable,” he said.

7. Make use of mentoring schemes and use your LinkedIn profile

Andrea Abelleira said it’s a good idea to seek external support during the selection process. Many colleges offer mentoring programs in which experienced professionals help students and graduates who are just starting out in their careers. 

Abelleira said  LinkedIn plays a fundamental role in your resume and encourages applicants to create a profile, but not just any old way.

“It’s a social network with its own particular way of working that you have to know, especially if you’re actively looking for a job and want to appear in the search results that companies carry out,” she said.

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