Interview Tips

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Like most people I at some point was completely lost when it came to interviews. I still feel kind of lost but I have picked up some tips along the way, especially during our search for internships in New York City. This post are hopefully helpful to someone who like me feels a little uneasy with the whole thing.

First off, if you’re traveling a distance or staying out a day for several interviews; then there are things you should have in your bag. This is from my point of view as a women but I’m sure there are many things you could add/remove from your point of view!

Pack in your bag:

  • Resumes: ALWAYS have printed copies of your resume with you, if they ask for it and you don’t – terrible for your standing. This tip I got from my advisors and teachers here at IIB who all emphasised how important it was.
  • Notes: Don’t underestimate doing your research. It makes a better impression if you know your stuff!
  • Deodorant/perfume: Running around can get sweaty and using one of these or both could improve any possible smell but also make you feel more confident.
  • Wet wipes: This actually became useful to me when I was in New York for two interviews. I had time for lunch in between and managed to get an unfortunate stain on my white shirt. Luckily a wet wipe did the trick!
  • Water: If you don’t have a lot of time, water can be important because you don’t want to get dehydrated.
  • Change of shirt: Not necessary but if you’re away for an entire day and something happens – it can save your day.

These followings are tips for preparation, the day of the interview and some other things I’ve thought of:

  • Do your research!
  • Prepare your answers for the classic questions such as strengths, weaknesses, a conflicting situation you overcame, a problem you solved, a deadline you had to hit, your interest in the position – make sure it all is relevant to the position.
  • Dress well but be YOU! It’s not always worth it to be uncomfortable just to be well dressed. Make sure you feel good about your outfit – it shines through!
  • Be early! I’m a time optimist and always stressing out so getting to a location ridiculously early really helps me. Especially if you haven’t been there before, get there early and sit down at a café or something. Check out nearby coffee shops or restaurants on Google Maps before hand if you feel unsure! Take the time to revise notes and calm down.
  • Smile at everyone! I was told to both smile and say hi if acknowledged as anyone might be a potential coworker and having a good impression of you is therefore an advantage.
  • Freshen up!  Before you head to the office, freshen up and check your appearance quickly in a mirror.

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The awkward interview

New York Times Square

                                                                                                                 Picture from Wikipedia

 

Time for interviews, even though our advisers are always supporting us and sending our resumes to every possible company, we do have to search for ourselves, and that is what I did. I started to search for options, many of them captured my attention, companies such as Red Bull, Tech Day, T3, Foursquare etc. offered very interesting internships; nevertheless, almost none of them replied but one. XYZ company (could not use names) dedicated to the rent of spaces in order for entrepreneurs and startups to be able to work in a creative space, offering them quality networking and events. It was Friday 5th, when I received an email from the the CEO of the company, asking me if I was able for an Skype interview the next day. I totally said yes and prepare myself. The next day I took the interview even though she was almost 30 minutes late. The interview went well, but she asked me to made some research about startups promoted by the different consulates in NYC, I though this was a type of challenge in order to prove my skills, so I did my best and set a second interview for the following Wednesday.
On Wednesday I was ready at 10 am to talk her, but she was not, I waited for her to call, I sent her an email, and I actually sent her messages through Skype, I was really confused, but then I thought maybe she was very busy and could not take the call, so I sent her an email in order to set a new date. The same day, I received an email during the evening, no explanation from her, only a request for me to answer when I would be able again to talk to her. I got a little bit upset since I did not know if it was a cultural difference or if she really was like that. Then, I replied, and asked her if she was available the next day at 11 am. She did not reply, tough, I was 11 am sharp with my Skype open and my research at hand, and guess what? she was not there! I could not believe, I waited 30 minutes and then I sent an email asking her if she was still interested on giving me the opportunity to work at District Co Work.

She replied the email until Sunday, asking me if I could go and visit the offices the next day, I was very surprised and happy, so without question I replied and set an appointment at 9:30 am.

The next day I woke up at 5:30 am, I took the bus to NYC at 7:05 and got there almost at 9 am, I took a coffee and waited for the time to come. When I arrived, she was not there, so I had to wait again, it did not took so long when she arrived and asked me to join her at her office, she asked me some questions about my current courses, and then she asked me about my research. I have to mention, she was very strict in her questions, I was not feeling very welcomed and I thought she was acting a little condescending. When she gave me feedback about my research, she was actually talking me as if I was already working for her, which I did not like since she have not even explained me everything well.

Then, she asked me at what time I was going to leave since I had class that day, I said I was able until 11 since the bus will leave at 11:20. She took advantage of this and asked me to stay there improving my research, again I did not know what to say and stayed there. She took a phone call and left the room, it was 11 am, I had to go and she was not there. I took a look around the place so I could say thanks and leave, but as soon as I found her she made a sign with her fingers telling me to wait. I could not wait for her, so I sent her an email with the spreadsheet attached, telling her I was very thankful for her time and apologizing for leaving. I also asked her if the internship was paid or not since it was really important for me to know that if I would be working under that kind of pressure.

She sent me two emails, the first one asking me to send her the word document, my first thought when reading that was (really?), then the second email said: “Thank you. Regarding to the internship payment, please refer to the post from Indeed, it is an unpaid internship, but I am sure you will learn a lot. Tell me if you are still interested.” Obviously I was not interested anymore, so I decided to wait until Thursday to have my other interviews and then decide. So here I am still waiting for my next interviews, wish me luck!
Like a final comment, one friend always tells me everything happens for a reason, you always learn something, and for sure something better is waiting for you. So let us not be negative and keep looking forward!

First interview – done!

Today I went to my first interview for our internship this spring. I woke up early in NYC, got dressed and walked over to Union Square. The sun was shining and once again I fell in love with this city. After spending a few weeks in New Paltz I started to enjoy the small town life more than the city life but no, now I’m hooked again.

My interview was at a company called Wikia. Wikia is founded by the same person who started Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales, who is also a friend of mine. I met with the New York sales director and the Vice President at 10 a.m and it was so much fun. I just love going to interviews.

Everything went very well and we will see if this is the company that I will work for during the spring.

Let’s do this!

How to prepare for an interview

Everybody here at the IIB program need to prepare for an internship interview, follow the list and you will be well prepared!

1. Write a Resume. The resume should only be one page and you should just write those experience that are related for the job you are applying for- so not your life’s story. The layout should be clean and without a picture. See how in the picture slide!

2. Well, the first thing that you could do is to be sure that you have the right clothes for the interview. Here in the U.S they have a strict dresscode for the interview. Although some of us have been to interviews and felt quite overdressed. If you are a women you should wear a knee long skirt, a blouse, jacket and pumps. And if you are a man, a suit of course!

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3. You have to prepare for the questions that the interviewer will ask you. We got a booklet with different questions, “Tell me about your self”, “What is your strengths/ weakness?”, “Tell me about your last job” and “Why do you want an internship at our company?” etc. It’s good to be prepared! And it’s good to look up different words that you might use to sound more professional in the interview.

4. When you know which company you are going to you should read about the company. Google it!

5. Now should you be prepared so:  Good Luck!