The finish line: Interviewing your way to the offer

I got an internship offer!  The week before spring break, I was getting very nervous because I had not heard back from many places.  I did have one offer, but it was unpaid and in a different country… so it was really just a backup plan in case nothing else came through.  However, 2 weeks before Spring Break I got a call from a human resources representative at a Fortune 500 company requesting a brief phone interview.  I was really excited about the interview, and even more excited about the company (which I will tell you about in a few weeks)!

The first step was the informal phone interview.  The HR representative said that it would only take about half an hour and was really just to get to know me and my background a bit better.  However, I still wanted to be just as prepared as if I was going in to the office for a formal interview, so I did a lot of research on the company.  It’s a well-known consumer products company that has offices all over the world.  Therefore, I made sure that I knew about all of their brands and product offerings, as well as which products I use and their specific names.

In my opinion, the most important part of this step of the interview process was to demonstrate how excited I was about the company and the possible internship opportunity.  Because of my background working and living in China, I focused on the global aspects of the company and made sure that the interviewer knew how up to date I was on their company.  Obviously this strategy paid off because the next week, I was asked to come in for an interview at their NYC office.  I was able to arrange to go home to New Jersey just before break to do the interview.

I was told who I would be interviewing with and what departments they were from, so I immediately looked them up on LinkedIn to find out more about their backgrounds, interests, and specific roles at the company.  In preparing for the interview, I reviewed some marketing terms, researched the internship program, and thought about what aspects of my school and work experiences could be applied to the internship.

Although the interview was later in the afternoon, that day, I went into NYC early to have lunch with one of my dad’s friends who works in marketing.  This gave me an opportunity to casually discuss my experiences and interests with a family friend.  I HIGHLY recommend doing something similar to this before a big interview.  I was able to put into words why I wanted to work in marketing this summer and how my background qualifies me for those types of positions.  Having an hour or two to talk about myself professionally made me more comfortable and warmed-up when I walked into the actual interview.  Talking through your experiences and why you want the internship with your parents or your friends before you actually go to the interview will relax you and warm you up.

Once I got to the interview, I was calm and collected.  It was set up so that I had 2 interviews – the first with a more traditional marketing person and an HR representatives, and the second with a product development person.  Because the company promotes itself as young, fashion-forward, and friendly, I made sure to act that way.  Presenting myself in a way that I would immediately fit in at the company definitely helped.  I felt great after the interview and knew that I did the best I possibly could!

On Monday morning, I emailed the three people I interviewed with to thank them for their time.  Literally one hour later, I received a call offering me the internship!  I have accepted the internship, which I will hopefully be able to tell you more about in my next post, and will be living at home and working in NYC this summer.  It is a paid marketing internship at a Fortune 500 company that I am really interested in and passionate about!

Ultimately, knowing the company and how I could fit into it proved to be necessary in being offered interviews, and later the internship position.  The most important thing is to get excited about the company and the role you will serve as an intern, and also to be comfortable and collected when you actually do the interview.  I hope everyone is having some luck with hearing back from internships and getting interviews!

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