Nailing your first professional interview

So you’ve landed an interview – congratulations are in order! You’ll endure plenty of interviews over the course of your career, and while sitting down to sell yourself to a potential employer can be nerve-wracking and intimidating, it’s also awesome practice. You’ll get better every time, and interviewing is an art form in itself!

How to Stand Out During Your Internship Interview

Here’s the best approach.

1. Know your audience

Get serious about knowing the details about the position, the team, and the interviewer. Find ways to discuss the company’s history, mission statement, or current projects. The organization wants to know that you care about them as much as they care about you.

2. Rehearse some answers

You need to sound natural. But there are some questions that you should be prepared to answer.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates?

And of course, the all-important:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself!

Have these answers prepped and ready to go, because these questions are coming your way.

3. Dress for success

It doesn’t matter if the position is likely to require business casual attire, you’re dressing for an interview. Dress up. No candidate has ever, in the history of interviews, been denied a job for dressing too professionally.

4. Make a good first impression

Walk in, smile, and shake hands firmly with everyone in the room. Arrive early. Thank everyone for their time. Sit up straight and don’t fidget. Make eye contact, and be polite to the receptionist!

5. Ask questions that show your interviewer you did your research.

Want to knock their socks off? Mention a specific interviewer’s background when asking one of your (carefully prepared) questions. “Can you tell me which elements of your Database Programming degree from XY University have served you best in your role at this company? I’d like to know what coursework is going to be the most relevant if I’m hired.” Have 3 or 4 questions prepared, and make them sincere – what do you want to know? Remember, this is not a time to ask about salary or benefits.

6. Follow up!

Make sure your contact info is readily available (bring a business card!), and follow up later the same day with a quick email thanking your interviewer for his or her time. Your courtesy will be noted.

There’s no perfect way to interview, but with practice you’ll learn to work the room like a pro and leave a lasting, positive impression!


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Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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