Intern Week: Job Interview Tips Guaranteed To Earn You Fame, Fortune

March 28, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s Intern Week on the Idea Peepshow. We’re talking internships — why they’re valuable, how to land them and how to make the most of them when you do. If you’re currently on the internship hunt, check out our Summer Internship Campaign. Today’s Intern Week post is from Mike Keliher, a Fast Horse client relationship director.

See that headline? Wild, even obscene overstatement. These tips aren’t guaranteed to do anything, especially bring you fame and fortune. But I can tell you this: These job interview tips come from a guy who’s spent a fair amount of time on both sides of the interview table and has a genuine interest in helping you get past the anxiety and uncertainty that tend to prevent people from making the best possible impression.

With that, let’s get to it. Here’s some quick advice I hope helps you make the most of your next job interview, whether it’s for an internship position or any other early-career position.

Fast Horse Summer Internship Campaign logoStalk us first. Don’t you dare go into a job interview — here or anywhere — without studying up on the place. Get to know the type of work they do, the type of people they have on staff, the clients they work for, the topics they write about on their blog. As I said in my recent post on common questions I hear during an informational interviews, think about how you can prove to those folks you want to work there, not just anywhere you can get hired.

Please, just relax. Yes, I know. There’s a lot on the line. You really want this job and you’re a bit nervous. But trust me when I say there are few things that suck the personality out of a person like timidity and tension. Any job interview at a place worth working at will be more like a natural conversation than an interrogation-room grilling, so just put yourself at ease and chat with us. You know, like we might become friends or something. Just relax and take this hour-long opportunity to help us get to know you. That’s all we’re trying to do.

Answers are good. Conversation is great. News flash: Your goal during a job interview is not to answer each question dutifully while simply avoiding embarrassment. You need to make yourself stand out. The best way to do that is to be a conversationalist, not a simple question-answerer. Moving beyond simple questions and answers and getting to some real conversation starts to get at what we really want to see — confident, thoughtful people who are quick on their feet and can hold their own. Come prepared with some of your own questions, too, and here’s the kicker: Don’t just save them for the end when we ask, “So, do you have any questions for us?”

The interview doesn’t end when the interview ends. Take a cue from George’s experience, as outlined in his post yesterday. Be smart and thoughtful about staying in touch with the person or people you met during the interview process, and be sure to stay on the right side of the fine line that separates persistent from obnoxious. What crosses the line to “obnoxious” territory? I can’t say for sure, but we all know it when we see it. Trust your gut.

I hope this is helpful, but of course, it’s just a start. There’s so much more I could discuss. If you have any questions or anything else you’d like to hear about, feel free to leave a comment below or join the discussion over on our Facebook page.