General Advice for internship interviews

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed by the author in this article do not constitute financial advice and are solely for educational purposes only. When buying shares, the value of your investment may go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

It’s that time of year again when internship applications are in full swing and some of you might have interviews coming in the near future. If so, this post is for you! Even if you don’t have any interviews coming up in the near future, it’s always useful to prepare for potential interviews in the future. In my opinion, the most daunting parts of these applications are the various interviews that are required, whether it be online or in person. Although these interviews are quite scary (maybe an understatement) there are various ways that you can prepare and put yourself in the best position to be successful. I was in the position last year where I was invited to multiple internship interviews and was lucky enough to secure an internship with an actuarial company. I’m going to use my experience with these interviews to discuss various tips and tricks to help you prepare. Please note though that I am not an expert and am just sharing my experience!

Nailing the cheat sheet

My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you have a wide understanding of the specific company you have applied for. While this may seem pretty obvious, a detailed understanding of the company will put you ahead of many other applicants. When I was preparing for interviews I would create a so-called “cheat sheet” for each company I applied to. This sheet would include important things about the company including recent company and sector news, company values, company structure, a summary of annual reports, details about the position I was applying for.

It Is also important to include on this sheet why you have chosen this particular firm and this particular division. This was particularly helpful with online interviews as I could have this paper next to me, for in-person interviews this research will still be very useful though but will require some memorization!

Preparing examples

Another piece of advice similar to this is to make a competencies grid. The main competencies that you will require are communication, integrity, resilience, leadership, adaptability, time management, and client relations. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive. If you check the job description of the role you are applying for there should be a list of key competencies that they are looking for. In your interview, you are aiming to show that you have all the competencies that the company is looking for so you need to make sure you have a story demonstrating that you have each of these competencies. For my interview preparation, I made a grid that listed each competency, and under each competency, I bullet-pointed examples of when I have shown this skill.

Common questions

There are a few common interview questions that are likely to be asked. An example of this is the classic question “Tell us about yourself”. It is a good idea to prepare answers for typical questions like this and for this specific question you’ll want an answer which gives a brief description of your past, present, and future. Who you were, who you are now, and what you aspire to be in the future, obviously keeping it aimed towards the specific company and what they might be looking for. Having prepared answers for typical questions may help to reduce your stress.

However, under all the stress and preparation it is important to show that you are in fact a human, not a robot. Make sure to be smiley, though not overly smiley as this could be quite scary, and make eye contact! One of the most important things in this interview is that you show good communication skills and show that you are an easy person to talk to. So while you may have prepared answers and competencies to talk about, don’t just read/quote them directly from your cheat sheet as this may seem quite mechanical. In online interviews, there will often be a computer monitoring the eye contact you make so ensure that you are making eye contact and that you speak slowly and clearly.

Concluding thoughts

Finally, my last piece of advice is to try and stay calm. Although this may seem quite difficult just remember how much preparation you have done for this interview and have confidence in yourself. Don’t worry if you mess up during the interview, just make sure to correct yourself and keep going. In fact, this shows a lot of resilience so while at the time might feel like the worst thing possible, it may have impressed the interviewer.

Good luck everyone and I hope all your future interviews go well.