Given that a lot of ENSI people are preparing for their very first interviews nowadays, I decided to share some important points that I have gathered through the little experience I had had.
The good thing is that the recruiter or the project leader with whom the interview is gonna be, knows very well that this is about the first interview for the candidate. So he/she makes it more or less simple and he/she usually tries to make you feel comfortable as he/she knows and understands very well how stressed you are.
Nevertheless, a minimum of preparation is required and expected from the candidate’s side. Here are some basic points:
- First impression, this where all begins, it has to be put in mind: formal clothes + strong (not too much !) handshake + confident friendly eye contact, these are the basics !
- A perfect self presentation, “So can you tell me a little about you?” This is usually the first ice-braking question of the recruiter. I personally developed a strategy that I called the 3 W’s: Who, What, Why.
- “Who” for telling your complete name, age and your current status (final-year student, graduate, …).
- “What” is for what have you done in your life: 2 words about education, 1 word about extra-curricular activities and 1 word about your main interests. Don’t talk about your projects and technical background. That will come later.
- “Why” is of course why did you specifically apply for that company. Some standards always-working arguments are that the company works in a field that you are very interested in, the company has a distinguished learning environment, the company has a good supervision strategy (how did you know that? From an acquaintance working here)… The perfect conclusion is when you end your speech with “and this fits exactly my short-term career objectives”. This small speech shouldn’t exceed 3 minutes !
- Then the recruiter will ask you to talk about the projects that you have done. It’s obvious that you should master what you will be talking about, that you should provide a non-technical, complete, global and short description ! A strategic pedagogic way of explaining will make you distinguished (when you for example link your sentences with: firstly, secondly, that’s why, in order to, finally). Don’t get too boring !
- Later, the recruiter will present you the topic in which you will eventually work on. At this moment you have to be very focused and try to pick up interesting questions for later. If the recruiter finished and you still don’t have any questions, then you are screwed !
Usually, the interview ends here. But some recruiters go further and carry on with some harder parts and questions like: “Tell me a moment in which you had to convince your team (for example which you made the P2M with) with your idea and how it went”. or “Tell me one obstacle that you have encountered during your project and that you succeeded to overcome with another solution”. Those are ones of the hardest questions in an interview. Ideally you should be prepared. But this happens very unlikely in an internship interview.
At the end of the interview, the recruiter will certainly ask you “Do you have any questions?” You must have at least one ! “Try something like how long it takes to process your application”…
It’s very normal to be stressed during the first interviews. Step by step, you will get used to it and after 2 to 3 ones, this will not bother you any more. You will be more experienced, you will be smarter with your answers and your behaviour, you will learn from your mistakes, you will become more confident.
I advise you to practise frequently at home. Stay in front of the mirror, turn on the recorder, speak then listen to yourself later, or give a try in front of a friend. It may be stupid, but believe me it really works and it really helps.
Good luck ENSIans ! :)