Top 10 Tips To Ace Your Canadian Internship Interview

November 16, 2015
Posted in How To Guide, Study & Work


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Are you ready to start interviewing for a Professional Internship in Canada through our Internship Programs or Education Programs? Do you have little experience with interviewing professionally? Have you never interviewed for a professional job or an internship before? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, don’t hesitate! If you are coming to Canada via an International Co-op Visa to participate in our Internship Programs then your interviews will be online on Skype (with more Skype specific advice found here). If you are a student in one of our Education Programs then you will be doing your internship interviews in-person. Our professional and experienced Placement Coordinators here at Stepwest are ready to give you advice, answer your questions, and provide you with a guide before you start interviewing. They will be sure that you are ready to impress during your interview. But in any case, here is some extra information with tips and tricks that apply to most types of interviews out there to help you do your best!

1. Do Your Research On The Company

Doing your research on the company you’re applying to is an incredibly important step. Imagine interviewing someone, and then realizing that they know nothing about the company, what the business does, or the actual position. It doesn’t exactly give you a good impression of the potential intern. So be sure to do your research on the Internet. Use your search engines and look up what the company does, a little bit of history (How did it start? Who started it?), and some current information like industry news on the company, and more. An excellent resource would be the company’s official website and social media channels.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Interviewing, along with anything else in life, becomes easier the more you practice. So make sure that you’re prepared for your next internship interview by practicing beforehand. This can be done many different ways, whether in front of a mirror by yourself or with a friend or family member. Try to brainstorm potential questions by yourself and then with someone else. Then think about how you would go about answering that question. Excellent resources can be found online such as Forbe’s 50 Most Common Interview Questions.

3. Prepare For Behavioral Questions

We’ve had many students experience trouble when answering those tougher, behavioral questions during their internship or professional interviews. It can be difficult to go through your memory and try to come up with examples during your previous work experiences that answer behavioral questions well. You may not be sure which example to use, and you may not be sure how much detail to actually go into. This is why it’s very important to take some time out during your practice to think back to your own experiences and prepare, in a way, examples that you would use for common behavioral questions. A good method to help you answer these questions would be the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). For a detailed explanation and examples of how to use the STAR method, along with sample questions, you can visit this excellent Bookboon article 19 Behavioural Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.

4. Review Your Resume

This sounds like a simple tip, but it’s just as important as anything else on this list. Your resume is most likely often updated with new experiences and skills that you’ve gained. Our Placement Coordinators at Stepwest will go over your initial resume and revise and format it to make sure that what you’ve written matches North American resume standards. After that, you will be given a new copy of your updated resume for your records. With that being said, it’s important that you sit down and read over your own resume at least once before your internship interview. Take note of the changes that were made, previous roles you’ve had, what you did in those positions, and be aware of the start and end dates on a general basis. That way if an interviewer asks you to explain your resume or asks you something about anything listed, you’ll be familiar with it.

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5. Dress Professionally

The way you dress to your internship interview says a lot about you as a person and a potential worker. Make sure that you show respect to your interviewer by dressing appropriately. This applies for both in-person and Skype interviews. Generally, this means that you would dress more formal than their typical company dress code. A good rule of thumb to go by would be to dress one “level” above what current employees usually wear to work. For example, if you are interviewing at a tech start-up and the dress code is casual, then it would generally be a good idea to dress business casual or smart casual. If the usual dress code is business casual at a company, then it is probably in your best interest to dress business formal. A good resource to look at would be Business Insider’s guide to interview attire found here. Remember, when in doubt it’s always better to show up a little overdressed than to be caught underdressed.

6. Bring Extra Copies Of Your Documents

If you are doing an in-person interview through one of our Education Programs, be sure to remember to bring extra copies of your resume to your internship interview. As well, don’t forget to bring your portfolio if you’re interviewing for a creative position or if the company requires it. Depending on the position you’re applying to, it may be a good idea to bring a writing sample as well. Acceptable writing samples can include previous academic essays or reports you’ve written for school.

If you are doing a Skype interview through one of our Internship Programs, be sure to have on hand links to your portfolio and word documents or pdfs of your writing samples ready on your computer desktop. That way, you will be ready to send them to your potential employer over Skype during your online interview.

7. Prepare Questions

As you research about the company and the position a bit more, be sure to write down a list of questions that you would like to ask your interviewer at the end of your interview. Under no circumstance should you ever say that you do not have any questions. Think of at least 5-6 questions if case some of them are actually answered during the interview. Write your questions down in a small notebook. Bring your notebook along with a pen to the interview so you can jot down any important information. This shows the interviewer that you are well prepared and serious about the internship. Although you may ask anything you think is reasonable and related to the job or company, one question we recommend everybody to ask at the end of every interview is “What does the hiring timeline look like for this position?”. This is just so you know when you can expect to hear back.

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8. Don’t Be Late!

Even if you’re the perfect internship candidate with the exact experience and skill set that the employer is looking for, if you show up late to your interview, then all of your qualifications could mean nothing. There’s nothing worse than being late because it shows poor time management and a general lack of respect for the company and the person that is interviewing you. So, make sure that you know where you’re going. Get the exact address of the office or building and note it down on a piece of paper to take with you. Look up exact directions on Google Maps or a regular map. Look at alternate routes that you may take as well. And finally, make sure you leave the house early! Opt for around 30 minutes or so. In case of traffic jams, accidents, or delays on the road, you will have excess time to deal with issues. If everything goes well and you show up very early, that’s great! Instead of going into the office where they may not be ready for you, head to a nearby coffee shop or a seating area in a lobby and sit, review your questions and resume, and calm your pre-interview jitters.

And for Skype appointments, be sure of a few things before you start. Make sure that you have your potential employer added as a contact on Skype early on before the internship interview. Log on, make sure you are online early and send them a message to let them know that you are available and ready to start when they are. 5-10 minutes before the scheduled interview time, send them a message long the lines of: “Hi Mr. Smith. This is Julia Fraser. We have a Skype interview scheduled for 3:00pm PST today. I’d just like to let you know that I’m online now and ready to start when you are. Thank you!”.

9. Smile And Be Friendly

Although an internship interview is generally a serious meeting, it is still important to remember to smile. When you greet your interviewer, smile and give a firm handshake. Although the interviewer is looking to see if your skills and experience match their needs, they are also looking to see if you are a cultural fit for their team. In a way, they are also hiring you as a person as well. So, remember to come off as someone who is friendly, easygoing, and relaxed. It’s okay to laugh a bit if the interviewer seems relaxed too and is also laughing. Another important reminder for those doing an in-person interview is to also be friendly to those around you in the office, especially the receptionist. These people will more likely than not be asked for their impression of you once you leave the interview.

10. Follow Up And Express Gratitude 

You’ve aced that interview and you feel like the hiring manager also really liked you as a person. Now you sit back and wait for them to notify you, right? No. While our Placement Coordinators will do a general follow up to ask how the interview went from both your and the employer’s perspective, something a lot of internship candidates forget to do for their Canadian internship interviews is to actually send a thank you note afterwards. It used to be that thank you letters where actually mailed to the office. However, now times have changed and it is much less common to mail a letter. It’s now more common to send a short thank you email to your interviewer. So make sure you get his or her business card or email address and write a short email that: thanks them for their time, re-states your interest, and mentions 2-3 points that were brought up during your conversation. Proofread your email and run it through spell check to avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes. Send it within 24 hours of your interview.

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Bonus Tip: Be Prepared For The Occasional Odd/Trick Question

Although in most internship interviews you will be asked a series of very standard questions, some interviewers like to see how you respond to random questions. Their purpose is to simply see how well you think on your feet and how you problem solve. An example would be “Tell me your funniest joke”. You can’t really prepare for these, but it’s a good idea to at least know you may be asked these types of questions so you don’t get caught off guard.

Conclusion

Follow these tips, practice, and head on into your internship interview with confidence. Even if you don’t land an internship on your first try, don’t give up and keep trying! Ready to start YOUR internship abroad experience in Canada? If you are from one of the 32 International Experience Canada Recognized countries, you can land yourself a Canadian Internship with one of our Internship Programs. We offer resume revision, interview practices, and on-going professional support. Stepwest guarantees a Canadian Internship placement or your money back! If you are from any other country and would still like to come to Canada for a work and study experience, don’t fret – be sure to check out our various Education Programs like Business Essentials and College & Internshipwhich are open to all international participants!

 

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