Here’s how to nail the job interview

June 7, 2022

Tips for students to get the job without any experience!

When it comes to work experience, we all start at zero. So while it’s natural to feel under-qualified for just about any internship or summer job, the hiring managers aren’t expecting the world from you. In fact, they’re probably hiring you because you’re more affordable and they can quickly train you. 

By all means take job interviews seriously! But with the right amount of focused preparation, you don’t need the stress to keep you up at night. 

5 things you MUST DO to prepare for an interview

For in-person and remote interviews, there are some basic steps you should take to prepare. There’s no reason to leave everything to chance. If you really want to nail the interview for a summer job or internship, start with these basics.

Dress appropriately for the job.

This is advice that will hold true forever and always. Part of you will want to wear whatever you feel like, maybe telling yourself it shouldn’t matter. But wardrobe and basic hygiene matter a great deal. A lawn service interview will look much different than a biotech research internship. Your appearance should not distract the interviewer in any way.

Know the hours you’re able to work.

You’d be shocked how many times a hiring manager asks about a student’s schedule, and the student says “I’ll have to check and get back to you.” Wrong answer! First, understand that you need to be flexible for internships and summer jobs. But second, know your general availability ahead of time. Will any other jobs or vacations impact your schedule? Come prepared to be hired.

Be ready for the strengths & weaknesses question.

These are inevitable. Sometimes the interviewer sounds uncomfortable or robotic asking, because they sound like “necessary evil” questions. But here’s what employers want to know: Is this candidate a good fit for my company? That’s it, they’re not trying to be a therapist. So have a story lined up about a strength and a weakness, each giving some insight into you as a human.

Read recent blogs and social media posts from the organization.

Companies publish what they believe is important for the world to know about them. If you’re applying for a position related to a field of work you might pursue after graduation, then this is extra beneficial for you. Read the organization’s most recent blog posts and bios of team leaders. Then go over to LinkedIn and see what articles they’re sharing. This will give you good insight for asking questions during the interview.

Arrive early, whether the interview is IRL or URL.

“Their office is only 5 minutes away” is a dangerous thing to say as you’re scrolling through Instagram at home. Give yourself more than enough time to be comfortably seated in the organization’s waiting room. Assume traffic jams and all the lights will be red. Prepare for a slog and you’ll be on time. If you’re attending an online interview, log in a few minutes early. This will pleasantly surprise the interviewer. 

3 things that will make you STAND OUT during the interview

Let’s go one step further. Here’s how to really stand out from all those other applicants who do their basic homework! 

Deliver a memorable elevator pitch.

Know your personal story. “Tell me about yourself” is the most common opening question and also least prepared for question. Take the time to write, rehearse, and then deliver a 30-second elevator pitch. They already know a little about you based on your application, so take this opportunity to make yourself more than one of the hundreds of similar candidates. The best elevator pitch is one that makes them think “this person is a great fit” before you’ve gotten into any type of discussion. If you’ve already built a student portfolio, it’ll be much easier to prepare a solid response because you’ve already been tracking what makes you unique.

Ask questions that show you understand what the employer is looking for.

Hiring managers and business owners are busy people, and the last thing you want to do is waste their time. Understand what the employer is looking for in this internship or summer job. And if it’s a good fit and you’re invited to interview, then go prepared with at least one question that shows you’ve thought about the role. This is a great way to demonstrate you take the work seriously, and might be a good long-term employee.

Describe your goals in a way that connects to the job description.

An employer prefers hiring someone who wants to work for them. Sounds obvious, but some interviewees leave an impression that they’re just looking for a paycheck. Come up with a way to briefly describe your goals for the next few years in a way that relates to this job. Even if you don’t know the employees yet, the employer will understand that hiring you is mutually beneficial. 

Do you need help with your student portfolio?

If you’re stuck and need some help crafting a personal statement, or just aren’t sure what type of experiences should go in a student portfolio, let us know. Send a note to and we can schedule a mentoring session.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of articulating how your passions and experiences translate to the workplace. Good luck in those summer interviews! 

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