Your dream internship is perhaps a phone call away. Follow these tips to prepare for and ace the phone interview.
When I began the application process for my semester in Washington, D.C., I was dead set on the internship site I wanted. I was thrilled when I got that long awaited email from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: We’d like to interview you for this position.
The first time I had done a phone interview for an internship was last summer. I struggled with not being able to “read” the interviewer. It was tough. I rely heavily on non-verbal language during interviews to read and react to the interviewer. Without those cues, you have to make sure you’re prepared.
I’ll be honest, I was incredibly nervous for my interview with the Kennedy Center. I waited for my phone to ring, picked up immediately and accidentally dropped the call. I thought I blew my chance at a good first impression, but I was letting myself overthink. Fortunately, they called back right away and it helped break the ice.
So, how did I build from that start and ensure a stellar phone interview with my dream internship?
Take a deep breath and smile. Your interviewer can definitely sense if you’re confident and happy to be speaking with them. Listen to your favorite playlist, eat your favorite food or take your dog for a walk beforehand – whatever puts you in a good mood! Writing out why I felt so strongly about working at the Kennedy Center helped me feel confident in the interview.
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York. I had opportunities to engage with the arts, but nothing to the extent of what the Kennedy Center offers. Also, I’ve always loved history, and the Kennedy Center is a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. These were aspects I included in my why I wanted to work there.
Research, research and more research. Weaving in your knowledge of the organization throughout the interview shows that you’re a serious candidate. Your time to shine in an interview happens if you’re asked what you know about the organization or if you have any questions for the interviewer.
I scoured the Kennedy Center’s website, social media and press releases to be knowledgeable about its current events and achievements. The fall was quite a busy time at the Kennedy Center, so there was a lot of news to catch up on. I interviewed in November, around the time the Kennedy Center celebrated the opening of its first addition, The REACH, with a 16-day festival in September. By addressing that in the interview, it showed that I knew the Kennedy Center’s major news.
Your time to shine in an interview happens if you’re asked what you know about the organization or if you have any questions for the interviewer.Kassidy Berger
If possible, find out who you will be interviewing with. It’s good to have specific questions ready that relate to this person’s job or role within the organization. For example:
- How do you expect your intern to communicate with you?
- Are there opportunities for feedback on projects?
- Why did you choose to work at this organization?
- What skills do you expect your intern to have in order to be successful?
In my phone interview, I asked about the structure of the department and delegation of responsibilities. I had three interviewers for this call, which I wasn’t expecting. This led me to think of new follow-up questions, including how public relations interacts with other departments.
Follow the flow of the conversation. Don’t feel as if you need to stick to your prepared questions if you think of something on the spot!
In my case, one of my interviewers was a former intern herself. I then asked more questions about her experience rather than moving on to a new subject. Active listening is important. It will especially be once you land the internship.
Lastly, make sure to follow up with a “thank you” email that addresses all of your interviewers, if possible. Restate your interest, your why. Also, consider asking what the next steps are in the application process or what their timeline is for notifying candidates.
I discussed TWC requirements at the end of my phone interview. However, I wish I had reiterated these over email for the sake of clarity. I encourage you to be vocal throughout the application process. You are your greatest advocate.
You aren’t in this alone. Your TWC internship advisor is your supporter. If there’s a site that you have a serious interest in, let them know early on. You never know what connections TWC may have. With the advice of my internship advisor, I applied to the Kennedy Center, and roughly three months later, my gut feeling has paid off.
Remember these tips and you will nail your interview. Everyone gets nervous about interviews, but this is an opportunity to showcase everything you have worked towards. After all, your dream internship is perhaps a phone call away.
About the AuthorMore Content by Kassidy Berger