Internship Abroad: Tips For Your Interview

by John Kyle de Guzman

Interning abroad is a great opportunity for any individuals who want to enhance their resume and create an international network in their specific field. With relevant work experience, looking for a job can be a breeze, however getting an internship to provide that experience can be difficult. The internship hiring process can consist of multiple stages and a good deal of research that can be heaven or hell for some individuals. 

Bored is Never A Good Emotion to Portray. Photo by John Kyle de Guzman
Bored is Never A Good Emotion to Portray. Photo by John Kyle de Guzman

First and foremost, the company will eliminate a huge number of applicants based on their resume alone. Once a group of qualified individuals are chosen, the next task will be the daunting interview to decide who makes the cut. Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, whether for an internship or a real job. But if well prepared, confident, knowledgeable, and truly interested in the position then the interview will be nothing other than a stepping stone to success.

How To Prepare

To prepare for an interview, it is always important to start off with a proper mindset. Treat this interview like any job interview. You never know, this might be the only chance you’ll get.

Research the Company. Researching the company and the nature of the internship that you’ll be undertaking is a critical step in preparing. Take time to surf the company’s website or scan through news articles. Get as many details as you can and be ready to share with the employer your knowledge about the company. There’s nothing that impresses an interviewer more than someone who shows a real interest in the company and its goals. 

Prepare for Questions. Prepare for the most common interview questions.

  • Why do you want an internship with this company? (Don’t say your Mom made you!)
  • What do you think makes you a good candidate? (Don’t say you aren’t sure!)
  • What do you think you will gain from an internship with this company? (Don’t say spending money!)
  • How does this internship relate to your career goals? (Don’t say it doesn’t!)

Some questions are unpredictable, but preparing for this standard set can help immensely. Remember these tips when practicing:

  • Don’t say um, hmmm, you know, or other fillers when speaking
  • Check your pace, nerves may result in flying through responses
  • Present your answers in ways that can help them see your strengths
A guy in a casual attire

What To Wear

First impressions last and nothing’s worse than arriving at an interview either underdressed or overdressed. Your appearance represents your attitude and interviewers observe this very carefully.

General Rules: 

  • Wear professional attire, conservative yet comfortable 
  • Avoid clothing that is too tight or revealing
  • Double check for any stains or wrinkles 
  • Make sure your nails are impeccable
  • Limit yourself to one or two standout pieces at most (funky glasses, chunky bracelet, large necklace, bright shoes. etc.)
  • Always take the company into account when determining your outfit 

What To Bring

Employers like to have a lot of information in their hands and bringing your work can help them appreciate your initiative. This is especially important for internships in the arts, editing, or advertising that require samples for effective evaluation. Provide links to a professional profile, portfolio, or blog on your resume if possible, but a printed example they can actually hold will help them remember you and take time to look at your work right away. 

If you don’t have anything to physically show then don’t worry. The idea of an internship is to gain experience and employers understand this. Some will test your skills by assigning a fictional assignment or project and asking you how you would go about completing it. Take this opportunity to prove yourself worthy of hiring.

ALWAYS Prepare Your Own Questions 

Asking questions is a sign of an employee with potential and insight. This will show how diligent you are in making sure that the internship will meet your needs as well as the company’s. It is a great time to show off your research. Here are some good examples: 

  • What will my daily tasks include?
  • What is the company’s philosophy behind hiring interns?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • What is the most rewarding aspect of working for the company?
  • Will there be opportunities to expand my responsibilities with the company?

Interview Time

This is what we’ve been preparing for. It’s game time! Bring a copy of your resume and review it if you have some extra time in the waiting room. This will help you provide accurate and smooth transitions during the interview and think of likely questions. Also, bring a pen and paper just in case you need to write a note to yourself.

Interviews can come in different settings. From an informal setting involving a simple question and answer session to a presentation for a panel of interviewers, individuals should be prepared for anything that may be thrown at them. Most importantly, interviewees must keep their composure at all times. In addition to these, the interview may also include aptitude tests and group activities to assess the individual’s current skills.

People having an interview

Body Language. In an interview, nonverbal communication can provide either a positive or negative impact on interviewers first impressions of an interviewee. You should be aware of your constant body gestures and minimize any mannerisms that may portray the wrong thing to your potential employers. Be careful of unconscious habits, they can really stick out and distract from what you are saying.

Avoid the following negative body language at all costs:

  • Crossing Your Arms-This shows Defensiveness
  • Rubbing Eyes or Nose-This shows a hint of Doubt
  • Feet Tapping, Looking Down, Slouching-This shows Boredom
  • Fidgeting, Playing with Hair, Biting Nails, Uneasiness-This shows that you Lack in Confidence / Nervousness
  • Brisk and Erect Walk, Hands Clasped Behind Head-This shows Overconfidence 
  • Banging Fists in Tables and Pointing-This shows Aggression

With ying comes yang, positive body language should be incorporated:

  • Smile-This shows Interest and Friendliness
  • Eye Contact-This conveys Confidence and Trust but don’t overdo it, this creates awkwardness
  • Firm Handshake-Too firm suggests arrogance, too limp implies weakness
  • Chin Up-This shows Attentiveness
  • Touching Fingertips Together-This shows Sense of Authority
  • Palms Visible-This shows Sincerity and Approachability

Sell yourself. Have self confidence and show the interviewers that you are right for the internship. If you do, then they will believe you. Never look for the perfect answer but instead be honest and sincere at all times; this will avoid interviewers becoming suspicious of your truthfulness. Companies would rather hire interns who are aware of their faults than those who appear perfect yet inconspicuous.

Discuss Everything. Financial problems, time constraints, or any personal issues, these are often overlooked by individuals, during an interview, who are too scared to end the interview with a bad impression. But little do they know that employers appreciate individuals who address their concerns at the earliest point in time - it shows candidness. Doing so will save you from embarrassment and awkwardness when having to reveal your issues after you’ve already been hired. Employers will understand the position you are in and see that no matter what issues you are dealing with, you are interested in attaining the internship.


Ending the Interview

Remember, depending how you end the interview, you will either help or hurt your chances of getting the internship. At this point in the interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. Ask the questions you’ve prepared and this will show how interested and how enthusiastic you are for the role. After this, considered the most important yet overlooked piece of an interview, say thank you. It doesn’t have to be long but thank your interviewers for their time, consideration, and the opportunity. Reiterate why you’d like the position and stress your best qualities. Then, all you have to do is wait for the call or email of their decision.

After the Interview

Still didn’t hear from the company within the specified time they gave you? Don’t fret, this is the perfect time to call them and politely inquire whether a decision has been made. If it has and you were hired, then a congratulations is due. But if not, then it is important not to become depressed about it. Learn from the experience and use it to develop your interview skills moving forward. You never know, there may be another internship around the corner waiting that is the best one for you.

Find an internship abroad that is perfect for you now!