interview-in-progressCongratulations! You’ve been invited to interview for the summer marketing internship you’ve had your eye on. You’re very excited about the interview and prospect of an exciting summer internship. The interview is Wednesday. Today is Monday, so you have a few days to rest easy before you’re on the hot seat, right?

Not really.

You’ve got some homework to do. Interviewing is more than showing up to answer questions. You will be presenting yourself as a whole package, and it’s vital that you are prepared right down to the last detail. That means planning everything from what to wear to what to do when the interview is over.

Keep the following in mind as you plan. The extra effort you put in will make you a standout candidate.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW – Do Your Homework & Plan Your Day

*Research the organization. Check the company website and other online resources for information. Find out whatever you can. Become an expert. Take notes about anything you think is important or interesting.

*Bring an up-to-date resume.

*Prepare a few questions to ask at the interview such as What are some tasks or responsibilities I can expect? and What are some expectations set for me as an intern? Do not ask What time is lunch? or Where is the vending machine?

*Practice answering interview questions. Research some common questions interviewers may ask and formulate your answers to those questions. Ask a friend or parent to help you. Pay $5 to a sibling to listen to you. Practice speaking in front of the mirror.

*Dress appropriately. Google what business attire looks like. Generally, if it’s too short, too revealing, too small, or has any writing on it, don’t wear it. No jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, or tank tops. Don’t wear shoes with really high heels (no matter how well you think you walk in them).

*Groom! Comb it, wash it, brush it, tuck it, or iron it. Go easy on fragrance (or better yet, use none).

*Check the time and place of the interview. Be sure you have the phone number. Confirm the name of the person you plan to meet. Then check it all again. Write it down or put a note in your phone. Put a sticky note on the car dashboard (or your forehead).

*Get directions. Use GPS or that flat, paper thing called a road map. Find a train schedule if you’re using transit. Find out how long will it take to get there. Then add an hour to the travel time. A big time cushion is your friend in case you get lost or stuck in traffic. Find out where to park and how much it costs. If it’s raining, take an umbrella. No one wants you dripping on their office floor.

DURING THE INTERVIEW – You’re There. Now What?

*Put your phone away. AWAY. It should be on silent and out of sight. Turn off vibration mode – we can still hear it. It’s annoying.

*Greet the interviewer with enthusiasm. Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands. Use his or her name. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Smith. Thank you so much for meeting with me.” Always use Mr. or Ms. with the person’s last name. Don’t call Mr. Smith Chuck unless he has specifically told you to do so. Don’t call him that especially if it’s not his name.

*Try not to fidget. Sit up straight. Quick trick: If you’re wearing a jacket, sit on the hem of it to force your shoulders back. Practice this first at home to avoid a whiplash incident during the interview.

*Listen carefully! If you don’t hear or understand a question, don’t panic. It’s okay to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or to clarify it. You might say, “Could you please repeat the question?” or “I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that question, can you explain what you mean?” Avoid asking, “Huh?” and expecting a reply (you won’t get one).

*Sometimes people rush when they’re nervous. A common occurrence is the mouth-ahead-of-the-brain syndrome. That’s when you start speaking but realize you don’t really know what you’re saying. Your brain yells, What are you doing? Stop! Wait for me!” while your mouth keeps running. If this happens to you, stop. Relax. Start over. It’s perfectly okay to take a moment or two to gather your thoughts and start over.

*Be present and engaged. Not every story or piece of information being conveyed to you is mind blowing or even interesting. That’s okay. But it’s not okay to look bored or annoyed. Plus you might miss a very important piece of information (like where the vending machine is).

*Be yourself. Let your personality shine through.

*When the interview is over, thank the interviewer for his or her time and then send a written thank you noteimmediately.

Good luck!