How to successfully navigate applications
One of the hardest parts of being a penultimate year student is juggling applications for internships alongside academic studies. Having just been through this process, I wanted to share my journey and also some top tips on how to survive this time-consuming task successfully! In this first post I will talk about the general process and my top tips!
The general steps in the application process
- Online Application – This usually involves providing your personal details, answering some questions about your motivations for this career, listing your previous work experiences. Sometimes you will be asked to provide a CV and cover letter
- Online Assessments – Either with your application or sometimes if you make it through the first round, you will be asked to complete some online assessments. These are usually:
- Numerical – testing you ability to work with numbers
- Verbal – true/false questions based on articles and blocks of text
- Situation Judgement – arguably the toughest of the lot, this tests how you would react in different workplace situations
- Coding – depending on the type of internship you are applying for you may also have to complete a coding task
- Telephone/Video Interview – If successful you will then probably be invited to complete a first round interview. This will either be through an automated video interview system, where your record your answers to the questions. Or you could have someone from the company call you to ask some questions usually lasting 25-30 mins. This first interview will usually consist of questions about your career aspirations, what skills you have and basically giving you a chance to showcase your strengths.
- Final Round Interview/Assessment Centre – Finally you will be invited into the office! If you are called in for an assessment centre then it would usually be with other candidates. You will be given some group tasks and also an interview. Alternatively some companies might just call you in for an interview. This could be more technical than the phone/video interview in previous rounds.
My Top Tips
- Start early, sort your CV out the summer before and then apply as soon as they open
- Apply to more than you think you’ll need as this will ensure you find something
- Email smaller companies and startups as back ups or look for a UROP
- Don’t take rejections personally, its not that you’re not good enough, its just that they might’ve been looking for a particular type of person or skill
- Don’t compare. Some companies wait a while before sorting through applications, you’re still in the running until you hear otherwise!
- Keep a detailed spreadsheet, including the date you applied, that you regularly update listing how far you are in the application process for each internship
- Have a standard Cover Letter for each industry that can be tweaked for the company, this will save time instead of writing a new one each time
Getting through an Interview
- Make sure you have researched the company and have answers prepared to all standard questions
- Have some key facts you like or can relate to about the company
- Have scenarios ready to answer any questions about leadership, conflict and others
- Make sure you know your CV/application answers inside out
- Find out how to get to the office and have a back up plan incase there are problems on the day, plan to arrive at least 20 minutes early
At the Interview
- If you’re more than 15 minutes early to the office, take a walk around the block or grab a quick coffee
- Arrive at the building and find out where you need to go, (now’s a good time to go to the loo if you need to)
- When you meet the interviewer, shake their hand firmly and say good morning, remember they are judging you from the moment they meet you
- If they make small talk before in the journey to the interview, remember to be insightful and reflect the person you are in your answers
- If they ask you to tell you a little bit about yourself, don’t just rattle off your cover letter. Think about what points relate to this company and industry, try to sell yourself, explain how these experiences could help you in the internship
- Think of the interview as a two way conversation
- ALWAYS ask questions at the end of the interview, standard ones can include asking about the next steps in the application process, asking if you seem to have the right attributes for this role, or asking the interviewer about their career
- At the end of the interview thank them for their time and ask who you can be expected to hear from them, this shows your keenness for the company
So these are some of the tips that helped get me through this application period and I hope they’ll help you too.
Stay tuned for my next blog post about my own trials and tribulations of finding an internship.