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Interview Preparation: Tips from the Interns
By Mark McKown, AgCareers.com Marketing Intern

This summer I have the great opportunity to be serving as a marketing intern for AgCareers.com. This is my second internship outside of the school year and my first off-campus. I have had a great start to my summer and really enjoy the new and interesting projects that I am able to take on for the company. This never would have happened had I not been energetic and proactive to get involved, apply for the position and prepare myself for the interview. I am one of three interns, all of which had to go through an interview process to receive our respective positions.

AgCareers.com is employing three interns this summer: Susannah Morehead, Human Relations Intern; Elizabeth Stubbs, Sales and Project Management Intern; and myself, Mark McKown, Marketing Intern. There are three AgCareers.com offices in North America and each intern is stationed at one of the offices. We each have different supervisors and each interviewed with a different staff member. Yet, in looking at the way each of us prepared for our separate interviews, there are several similarities.

Interviewing for a position is generally expected, but rarely practiced until necessary. This is something echoed among most college students to career services representatives at postsecondary institutions everywhere. However, we the interns of AgCareers.com want to reach out to job-seekers and provide a practiced and successful perspective on preparing for an interview that resulted in being offered the job, more specifically the internship.

Listed below are some of the fundamental requirements to successfully prepare for a G.R.E.A.Tinterview.

G.OALS – The moment you are selected for an interview or notified of a company’s interest in you for a position, it is very important to set determined and achievable goals of information that should be covered during the interview. Some important information to cover when setting these goals includes: do you honestly want the position? What do you wish to take from the potential experience? Where do your strengths lie? How is your weakness something you can use as a potential benefit to the business? Also, be sure to include unique and personal information that relate to you and help you stand out.

R.ESOURCES - Outline and indentify both traditional and non-traditional resources available to gain greater information for an interview. Traditional resources include: career services at the college-level, or publications in the company’s line of work (i.e. - magazines, specific writings from the company, etc.). These are useful tools to incorporate during interviews to provide information relevant to the company. Susannah took advantage of a non-traditional resource that turned out to be extremely helpful in preparing for and being offered the interview! She chose to meet with various professors that she had connected with throughout the school year to find possible means of future employment. This was a simple and easy way to prepare at her college’s campus. One of those visits laid the ground work for her current job this summer with AgCareers.com. In using this resource she firstly-found a publication of AgCareers.com that aided in learning more about the business and some of its functions for a possible future interview; secondly- had her resume passed on to our President Mr. Eric Spell which yielded to networking and added critique both of her resume and information to support and provide in an interview; thirdly-was offered an interview by her current supervisor. Now this is a very coincidental experience and very atypical, but illustrates the power of using those professors and non-traditional resources so readily available. Other examples Susannah noted was that she brought with her to the interview: copies of the internship description and copies of her unofficial transcript.

E.NERGY– Energy can be expressed to business representatives and professionals throughout your career both during and after college to allow you opportunities otherwise unavailable. Personally, I have always been a very optimistic and energetic person. Nervous and intimidated usually do not describe my personality. I try to display this energy through an interview and in preparing. My energetic preparation for my current position goes back to an agronomy symposium where I had not intended to receive any internship information let alone take the beginning steps in preparing for my interview, but still took the initiative and welcomed the opportunity when presented with one. I met an AgCareers.com representative at this symposium and then a month or so later ran into the same representative at a different conference, reconnected and applied for my current internship position. In using my energy to make that first connection I was able to relate to the company, gain necessary background knowledge on the company, and apply what I learned at each of the conferences to my application; constantly developing for success in the interview.

A.NALYZE– When applying for a position be aware that before a face-to-face interview is scheduled there may be a few more steps involved. Elizabeth notes that when she was preparing for the interview there were a few other procedures she was not expecting to go through. Her supervisor sent out an initial email with screening questions and later conducted a phone interview prior to interviewing students face-to-face. Elizabeth had not been required to complete such requirements prior to this position and spent a lot of time analyzing her answers and developing thoughtful insight. She prepared by thinking through the entire situation. With the screening questions she drafted up responses to be proofread by friends and family; with the phone interview she found a quiet space to talk with the interviewer and had her resume, internship description, and potential questions to ask displayed before her to cover all her bases. Through analyzing the unknown Elizabeth was able to successfully prepare herself.

T.IMING- In today’s fast paced culture, it is very important to be punctual and timely when dealing with situations in a professional environment. Be sure that when preparing for an interview everything is taken into account: amount of time necessary to get ready, what materials to reference one last time; phone interview- am I somewhere that is quiet, do I have materials I want to look over during the interview, etc. In properly answering these questions, allocations can be made to certain activities and scheduling can be simplified. Through taking the time to identify and develop need for a timely schedule you will not only impress the interviewer but display respect.

General Interviewing Tips from Susannah, Elizabeth, and Mark:

  • Dress Appropriately-Make sure that you dress nicer than you would every day to work. Display a presence of intelligence and confidence in your outfit (ex. suits, ties, and non-revealing shirts/skirts).
  • Maintain eye contact during the interview.
  • Include a little intelligent humor to show you are more than just a resume.
  • Keep an open mind to go with the flow of an unexpected situation: not being offered a hand shake because they are sick, multiple interviewers, phone or video interview rather than face to face.