7 interview tips for landing your dream internship or co-op

After preparing your resume and submitting applications, you’ve done it. You’ve landed an interview for your dream co-op or internship. What’s next? Nailing the interview process will ensure you get the offer you’ve worked so hard to receive.

A positive interview experience can be the determining factor between landing your ideal co-op or internship or not. Feel more confident in your interview by following these seven key tips.

  • Do your research and come prepared for the interview.
  • Practice in the weeks leading up to the interview.
  • Make sure you bring what you need.
  • Showcase your best attributes.
  • Exude confidence and practice honesty.
  • Ask questions.
  • Show your gratitude.

1. Come Prepared.

Show that you’re eager to work for a company by doing research about it prior to your interview. You should treat the interview like it’s for a full-time position after college. After all, internships, cooperative education and the connections you make now can lead to a successful post-graduate career. Not only should you know what the internship or co-op work will entail, but you should research the company’s mission, values and any recent projects or noteworthy work that has been shared in the media in recent weeks and months. Take some looking over the company or organization’s website, and take notes on information that stands out to you or any questions you may have. Doing this type of research will give you the confidence you need to nail the interview, while also showing that you take the time to go the extra mile.

2. Practice in the weeks leading up to the interview.

Preparing and practicing your answers to interview questions ahead of time is one of the most valuable things you can do to prepare for an interview. You want to make sure your answers demonstrate that you are a qualified candidate by connecting your answers back to your skills and previous experience. You can ask a friend or classmate to run through a “mock interview” with you, or take advantage of the Bearcats Career Studio. From online tools to mock interviews with a professional career coach, UC has a variety of resources to help you prepare.

Some likely questions that could be asked include:

  • Why are you interested in this co-op or internship?
  • Tell me about yourself. What skills and attributes make you a good fit for this role?
  • What’s a challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
  • Tell us about a project or piece of work that you are proud of. What challenges or obstacles did you face to meet success?
  • What do you hope to gain from this internship?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What plans do you have after college?

3. Bring what you need.

Show you’re prepared and organized by bringing what you need to the interview and arriving early. What should you wear to an interview? You should err on the side of caution and dress in business attire, whether the interview is in person or via Zoom or video conferencing. You should also have your resume, cover letter and portfolio ready to share with the interviewer. Even if you have shared that information with an interviewer before, it’s better to be prepared by bringing it with you. You might also benefit from bringing a notebook to your interview so that you can take notes about anything the interviewer shares with you.

two women reviewing papers

4. Showcase your best attributes.

When you show up to the interview, be prepared to share what makes you so unique and equipped to take on this internship and co-op. Come prepared with three examples of “success moments” for yourself. Whether it’s a project that you’re proud of or an example of a time you showed leadership, an interview is an opportunity to share the best qualities you have. For example, if you’re interviewing for a graphic design interview, you might share about a time that your work was published in the student newspaper. Think about examples and experiences that you’ve had that relate well to the listed job description.

5. Exude confidence and practice honesty.

Go into the interview with confidence. Show enthusiasm for the position, and let the employer know that you’re a person who will add to a positive work culture. You should see yourself as an asset to the organization. You should also practice honesty throughout the co-op or internship interview. Don’t lie and say you have a skillset that you don’t have. You can always say, “I don’t have that skill set yet, but I’m an eager learner and always willing to put in the work to grow.” It’s better to be honest than to show up on the first day without the skills to complete your workload at your internship or co-op.

6. Ask questions.

At the end of the process, an interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions for them. Some questions might naturally come to you throughout the interview. Jot those down in the notebook you have so you can remember to ask them at the end. Some questions you can ask include:

  • How would you measure success in this role?
  • Do many interns come to work at your organization full-time after graduation?
  • What would my work look like on a daily and weekly basis?
  • How would you describe the work culture here?
  • What do you love most about this job and company?
  • What’s next in the process and do you need any additional information from me?

7. Show your gratitude.

Regardless of how you think the interview went, you should follow up to thank the interviewer. A short email or phone call after your co-op or internship interview will show that you appreciate their time and work. You can take the opportunity to also share your portfolio or work with them one last time. Showing gratitude and respect to this person will show that you are already a professional.