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Advice for internship interviews

  1. Jun 23, 2014 #1
    I have 2 interviews coming up this week for potential internships/co-ops, one for a solar company and the other at an electronics company. For one of the positions, a physics PhD will be interviewing me, while I am unaware who will be the interviewer for the other position.

    Any advice, tips, etc. especially for someone who comes from a physics background? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Think about what questions are you likely to be asked.
  4. Jun 23, 2014 #3


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    Do some research on what the different companies do. The last thing you want is to appear unprepared and uninterested.
  5. Jun 24, 2014 #4
    I definitely have a good grasp of what both do, seeing as I wrote comprehensive cover letters before applying for the positions.

    I'm just getting nervous about blowing it even though I don't have much of a reason to be at this point. I'm also not sure about the dress-code. From the profiles I've seen, it seems mostly business casual. Should I err on the side of caution and show up with a full suit? These types of simple questions could have likely been answered by the career center at my school, but they charge for these types of services and are rather useless in the grand scheme of things.
  6. Jun 24, 2014 #5


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    Good to hear that you are prepared.

    Wear a suit to the interview. You can't go wrong. No hiring manager has ever said "Gee, that candidate was overdressed!". Wearing a suit signals to the company that you are taking the interview seriously and you are at least marginally aware of social norms. I've always worn a suit to interviews, and never again at the companies I've worked at.

    Wear the suit.

    What is the job description? If it is a circuits job at the electronics company make sure you bone up on the basics. That's what trips people up. Also be able to describe in detail anything on your resume. I've deep-sixed several candidates after they couldn't explain work they had claimed to be involved with.

    Good luck!
  7. Jun 24, 2014 #6


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    One of the big things is know your resume!!!!

    Most of the interviews I've been on have gone like this
    1. introductions
    2. tell us about yourself
    3. i see from your resume that you do this _____, can you elaborate or tell us more.
    4. what if that system was changed slightly as seen here (interviewer draws a picture). how would you design the system?
    5. repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times

    In my experience there are 2 things that need to be accomplished in an interview.

    1. You prove to the interviewers that you can handle the work.
    you do this by expanding on past projects (most of which should be in a resume), expanding on leadership experiences, and experiences showing work ethic, intelligence, etc.

    2. You prove to the interviewers that you will will integrate with the culture/team/co-workers at the company
    you do this by making a personal connection (sports, hobbies, work interests, etc), being polite, and being professional. Note this doesn't mean you have to be an all-american, captain of the football team, lead singer, alter boy.

    Some people may look down on #2 and say it is not necessary for someone to do their job well. I partially disagree. While you can be the most introverted person in the world and still do well on the job, you need to communicate work items to your peers. That being said, if 2 people were equally skilled at their job, and I liked one and not the other, I would 100% want to work with the person I liked.
  8. Jun 25, 2014 #7
    I have only worn suits a few times in my life, and I think this might make me quite uncomfortable (especially the tie). I'm going to very keen of the dress code around when I first get there, and if I notice that it is very casual, then I'll try to lose the tie.

    I'm pretty good with the basics, so I'm not concerned about any technical questions. I'm more worried about being judged as not being a "good fit", as that seems to be a common reason why people don't make it past the interview stage.

    Thanks for the helpful advice and tips.
  9. Jun 25, 2014 #8


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    You might be able to get away without wearing a suit but you'll be taking a risk that some people will interpret your rejection of social norms as a signal that you're not taking the interview (nor the job) seriously or you think of yourself as "too cool for school". Neither of those interpretations will do you any favors regarding fit.

    I've only worn suits a few times in my life as well. Weddings and interviews. Maybe you can practice wearing one and doing technical problems in one.
  10. Jun 26, 2014 #9
    What do you mean by basics?
  11. Jun 26, 2014 #10


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    I mean the standard undergraduate fare of whatever field you're in.

    I'm an analog designer so when I interview candidates I have them analyze a simple transistor amplifier, draw a bias circuit they've designed, discuss the basic principles behind the bandgap reference, stuff like that. I ask very simple questions such as "if you increase the current in this device, how does the gain change?". I give them any equation they need so it is not about memorization. It is surprising how many people get advanced degrees without really knowing what they are doing. And to know what you're doing, make sure you have a strong intuitive grasp on the fundamentals of your field.
  12. Jun 27, 2014 #11
    One of the things I found helpful when I first started doing interviews is having a list of projects that you've worked on.
    I found I would stumble on the "Tell us about a time where ______________ "
    By having a handy list that I could quickly scan I was able to think of a relevant project situation.
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