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How should I handle upcoming interview?

  1. May 8, 2014 #1
    I have an interview for a summer internship position. I'm studying Industrial Engineering but even though the company is well know and has distinctive departments it had almost nothing displayed on the ad about the position itself. They are just looking for motivated people who would take responsibility as a project leader, have business ideas and capable of handling Excel and Powerpoint.
    I'm afraid it is more serious than it looks because I did not just send an email with my CV attached, they actually had an application procedure.
    How do I handle the interview with so little information to prepare for? Honestly, I'm just a clueless student who'd like to see the industry in action, gain some experience and not waste another summer. Even more, I'm extremely academically successful but have no experience in taking up a project or team leading. It seems that university actually is more than just studying well. What if they ask me about my recent experience as a project leader? Should I be honest about this?
     
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  3. May 8, 2014 #2

    jedishrfu

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    Do your homework look up info on the company. What do they make? what consulting do they do? Are they in the news? Whats their stock like?

    Find someone who works there or has worked there or even who has interned there. Perhaps one of the department professors knows of a student who interned there in years past.

    Next review your CV and make sure you can explain everything on it. By explain I mean if the inerviewer asks about a project imagine yourself as the leader of the project, take charge and describe it succinctly to the interviewer. Bring along a notepad and ask questions at the right time and/or during the interview (its a give and take session not the interviewer asks a question and you respond you can ask counter questions too for him or her to answer). They are deciding on you and you are deciding on whether you want to work there so ask questions.

    Lastly, as a followup get email addresses of the people you talked to and send them thank you notes and possibly answer any questions they asked that you couldn't answer at the time. It shows you were listening and remembered to followup. Thats a key skill in the corporate world.

    I've interviewed students and they sometime sit there like bumps on a log until you ask them a question. Where do I get the questions to ask? by reading the CV and by the answers the student has given. Sometimes, I'll ask about some project they worked on expecting to hear a succinct answer and instead get some lame answer like the prof assigned it to three of us and Joe ran the show and I only did this small piece... instead you should phrase it like it was an important and insightful project where you learned the intricacies of some software develoment strategy...

    Sometimes the interviewer is lame and will ask out of the box questions like how many wheelbarrows are needed to cart away the local beach and they want to see how you approach the problem whether you solve it or not. Other times they may ask you to implement something on the whiteboard... So don't feel bad if you do poorly stay confident... ultimately its a subjective process that appears objective... sometimes the interviewer is influential and sees something in you that he/she likes and sometime they see it in another student... the luck of the draw...

    Good luck and don't forget to treat the interview as a dry run for future interviews, stay relaxed, stay confident, ask questions and followup when you can...

    I've heard that during presentations the person who asks a question is perceived by the audience to be smarter than the presenter so keep that in mind. By asking good relevant questions the interviewer will look more highly on you.

    Did I mention ask questions? not too many imagine you're already working there and you're talking to your boss whos trying decide if you're right for a new job...
     
  4. May 8, 2014 #3

    Choppy

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    Jedishrfu has lots of great points.

    One thing I would add is to try contacting someone at the company. See if you can talk to someone in the department you're applying to and find out as much as you can about the position.

    Be honest about your experience. It's too easy to get caught if you embellish the truth. But at the same time, take a hard look at everything you've done. You must have done some group work as a student. Have you ever taken on a leadership role, even informally, to get the group project completed? Have you ever organized anything like a school trip or started a club? There are lots of places to look for leadership experience.
     
  5. May 8, 2014 #4

    PhanthomJay

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    Well said. No company of sane mind is going to expect a newbee, ...and an intern to boot...to be a project team leader from the get-go. You'll be doing the spreadsheets and presentation formatting and learning the ropes on the job by doing such work, while learning from others. If you have some of the leadership skills Choppy mentioned, that would be a big plus, including volunteer activities, showing you have the potential to be a project leader down the road. Also, show that you are interested in the company and in learning all that is necessary to be a valuable member.
     
  6. May 8, 2014 #5

    AlephZero

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    If the company is "well known" it almost certainly has a web site, and possibly a facebook page, twitter account, etc, as well. Go there. The links to "news" or "press releases" will give you some background. Even if it's mainly an e-commerce site, you can learn what they actually make. (And if the web site is a disorganized mess, that is also telling you something about whether you want the job anyway...)

    As somebody else said, the idea that they are looking for an intern who can lead projects and generate new business ideas is ridiculous. But companies do sometimes generate ridiculous job adverts by accident (e.g. cut-and-poste and/or proofreading fail!ure) , so don't worry too much about it - unless you have applied for the wrong job, of course!
     
  7. May 9, 2014 #6
    Well, to some extent I do have team assignments experience. The problem is that the team members suck so bad I could I either do everything myself and make it perfect or try to pass some workload onto them which takes more time because I have to break down the assignments for them, review their procrastinated work and finally just agree with an average result while still having done most of the work. To make matters worse they do one thing then lay off expect to get praised over it.
     
  8. May 9, 2014 #7

    AlephZero

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    Yep, I've worked for a few people like that in industry. We usually call them "managers from hell".

    Actually, they can be great to people work for. The trick is to convince them that you are adding zero value to the project. Once they decide to just ignore you completely, you can get paid for doing whatever you like.

    The most extreme example that I encountered eventually came to an end after an annual performance review, which lasted about 5 minutes, and ended with the obligatory "do you have anything you want to ask me" question. My response was, "Just one thing. How do you know I've even been coming into the office for the last 12 months?"

    Watching the guy's face as he spluttered, "you have been coming in, haven't you?" and I said, "So you admit you don't know whether I have or not?" was priceless.
     
  9. May 13, 2014 #8
    So I got back from the interview which was long and weird. Mostly I got these situational questions to which I had to remember my experience and how I dealt with it. Come on, I'm just a student and they wanted me to talk about how I handled team management so I could only come up with these weak honest answers.
    Also, I got 2 strange questions like what is the number of bikes in this city, etc. which are not even remotely relevant to the interview. I guess these are to do some indirect candidate assessment. I was honest and simply responded with a negative but mentioning that I could check this up. Maybe I had to make some joke about it and that's it (i mean it was obvious how stupid it was)? Would sending them an email response to that question improve my position?
    So now I'm confused. How should I handle interviews? Should I be honest or act witty and confident by bending the truth as much as possible?
     
  10. May 13, 2014 #9

    PhanthomJay

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    The last thing I want to see in a student interview is over confidence. I mean, what the heck do you know on day one of a job? Absolutely nothing. I want someone with a good educational background who is interested in performing to the best of his/her ability and willing to learn from others with 10 to 20 years experience. And is honest. And if you were a group leader in school...any group...all the better. But I don't expect you to lead a project on day 1. If I asked you about your willingness to lead a project when you were hired to say to build a multi storied building, and you answered 'oh, sure, that would be easy, we studied frames in school', then I would gently escort you out the door.

    Now if you want that intern job you interviewed for, I would do a quick search on the number of bikes in the city, and respond by email, along with a 'thank you for the opportunity' note. You'll probably get the job. :cool:
     
  11. May 13, 2014 #10

    jedishrfu

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    I think for the bikes question they wanted to see how you might determine the answer. Analysts used to try to guess how many personal computers were shipped by IBM so they went to the box maker and asked how many boxes IBM ordered. Anyway, ypu might find to relevance to the interview from the odd question.
     
  12. May 13, 2014 #11
    The "how many bikes..." question is probably an attempt to see how you estimate things. They might be looking for an answer such as, "well there are about 250,000 people in the city, and if half own a bike that would be 125,000 bikes." Then you come up with a rationale for the one-half factor ("everyone I know has a bike, but we're all students, and..."). The other kind of answer "I will google it later" might be considered lame by comparison. On the other hand (depending on the kind of work they do), they might not want people making guesses about numerical values. Who knows? Sounds like a question the interviewer read in a "1001 good interview questions" article on yahoo.
     
  13. May 13, 2014 #12
    My initial response was 'I do not know but I could check it for you'. Then she wanted me to guess so I started guessing. I think I should have answered the way I did but without guessing and offering to get back to her latter. I really haven't responded the way I should have :(
    So this here is very important to me. Should I really look for her contacts and give my looked up answer?!?!
     
  14. May 14, 2014 #13

    Physics_UG

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    I was once asked how many dimples are on a golf ball. I calculated the surface area of the ball. the I estimated the area of a dimple. Assuming the packing efficiency of dimples on the surface is 100% then I divided the surface area of the ball by the area of a dimple to find how many dimples.

    I was also asked one time how to differentiate between an aluminum ball with a small cavity inside and an iron ball with a large cavity inside. Both look the same on the outside and weigh the same.

    These questions are meant to see how you think They don't want you to just say you'll look it up later or throw out random numbers.
     
  15. May 14, 2014 #14

    jedishrfu

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    It couldn't hurt. She may not hire you this time but she will remember. Its always good to thank the interviewer and followup. Don't always count yourself out before you've gotten the rejection. Sometimes even after the rejection you can turn it around so always go out on a positive note. Managers sometimes hire on an intuition.
     
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