How to succeed in a co-op interview
If you are taking a co-op program, you need to be prepared for an interview with your prospective employer. Your work placement is a required part of your course, but you still have to go through the same process as any other employee.
For many of you, this may be your first job interview – so here are some tips for succeeding.
Make sure that you research the company first: look them up online and check their social media to find out what they do, get a feel for how they work, and see what their current focus is. They are likely to ask you what you know about them, so make sure you have a good answer ready for this.
You should also look up common interview questions and come up with answers for them, including solid examples and experience that you can use to demonstrate how you fit the job description.
Lastly, look up the location of the employer and try to practise the journey – the last thing you need is to turn up late because you got lost on the way.
If your college has a careers centre, they will probably offer mock interviews. Take full advantage of this to get used to an interview environment and test your answers to possible interview questions.
You will also probably receive feedback from these mock interview sessions, so pay attention to their recommendations and work on any weaknesses they point out.
When attending an interview, first impressions are everything. Make sure that your outfit is clean and looks professional.
For men, this usually means a shirt and tie or a full suit; for women, a formal dress and jacket, skirt suit, or trouser suit would be appropriate. It’s also important to make sure that everything you wear is comfortable – so don’t knot your tie too tightly or wear shoes that are too high to walk in.
Some businesses (particularly start-ups) will advise you to wear ‘smart casual’. The best way to tackle that is to err on the side of ‘smart’.
Try to relax
If it’s your first interview, it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. However, as long as you have prepared thoroughly, you should have nothing to worry about.
The interviewers are not trying to trip you up or give you a hard time: they just want to see if you can work well together.
And remember – an interview is your opportunity to make a decision about the employer as well, so both sides should be trying to impress.