Preparing for an Interview — 5 Big Questions Answered

As we all know, before receiving any internship or job offer, an interview will be required. For many of us the interview can be the most intimidating part of the application process.

Only July 24th at AOL Headquarters, NY Creative Interns hosted “Interview to the Top,” a panel moderated by Founder and President, Emily Miethner.

The Panelists included:
(in order pictured below)

Neisha Tweed– Senior Copywriter at Publicis Modem
Chris Lesser– Senior Human Resources Manager at AOL
Susan Karlin– President at Suka Creative
Matt Mullin– Digital Content in the Barnes and Nobel nook division

What followers is part one of a three-part series that will delve into the important questions answered at this event.


1. What do you want to see in a cover letter?

Chris:  A cover letter can come in various forms depending on how you apply for the position. For example, if you are applying via email the cover letter can be the body of the email.

Be sure to cover key points such as what you are applying for, how you learned about the position, highlight key skills and experience, and then finish with your contact information. When highlighting your skills, make sure you include additional information that cannot be found in the resume.

Think of a cover letter as your pre-interview. A resume highlights your skills, but the cover letter calls out your finest skills and tells a good story as well. The letter should also touch on what you know about the role, and how you fit the role specifically.

Susan: It is important that the cover letter is not generic. “Do your homework” and make sure you research the company and employees via the company website or LinkedIn. For example “I saw on your website that you have worked with X company on Y campaign. I have worked on a similar style campaign at Z internship.”

2. What makes a great resume? 

Neisha: Typos are the biggest mistake you can make on a resume. Always proofread your resume and cover letter multiple times, give them to another person to proofread, and then proofread them again one last time. One small typo could cost you a meeting or job.

Just like a cover letter, never send a generic resume. Customize your resume to best highlight your skills that match the position.

Matt: Resumes should always be actionable and measurable —  include data. For example, if you were the editor of your college newspaper, include the papers circulation numbers and how many people you managed.

NY Creative Interns Interview Prep TipsImage Courtesy of Thinkstock

3. What are the best ways to prepare for an interview? 

Chris: Make sure you research the company before hand. You aren’t researching the company to impress the interviewer, but to understand why this role and company would be a good fit for you.

You’ll never be able to predict the questions that will be asked at an interview, but there are certain things you can do to prepare. Keep in mind experiences where you exhibited qualities such as strong attention to detail, successful teamwork, and problem solving.

Susan: Never walk in cold and think you can just wing an interview. Be prepared, confident and most importantly; be yourself and answer questions truthfully. It is obvious when someone has gone to the employer’s website and is actually interested in what the company is doing.

Neisha: Have stories to tell. Remember: if you have an interview that means they’ve already seen your resume and work, so now they want to get to know you beyond your accomplishments on paper.

Matt: Once again, you can never be generic. Prepare for an interview like you might a presidential debate. If they ask you a question and it catches you off guard, think about how you can move the conversation back to a story that highlights your strengths.


4. How should you dress? What if the interview is in a less formal environment? 

Susan: When in doubt dress more formal. A suit may not  always be necessary, especially in creative or start-up environments, but always come to an interview looking professional. A firm handshake and good eye contact is just as important as how you’re dressed.

Neisha: Always dress the part. Dress the way you want others to treat you.

5. How much time do you spend looking at a candidate’s social media presence?

Chris: Be cautious. Employers will likely look at your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles before an interview; but the amount of time an employer spends looking at your social media presence really does depend on the role. For example, if you’re applying for an editorial position, the number of Twitter followers you can effect your performance in the role, so they are more likely to take that into account.

Matt: Using social media is a great way to have a voice and share who you are. For example, if an employer sees that the interviewee follows some of the same people as him, there’s a good chance they will be more inclined to like you.


Do you have any preparation tips that have helped you land an interview? Share them with us in the comments below and stay tuned for parts two and three of this interview series.

About the Author

I love education & technology. Current member of the Community Team at bitly. @juliawilson89

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