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5 tips for the MBA internship interview process

People in suits walking

After countless presentations, happy hours, informational interviews and cover letters, MBA internship interview season is finally here! It is finally time to find out where you will be spending your summer.

Regardless of the outcome, you will likely be interviewing with the leading companies, non-profits and startups in the world.

The process for interviewing for your internship is both exciting and stressful. To provide some perspective, I’ve compiled a list of five things to remember while navigating the internship interview process.

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Speak the language.

One of the biggest compliments you can get when you travel to a new country is to be treated like a local. In order for that to happen, you need to speak and relate to the language and culture. The same works for companies. If you want them to like and accept you, you need to start speaking their language.

To learn a company’s language, I immersed myself in as much content and material as I could. Whether it was reading their 10-K, analyst notes on the company or reviewing notes from my informational interviews with employees at the firm, I did my best to truly learn and use the language and incorporate the culture of the company I was interviewing with.

Hit reset.

Telling you to stay calm will probably not do much, so I’m not going to suggest it. (However, if you’re an even-keeled person, good for you – stay that way in the recruiting process!)

If you do tend to have highs and lows, take time to reflect after every interview. If you have a good interview, awesome! Figure out how to repeat what you did well. If you have a bad one, no worries. Think about what you can do better next time, then move on. Try to hit the reset button after every interview.

The internship interview process can be a lengthy one, so it helps to stay persistent. Focus on each challenge one at a time. This will hopefully make the process less daunting and nerve-wracking.

I’m interested.

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Prepare thoughtful questions.

There is a good chance you’ll get the opportunity to ask your interviewer some questions at the end of the interview. Use this time wisely. Ask thoughtful and interesting questions that will leave a memorable impression with your interviewer. Prep your questions in advance so you don’t walk in empty handed. Sure, you may improvise with one or two questions that are relevant to what you discussed in the interview, but make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate your thoughtfulness and interest in the opportunity.

Keep the door open.

There are very few hard “No’s” in the interview process. If you’re still interested in a company (and even if you think you aren’t), it never hurts to keep the door open. You might end up recruiting there for full-time jobs or end up looking there later in your career.

The company that I interned at originally turned me down for a different position. When I was looking later on in the recruiting cycle, I saw they had a similar position on a different team and reached back out to the recruiter. Since I had already interviewed and had done well enough, they put me on the list for the new posting. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stayed in touch.

Be grateful.

Regardless of the outcome, you will likely be interviewing with the leading companies, non-profits and startups in the world. Getting the chance to intern for one of these organizations is pretty cool!

Yes, your future is important. Take the process seriously, but don’t forget to take a step back and remember that this is a privilege – one you should be grateful for.

Don’t be afraid to express your gratitude. Be polite and gracious to those who you meet in the process. People will respect you for it – and you never know when karma will come back around.

By Alex Dea (MBA ’15), founder of MBASchooled