ACUHO-I Internship Series Part 4: Interviewing

This post is one in a five part series on securing a summer internship in college housing and residence life through the ACUHO-I’s Housing Internship Program. It is written from the perspective of a former ACUHO-I Intern. The series will walk you through the process from beginning to end providing tips and tricks along the way. This series provides one intern’s perspective, always refer to the official site for ACUHO-I’s Housing Internship Program for the most up-to-date information.

Preparing to Apply | Targeting and Applying To Schools | Accepting and Preparing for Interviews | Interviewing | Navigating Offers

It’s interview time! The interview is by far the most important time for you to showcase your skills, abilities, and desires to hopeful future employers. This is your time to shine and explain why you believe you would make a good fit for the role, team, and community. Whether you have tons of prior interview experience or very little, this post provides a few key steps and considerations before jumping into the first zoom/phone call.

1.  Tell The Interviewer About Yourself

Most of your interviews will start off with the interviewers asking you to share a little bit about yourself. A lot of people struggle with this question. The interviewers already have your resume, a candidate statement, and a cover letter. Therefore, use this opportunity to share three to four selling points that go beyond those documents. You can share how you got into the field, why you are passionate about it, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or who you are as a person. After stating these selling points, go into detail and give strong examples. Practice this question because you will get it alot!

2. Give School-Specific Examples

Interviewers and search committees want to know why you are interested in them specifically. Before going into an interview, do a bit of research on the school, department, and position. Write down notes and list anything that strikes you as interesting or worth mentioning in the interview. Bringing up major accomplishments, recalling positional details, and demonstrating knowledge of current policies and statistics will convey your interest and desire for the internship you’re interviewing for.

Roompact Topics - ACUHOI Summer Internship Resources

Check out our curated resources to help you in your ACUHO-I Summer Internship search!

3. Project Enthusiasm About the School and Position

Before interviewing, reflect on why the internship sparked your interest and motivated you to apply in the first place. Demonstrate this enthusiasm in the interview. An employer wants to hire someone who brings passion to their position, not just someone looking to check off a summer internship box. You don’t have to go overboard, but be authentic and genuine in providing the interviewer your “why” behind pursuing their internship for the summer. The deeper and more genuine your explanation you can convey, the more likely you are to stand out in that interviewer’s mind.

4. Not Every Interview Is Going To Go Well

So, you fell in love with an internship, did your research, wrote your questions, and got plenty of sleep. Then BOOM! The interview was a disaster and did not go how you anticipated. It’s okay, it happens. While it is easy to get discouraged, always remember that your worth is not dependent upon an interview. While you might have already accepted the position in your head before the interview even began, don’t allow one bad interview to keep you from thriving and shining in the rest of your interviews! Take a few minutes after each interview to reflect on what you feel went well and what areas of your interview skills or question responses may need growth and development. 

Furthermore, not every school or position is going to be the right fit. There is no “perfect fit.” You may rock the interview, but leave it with a poor impression of the position or institution. This is a good thing. It’s just as important to know the places you don’t want to work as those that you do. Don’t let your desire for an internship keep you from identifying red flags.

5. Your Opportunity To Shine

Almost every interview you undertake will include some time for you to ask questions of your interviewee. In the previous post in this series, I suggested preparing a list of 2-3 unique questions beforehand.

  • Is there a duty or responsibility in the description that you’d like the interviewers to elaborate on?
  • In your research did you find anything that you’d like to know more about?
  • What is important for you to know in order for you to make an informed decision about where to spend your summer?

Questions like these communicate to interviewers that you prepared for the interview and are seriously pursuing their internship. Furthermore, be intentional with any question you ask in an interview. You can always email the interviewer anytime after the interview regarding logistics and details. Do not waste your precious interview question time with questions that could be answered through email. Develop a list of questions that you genuinely want to know more about.

Always ask questions when given the opportunity. You may also want to consider asking one or two standard questions in all of your interviews so you can compare and contrast answers between institutions.

Don’t worry! You’ll get through this. Interviewing can be nerve wracking and it can take a lot of you. Make sure to give yourself grace and allow time for self care. The ACUHO-I internship process is as much a learning opportunity itself as it is an opportunity to secure an internship. If you go in with this mindset, you can more calmly navigate it without needlessly stressing yourself out.

The next post in this series will go over navigating acceptances.

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