Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fearless interview preparation

After applying for the summer internship program at Burson-Marsteller, the world's sixth largest public relations agency, I never expected to make it an interview from nearly 800 applications nationwide.

Sure enough, this was the position I found myself in. Looking at my dream internship straight in the face, I spent hours researching the ins and outs of Burson. I read every single employee testimonial on the 'Burson Person' page on their Web site and I feel like I read every single page on the Burson Web site.

I accessed my internal memory for questions that I was asked during previous interviews. I prepared responses for every one of them. I practiced them out loud to MYSELF. Yes, this felt weird at the time, but it helps to practice articulating each answer. It also helped to make mental notes of when I said something especially dumb or especially engaging. I had the responses typed out neatly with talking points for each area.

My preparation paid off and after the first interview I advanced to the final round of interviews. From the 120 applications submitted to the Chicago office, 10 were selected for final interviews. After the first interview the field was narrowed even further which I was still a part of.

Unfortunately, a phone call informed me that there was no funding for the public affairs practice for which I was applying. No dream internship, not now at least. There was nothing I did wrong, just the economy and bad luck.

While I didn't get the internship, my intense preparation will make the next job/internship interview that much easier. I also got practice interviewing for a worldwide PR agency and learning how to act on a phone interview.

My advice would be to fearlessly prepare for every interview like it's the only one you get; because even if you don't get the job, you'll be that much more prepared the next time around.


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