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How to Prepare for an Internship Interview

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

So you’ve applied for an internship in Washington D.C. and landed an interview. Congratulations on a huge accomplishment! This must mean your LinkedIn is sharp and your resume is solid because the internship programs on The Hill are competitive. Now your next step is to prepare yourself for the interview. Oftentimes, if you’re applying for an internship within Congress, they’ll start with a phone or video interview if you’re out of state. After that or if you’re local, they may call you for an in-person interview. Here are a few ways to get yourself ready for either.

Phone or video interviews. If you’re starting out with a phone interview, you may be asked why you want to work in Congress and for a specific representative if you’re applying for an internship within the government. They may question if you’re a republican or democrat and what policies interest you. They are also looking for evidence that you know how to carry a conversation and are respectful.

Research the D.C. organization. When you’re preparing for an interview, one of the first things to do is to research the organization you applied to. Probably the first question they will ask is why you want to work for their organization, so it's best to have an answer prepared. This includes looking into what bills the representative’s office fought to pass, or what interests the organization supports. Start to look for things you have in common, and find a connection between yourself, your interests, and what the office represents. Highlight these areas along with the technical skills that you can bring to the table such as organization, teamwork and leadership. In addition, emphasize your interests in the representative's initiatives.

Have questions prepared. Not only does asking questions demonstrate your interest in the job, it also tells an employer about who you are. So, when you craft your questions, be thinking about this. If you ask questions about time off, that may tell a hiring manager that you aren’t that interested in working. If you ask them about a policy they are behind, you’ll show that’s important to you and how your values align.

Be early for the interview. Whether the interview is in person or remote, clear your schedule ahead of time so you can arrive early. Don’t try to over schedule yourself the day of an interview. Some things can’t be avoided, but make sure you’re not running from another appointment or dealing with a personal issue right before your interview. In addition to being impressive and showing you care, you’ll be less flustered and your answers more thoughtful when you arrive early and can collect your thoughts.

Bring extra hard copies of your resume and other documents such as samples of your work, or relevant papers you've written in the past. You may think that it’s more efficient and cost-effective to bring gadgets and devices such as laptops and iPads instead of hard copies. However, that is not necessarily the case. Some applicants don’t print out their documents and use their devices to show their resume online. These instances have a number of risks such as bad connectivity and system or computer failure, among other things. This could be a message to your employer that you are taking the easy way out.

It's always best to be prepared by having extra hard copies of your documents. You never know how many people will be in the room, and it can also be a good reference to you during your interview. It shows the employer that you are well-prepared and not wasting anybody’s time.

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