If you have been largely unsuccessful in receiving internship offers (as I was in my first year of university), it’s time to start assessing what’s going wrong. The best indicator of this is the stage you are being rejected at.
Rejection at application & testing stage – This could be for a number of reasons: a) You aren’t reaching a competitive benchmark for the online tests. Practice didn’t make perfect for me when it came to the numerical tests, I found it more useful to sit with someone who had a high pass rate and learn their approach. I realised that they were a lot more relaxed than during the tests than I was and they focused a lot more on accuracy. In being so time conscious I always ended up panicking which impacted the accuracy of my answers. For situational judgement or personality type tests I have found that the best way to practice is to have actually had previous work experience. There are a lot of behaviours we normalise as students that won’t work in the workplace. If you haven’t had ample work experience the key is not to just simply ‘be yourself’ because the person you are right now may not understand the difference in mind-set needed at work, your best bet is to think as though you were already a star employee; what behaviours and decisions would they make? b) You are applying too late. Always APPLY EARLY even if they do not recruit on a rolling basis. If you leave it too late you run the risk of your application not even getting looked at or not standing out amongst the hundreds of other people who also left it till the last minute. Additionally, some firms will also have expected you to complete their online tests before the deadline and leaving your application till the last minute jeopardises this.
c) A poor CV/cover letter. Your CV forms the first impression and needs to be top-notch. They also need to be tailored to the role and industry -I have 5 versions of my CV to suit different applications.
Rejection at Phone Interview – a) You usually have about 20 minutes to impress the interviewer so every answer counts. One weak answer could be letting you down. For me it was always commercial awareness till I decided to only talk about news that genuinely interested me rather than what I thought they wanted to hear. I would search online for previous questions and prepare for all. b) It can be difficult to portray interest and enthusiasm over the phone so tone and pitch variation are essential. Get a friend to interview you and record your answers, do you come across as passionate and excited? You might not because you’re typically nonchalant or shy but you’re going to have to let that go for 20 minutes and portray your enthusiasm.
Rejection at Assessment Centre – If you are getting to this stage I wouldn’t be too worried. I am not the biggest believer in luck but sometimes it really is a numbers game. You might be at an assessment centre for 12 people with only 1 position. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good enough it might have just been that someone else was better suited or perhaps just had an interviewer that they really got along with and that swayed the decision. For tips on smashing your next AC read How To: Ace Your Assessment Centre.
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