Student Stories

From Interviews to the Offer

This is a guest post by Kimaya Kamat for InternMatch’s Student Stories. If you’re interested in getting involved with Student Stories, learn more here.

6922749580_c17ac1b67dFrom interviews to the offer…

The recruitment season is in its prime and most of you have landed great internships! Some of you have interviews and are in the anticipatory mode!! There will be some like me who think that they have given millions of interviews, are at the end of their patience because all they get are those rejection emails which say that “You were a great candidate but….”

I personally feel the wait from the interviews to the decision is the hardest time in the process. Takes its toll on you!

I never understood why I was being rejected. After every interview I was like, ”Well, that went well!” After a point, when all the software giants were done rejecting me (even though my interview constituted of extremely simple questions!), I did a mock interview. Too late in the process, but it was something that helped me grab an internship with Thomson Reuters in the next week. It occurred to me that I may have all the knowledge; it was time to change my attitude!

Here is what I learned…

1)      Be natural

One of the most important things I learned (unfortunately too late in my job search!) was that I was very formal during interviews. Even to me, I sounded rehearsed. I guess it was out of nervousness. Sometimes, it was merely that I was intimidated at the thought of being interviewed by a software giant!  I would think a lot during the interviews and try to get everything right. My language, diction, answers …everything. Unknown to me, the hiring manager had no clue as to who I really was. It was not easy to know how I react to various situations, to whether I would be a good fit within their team and so on! No one would hire a fake.. And so they didn’t!

2)      It is okay to say “I don’t know ”

If you know the answer to a question outright, you’ll blurt it out. If you can work your way through it, well, that is great too! If you just have no clue about the jargon that just got thrown at you, just say “I’m sorry. I do not know about this!”

Do not try making up weird stories about it. It won’t work! Interviews are nothing like an exam where you expect half credit for something that you’ve penned down!

You’re just starting your career. It is okay to not know something. The recruiter just wants to know if you can come to terms with something that you don’t know and can work on it rather than falsifying yourself!

It is pleasure to work with a learner than a Know-it-all!!

3)      No preparation …No Offer!

The question “Why do you want to work for us?” can either get you in or out! It certainly helped me bag an internship! Know your employer before the interview. Research on some of the latest investments/acquisitions/inventions/products of the company. Your tone and body language must exude your enthusiasm to work for the interviewer. No one would hire you if you don’t seem interested.

If you really are enthusiastic and know some things about the company that your interviewer has a very faint idea about, high chances you will be favored!

4)      Do not hesitate to correct your interviewer

As far as I remember I used to yes-man my interviewers all the time! It was registered in my mind that they are ALWAYS correct! Imagine my surprise when a senior engineer at Amazon was delighted at having his error pointed out by me – a grad student!

Interviewers are humans. They’re vulnerable to errors as much as you are! If you are sure about something that is being done wrong, don’t be afraid to point it out politely. It will be appreciated. Get this in your head! You’re judged as being part of a team.  If you can contribute to the team’s benefits, do it!

5)      Simple is not stupid!

It is not that interviewers expect decorated answers. No! You’re short on time. A typical interview will last about 30-45 minutes. Hiring a candidate is a big decision. Keep your answers simple. Long stories and enhanced incidents are a strict no-no. You might think it is stupid that the interviewer actually asked you a one word answer. More than ever, the recruiter is focusing on your ability to articulate briefly! Be concise, not curt!

This also applies to the questions that you want to ask. Stuck in a problem? Want to know more about the company? Have a question but think it is too stupid to ask? Happens! Ask it anyway. You might just end up with an awestruck interviewer and a high possibility of an internship. Curiosity is what fuels your desire to learn! It isn’t offensive, it is impressive!

6)      More questions are a good sign!

Do not be depressed by the myth that if you’re being asked too many questions on one topic, it is because your answers aren’t satisfactory. No! In fact the interviewer is trying to gauge your expertise over that area. You’re in the right direction! The more questions you are asked, the more chances that you’re not being considered hopeless.

7)      Behavioral  interviews

These are the interviews I lost on. Almost 70% of companies I interviewed ousted me after the Behavioral/HR interview. This is the last place you would want to throw domain specific jargon. Here, you talk as though you would talk to any new person you meet, who has no idea what you did or what your work is all about.  Keep your language as lucid as possible! Do NOT use highly technical phrases here or job –specific words/acronyms. If you necessarily have to, explain the phrase! HR interviews determine how clearly and simply you express an idea.

Use an anecdote to lighten up the atmosphere a little. Always helps to have a little humor on your side! Stop being serious and grumpy all the time.

Another tip: On being asked about your weaknesses, never say you have none. That is outright lying! Knowing that you have a weakness is in itself very positive. Back it up with how you’re working on it.

8)      Thank you!

Write a note thanking your interviewer for their time. Tell them how important this job is to you. If you did/said something during your interview that was noteworthy, emphasize it here. You don’t expect them to remember you from over a thousand candidates. If there was a question you couldn’t answer earlier, answer them here. It shows that you meant it when you said “you’ll get back to them later about it!”

Most importantly, SMILE! It helps, even on a phone interview.

Hope this helps you land an internship. It helps to hone oneself. Never stop improving! Good luck!

About the Author:

I’m a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY and I majored in Computer Science! Academically, I’m interested in databases and programming. Java is my favorite programming language and I’ve spent most of my time doing web development and learning new frameworks in Java. I hail from India and have found the US and its people very warm despite the weather in the north east! Ever since I moved here, trying out new cuisines has been added to my hobbies. I like biking in the summer, going for an occasional swim and traveling. From the places I’ve visited, I find the life in New York City very appealing.

Photo Credit


Previous post

Play the Networking Game, But Play it Your Way

Next post

Three Lessons from Three Internships in One Year

  • ishaan viegas

    well written!!

    • kimaya kamat


  • Megha Kanniganti

    hey, could you tell me your answer for ” tell me about yourself”

    • kimaya kamat

      Sure Megha. I understand that that is the most difficult question for some. The key is prepared but do not sound prepared.

      It will mostly be on the lines of:
      I’m a graduate student at xxx pursuing xxx program. Along the coursework, I’ve been interested in 1….2…..3 subjects. Besides courses, I work as xxx. One of my most interesting projects has been xxx. and so on

  • Tigran Hakobyan

    Great read. Thanks Kimaya 🙂

    • kimaya kamat

      Thanks Tigran. Glad you liked it