Hi, my name is Bianca Gomes, and I am thrilled to be interning with the SAP Global Employer Branding team. As someone who has gone through the internship application process myself, I understand the challenges and uncertainties that candidates face when preparing for an interview.
Whether you're a student or a recent graduate, applying for an internship can be a challenging process, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can increase your chances of success.
Drawing on my own experiences and insights I have gained from working with the SAP Talent Attraction team and hiring managers, I compiled a list of five tips that I believe can help you ace your internship interview.
1. Be prepared to answer common questions
One of the things I did to prepare myself for my SAP interviews was to research common interview questions, write answers to each of the questions I found relevant, and practice them out loud as if I was in front of the interviewers.
Examples of common questions are:
“Tell me a bit about yourself.”
“How did you hear about this position?”
“What attracted you to this position and/or this company?”
“What is your greatest strength?”
Researching and practicing your responses in advance can help you identify language quirks and enable you to prepare a concise response to ensure that you are providing relevant information in a short time. Don’t forget to pinpoint what you want to highlight from your professional path, skills, and personality. This last point is important because sometimes we have little time to show who we are and what potential we can bring to the company.
However, looking at these questions and trying to prepare thoughtful answers can also be confusing. When the interviewer says, "Tell me a little bit about yourself", telling them your age or what you study may not be as relevant, since this information is already written in your resume or CV.
When I had my first interview, I went through information such as the city I came from, what I study at university, and narrated some of my previous professional experiences. All this information seemed relevant to the first recruiter, but when I had the interview with my future boss, I realized that he was more interested in hearing me explain how the roles and tasks performed earlier had made me capable of executing tasks in the department I was applying for.
This experience taught me that even if you are asked the same question, different stakeholders might expect different answers – there is no one-size-fits-all answer but being attentive to each step of the process might help you select information and infer the best way to continue the dialogue with the recruiter or hiring manager during the interview.
2. Don’t just list, but exemplify your soft and hard skills
Soft and hard skills can be also highlighted when answering other questions. When asked “When have you suffered a setback?” you can use the opportunity to emphasize your soft skills.
When it comes to this point, providing examples can be incredibly helpful.
For instance, when discussing your hard skills, you might want to mention specific software programs or technical proficiencies that you possess. Alternatively, when it comes to soft skills, you might mention situations in which you have demonstrated strong communication skills or effective leadership abilities.
By providing concrete examples, you can help to paint a clearer picture of your abilities and provide the recruiter with a better understanding of what you have to offer.
3. Be ready for different interview formats
Interviews at SAP might be conducted by more than one interviewer. Sometimes, the entire team may be present. You should also be prepared to solve a task.
For tech jobs, for example, you might have to demonstrate your programming skills. For a communications position, you might be asked to create a social media post, for instance, an employee story. This could involve researching the target audience, developing messaging and visual assets, and tailoring the material to be posted across various social media channels. By analyzing and understanding the company’s branding and values, you get to demonstrate your ability to think creatively, communicate effectively, and execute successful content.
Remember, this all depends on the position you are interviewing for.
4. Position yourself as a professional
When I started at SAP all I knew that the company was an international enterprise and people who studied English could be valuable.
Self-awareness is a crucial trait for career success, but it's often overlooked. Self-awareness is often categorized as a soft skill, but it's more than that. While hard skills refer to straightforward questions regarding your knowledge and experience and soft skills are related to traits and qualities that impact how we interact with others and perform in the workplace, professional self-awareness involves the reflection on both soft and hard skills to build the big picture of us as employees and coworkers.
Becoming aware of our personal framework as potential employees involves understanding ourselves in the context of the work ecosystem, including our strengths, weaknesses, values, and personal characteristics. For instance, I recently discovered the importance of my personal non-negotiables during an interview. As a neurodiverse person with ADHD, it's crucial for me to work with colleagues who are understanding and empathetic to different ways of working. This realization allowed me to express my needs and communicate more effectively with my potential employer.
This subtle yet essential quality can be explored from the moment of the interview and, in fact, can assist you in comprehending and answering questions more effectively as well as help you to come up with insightful inquiries. However, this might sound difficult at first, since when you're a student you sometimes don't know yet where to start. One way to do that is analyze previous experiences that are not necessarily placed in professional contexts, for example participation in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, study groups and so on. You could also ask for feedback from people you trust, such as colleagues, mentors, or family members. This can give you a better understanding of how others perceive you and your work.
In conclusion, self-awareness is a crucial trait for positioning as a professional. When colleagues and the company understand each other's unique characteristics, it aligns everyone to perform at their best.
5. Be your authentic self
Don't pretend to be someone you're not! This is a common reminder for candidates, as the "fake it till you make it" strategy can backfire if you're unable to deliver the expected results promised during the interview. It's much better to showcase what you actually know. This will be easier if you paid attention to the suggestions from the previous tip and took a moment for self-reflection.
In addition to sharing what you can offer, it's important to talk about what you don't know to identify areas for development. You could acknowledge a lack of experience with a particular technology or skill but demonstrate a willingness to learn and an eagerness to take on new challenges. Since one of the main characteristics of an internship program is to provide a learning environment, it's a great opportunity to build new skills and knowledge.
Outside the scope of your expertise, showing your personality in an interview is also important because it can help the interviewer get a sense of who you are as a person beyond just your qualifications and experience. For instance, you could share a story or anecdote that highlights your interests or passions outside of work. But always make sure that strike the right balance between being yourself and being professional.
Fortunately, SAP is a diverse workplace, and people of all personalities, identities and backgrounds work here. Hence in your interview, be professional, but don’t be afraid to show your personality.