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Women in Science Project
6243 Parker House, 2nd floor
(Located in a two-story white frame house)
Hanover, NH
03755-3529
Phone: (603) 646-3690
Email: WISP@Dartmouth.EDU
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Interview Advice

First Year Research Internship Program Interviewing Advice

Impressions Are Typically Formed in the First 60 Seconds!

This goes both ways! Impressions formed by the sponsor and by you, the prospective intern, register consciously or unconsciously in the first minute.

What Makes a Positive First Impression?

Firm handshake, eye contact and a confident voice. For example, "Hello, Professor (or Dr.) XX,. I'm pleased to meet you. I'm Lucy XXX and I'm here for the WISP internship interview." In some cultures and some families, these assertive behaviors are not encouraged, especially when there is a status difference between the two people (and you are the one with the lower status). You may feel a bit out of your comfort zone if you have not done this before. Practice beforehand with your roommate or friends; you will feel more at ease.

Your presentation has a bearing on a sponsor wanting to work with you — promptness, courtesy, appropriate dress, and whether you are engaged (actively participating) in the interview.

The interviewer may be the sponsor or a person who will later serve as an "assistant sponsor", such as a grad student or a technician. You may meet several people on the research team. Everyone will most likely be eager to describe the work they do and show you around.

Why Are You Interested in This Particular Project?

Plan out an answer in advance. You are not expected to have prior knowledge or experience about the research being conducted, but interviewers will be assessing your general motivation, your commitment, your willingness to learn new things and your level of responsibility. Willingness to take initiative and be a 'self-starter' is highly valued. (See the kinds of 'requirements' that are included in some of the project descriptions.)

They Are Checking You Out — You Are Checking Them Out. You Wil Need to Initiate Some of the Conversation

The interview is an important time not only to convey your interest and commitment, but for you to really find out what the intern's role will be. Understanding the intern's role will allow you to make better-reasoned choices in your internship preferences. If the internship description in the Opportunities Booklet does not sufficiently explain what a WISP intern will be doing in her role in the research, ask. If you don't hear a clear enough explanation, ask for more clarification.

There Are No Dumb Questions During This Interview, So Ask What You Need to Know at This Stage

A thoughtful question that always has value is to ask how the current research fits into the larger context of knowledge — "the bigger picture", where or how can this information be applied?

A very important logistical question is to ask what blocks of time the sponsor sees as optimal for an intern to learn and make a meaningful contribution. Then, talk about whether that fits your plans for at least winter term. This may help you choose the internship that best fits your schedule.

Use the interview process to explore some of the fascinating research going on here, to meet faculty, to carefully consider if you really have the time to commit to this internship over two consecutive terms. Past interns clearly say the WISP internship is equivalent to taking a 4th class.

Last Updated: 10/20/10