A Caterpillar Intern’s Top Tips for Acing Your Next Interview

August 3, 2023

At Caterpillar, we know the interns of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Our interns come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing fresh and innovative ideas to help us do our best work. For Gabrielle, communications intern for Team Caterpillar, that means bringing her expertise in developing interview skills.

Gabrielle is a recent graduate of Monmouth College, where she also held a job as a career assistant performing mock interviews and teaching fellow students tips and tricks for their next job or graduate school interview. 

We asked her to share her experience and top tips:

Preparation Tips

  • Preparation is huge. Research the position and company beforehand. 
  • Real eyes see real lies. Be yourself! 
  • Whether in person or virtual, body language, attentiveness, and eliminating distractions is so important.
  • Nerves are normal. Find a way to ease them that works best for you.
    • Gabrielle says, “I remind myself that the interview is just a conversation and I’m trying to see if they are a good fit for me too. I can calm my nerves down when I take the formal part out of my head. When I do this, I am way more authentic, professional, and comfortable. Which is how I want to be during an interview.”

Gabrielle C., Communications Intern


Gabrielle C., Communications Intern

Gabrielle in front of machine
Gabrielle in front of tire

Interview Tips

  • Answer questions in a situation, task, action, result format (STAR).
    • Gabrielle recommends spending about 20% of your answer on describing the situation at hand. Follow up with about 10% of your answer describing the tasks needed. The majority, about 60%, of your answer should be spent on the action needed or how you solved the problem – what you personally did to address the situation and round out your answer with 10% on the result. 
  • It’s important to remember not to generalize. Use “I” instead of “we” when answering.
    • “I was always told to never generalize when being asked STAR questions,” says Gabrielle. “It is important to pick the specific situations that you’ve personally experienced so that the person interviewing you knows the situation was unique to you.”
  • Ask Questions
    • Gabrielle says, "Asking questions is essential. It shows the interviewer that you are interested in the position and want to learn more. Also, the answers to the questions are for your benefit. It’s helpful to learn as much about the position as you can during the interview.” 
    • Some of Gabrielle’s favorites to ask include: 
      • How would you describe the work environment?
      • What would a typical workday look like in this position?
      • Describe the position and tasks from your understanding and ask them if you missed anything.
      • What do you love most about your job?
    • When it comes to the tough questions – Be positive!
      • Tell me about yourself.
        • “Avoid things interviewer can already see on your resume. Instead, tell them what drives your passion, career journey, things you are proud of, what drives you to want to apply for this role,” says Gabrielle. 
      • Describe a time you made a mistake?
        • Gabrielle says, “don’t focus on the mistake the whole time. Make a negative a positive by instead focusing on how you made the situation better for the next time.”
      • What is a weakness of yours? 
        • “With this question, the interviewer wants to see how self-aware you are. We all have weaknesses. The best way to answer is to acknowledge a real weakness you have and talk about how you are actively working to improve it.”

Are you ready to apply what you’ve learned? Check out our open roles.