6 Tips for Your First Job Interview
Even for seasoned pros, interviews can be intimidating. If it’s your first job interview, it can be down right nerve-wracking. We spoke to some career professionals to see what words of wisdom they would share with anyone headed into their first interview.
1. Do your Homework
The best way to keep those nerves in check is to be prepared. First, review the job posting and find the key things it is looking for in a candidate. Then, look at your resume and find qualities and skills that are relevant to the position. These are the things you are going to want to highlight in the interview.
Also, study up on the company. Research the company values, leadership, clients and recent news. Knowing these things will put you a step ahead. “Not only will it help you fill the time during the parts of the interview where you’re stuck and don’t know what to say,” says James Rice, head of Digital Marketing at WikiJob.co.uk, “but also your knowledge about the company will impress your interviewer and show that you are a highly motivated candidate.”
2. Practice Your Answers
There are certain questions that come up over and over again in interviews, so it is worth developing your answers before you get in there.
“Interviewers will typically ask you to tell them about yourself, your background, and why you applied to that job,” shares Ben Rutt, a Licensed Psychologist, “They may also ask for specific examples of ways you’ve navigated challenging situations.”
These questions can be difficult to answer without career examples to use. Instead, “think about the skills the job would require and talk about specific times in your life you have demonstrated using those skills,” Rutt suggests.
Use examples from summer jobs, school, volunteering – any situation that will demonstrate character traits and skills that would make you a good employee. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make it up! Say that you’re not sure, and offer to get back to them with an answer.
Once you’ve thought of your answers, practice them. Say them in front of a mirror, or have a friend or family member mock-interview you. This will reduce your anxiety and make your answers more confident and convincing.
3. Stay Genuine
It might be tempting to over-sell yourself to make up for a lack of experience, but it’s a bad idea. The interviewer has already seen your resume and they know that this is your first job, but they still called you in for an interview. You don’t have to pretend to be a specialist when you’re not. Let your personality, passion and willingness to learn shine through, and it will make up for any lack of experience.
4. Be Prepared
Don’t leave any room for error when it comes to getting up and getting to your interview in time. Double check you alarm, and route out the drive well in advance. Lie out your outfit the night before, and pre-pack you bag with the things you’ll need to bring. The list of what to take to an interview is quite short – a few copies of your resume, a notebook and a pen.
5. Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, the hiring manager will likely ask if you have any questions to ask them. You should always take this opportunity. Come with plenty of questions prepared in advance to ask.
“Your questions should reflect your interest in the job and the company,” advises Carrie S. Ahmad, Vice President at Turning the Corner, LLC. “Be sure to also ask any questions that would help you decide if this is the right job for you.”
Avoid questions about pay, work hours or benefits, though. Stick to things you’d like to know about the position and the company culture.
6. Don’t Let Nerves Get the Best of You
Everyone gets nervous before interviews, and it’s okay.
“Don’t let your unfamiliarity with the process throw you off – just acknowledge that you’re anxious and get in there,” says Adam Hatch, a career advisor and hiring manager at resumegenius.com.
At the end of the day, look at the interview as an opportunity to practice an important skill. Even if you don’t get the job, don’t dwell on it.
“Learn what you can from the experience and move on to preparing for the next interview,” Rutt adds.
Interviews are tough for everyone, no matter how many they’ve been to. A first job interview can be an especially daunting experience, but with enough practice and preparation you can face it with confidence.