Applying for your first job can be intimidating, but it gets a little easier. Here are 7 interview tips for your first job.
1. Do Your Homework
Do a little research about the company and the position before you show up. Knowing exactly what the company does and the position they’re trying to fill will help you target your conversation and focus on the relevant parts of your background. Interviewers don’t like fielding questions like “So, what do you do?” They expect you to come prepared with a baseline of knowledge. So ask friends and family who might know about the company or hit the Internet for some Google searches.
2. Dress Appropriately
Your appearance is the first impression that anyone has of you (unless you’re doing a phone interview). You don’t have to wear fancy clothes, but you have to be well-groomed and professional. Generally speaking this means “business casual” - no tank tops, no flip flops, no shorts. If you look like you’re ready for the beach, you shouldn’t be headed to a job interview.
3. Know the Common Questions
While each interview is unique, there are a few questions that you can always expect to get. Make sure you review Common Interview Questions and are ready to answer them and it will be smooth sailing!
4. Come with Questions of Your Own
An interview is a two-sided process. While they’re checking you out, you’re checking them out, making sure it would be a good fit. If you’re a laid back kind of person and the company seems really strict and uptight, it’s probably best to find a better match. So be prepared to ask a few questions of your own. Think about what’s most important to you - is it job flexibility, personal growth, your wardrobe? Ask the questions that are most important to you, whose answers might be deal-breakers for you. Some questions might be:
- I’m interested in increasing my computer skills, does this job allow for that?
- Although I’m a reliable person I occasionally have to watch my younger brother, is this going to be a problem?
- What kind of dress code is required?
Nothing prepares you like practice. For a lot of people the first job interview is one of the first times that you have to interact with an adult in a professional setting. You’ll be expected to act like an adult, be prepared, speak intelligently and present yourself well. The best way to get comfortable with this situation is through practice. Start talking to adults you encounter throughout your day: grocery store clerks, bank tellers, your pastor or delivery people. Make eye contact and treat them with the respect you hope they treat you with. The more comfortable you get with interacting as an adult, the easier it will be!
6. Learn to Talk About Yourself
We’re so used to trying to be modest that it can be hard to talk about our own accomplishments. But this is what a job interview is all about. This is your one chance to let the interviewer know why you’re awesome, so get used to talking about your strengths. Don’t be modest, but do be realistic. What are your strengths, why are you a good fit, what can you bring to the job that no one else can.
7. Think Out Loud
Don’t be afraid to think out loud. What does that mean? For starters, it doesn’t mean ramble. Rather, it means if you’re presented with a new or challenging question, let the interviewer in on your thought process. Walk them through how you’re thinking about the problem - and show them that you are thinking. Remember your math teacher always telling you to “show your work?” Sometimes it’s not the right answer that they’re looking for, but evidence that you can think through a tough situation, follow logic and come to a rational conclusion. You don’t always have to be right, most people aren’t (Neil deGrasse Tyson might be the exception) it’s just important that you’re using your brain!
Your first job interview is always the hardest, but don’t be nervous. Remember that the person on the other side of the table is human too and was once in your shoes. They know what it’s like to be young and starting out and will likely cut you some slack as long as you seem respectful and have come to the interview prepared. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the first job you apply for - sometimes it’s not about you, there was just a more qualified candidate who also interviewed.