How to prepare for your first interview
Going to your first interview can be both exciting and terrifying. Having pre-interview jitters is normal, whether it’s your first interview or your fiftieth. However, if those jitters develop into full-blown anxiety, you risk losing control of the situation.
By preparing for your interview ahead of time, you’ll be ready to walk into the room with confidence. Here are some of the top tips for preparing for your first interview.
Research the Company
Knowledge is power when walking into an interview. Take time to research the company and the job posting that you’re applying for. Look at the company website and social media to get a sense of their work, values, and general tone and culture.
If possible, use Google and LinkedIn to learn more about the person who could potentially be interviewing you. While you collect information, make notes of points that you can bring up during the interview to show your knowledge. For example, commenting on a campaign that you found intriguing.
Employers want to know that you’re interested in working for them specifically, not just in getting a job. Additionally, an interview is meant to prove that you’re the best person for the role. To sell yourself with conviction, you need to have a good idea of what that role entails with the company.
Do a Mock Interview
Consider practicing your interview with a friend or in front of the mirror. Use commonly asked questions and themes to put together well-thought-out answers. Don’t worry about a verbatim script— this exercise will just give you information to fall back on if you start to feel nervous.
It’s worth looking up commonly asked interview questions, such as identifying your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Common behavioral and situational questions pertain to how you would deal with a demanding customer, or how you overcame a last-minute deadline in the past.
Consider hiring an interview coach or using a service like My Interview Practice to get constructive feedback.
Practice your interview skills and brush up on your resume
Bring a Copy of Your Resume
While many job boards use fields for applications, you should always have a well-crafted resume. This applies even if you have no prior job experience. If you want an easy, professional-looking resume template from an online resume maker, check out ResumeBuild here.
Bring a copy of your resume with you to the interview, as well as a pen. Having this document in front of you will remind you of the experience and skills you highlighted. If you’ve been in the job market for a while, it’s easy to forget some of the things you included.
Having a resume in front of you is a great way to stay grounded and on topic. If you get nervous and feel stuck, you can glance back at your paper to redirect.
Create an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a quick intro that tells someone who you are and what you do. The idea is that the details are informative but brief enough that you could sell your services during an elevator ride.
One of the first things you’ll be asked during your interview is to tell the hiring manager or panel more about yourself. Having an elevator pitch prepared will help you outline the highlights of your experience and personality, without rambling or blanking from nerves.
Map Out Your Route and Schedule
Getting stuck in traffic or being unable to find the building is never an acceptable excuse. When it comes to interviewing, if you’re leaving the house on time, you’re already late.
Sit down and use Google Maps to find out where you’re headed. Create a timeline for the day that gives you ample time to find your destination. It’s better to be half an hour early and waste a few minutes in a nearby coffee shop than it is to be five minutes late.
Prepare a Few Questions
An interviewer will always ask if you have any questions for them. This is an opportunity to convey your interest and show that you took the time to research the business.
Have a few questions prepared in case they answer your questions before you ask them during the interview. Think outside the box when putting together questions. For example, asking about the perceived challenges or what a day in this role looks like are great questions. You can take it to the next level by asking what sets a great employee apart and how performance is measured. Don’t use this opportunity to ask about vacation time.
Being prepared for an interview is like rehearsing for a play. The more times you go through the motions, the more of a routine it will become. Never hesitate to slow down and take a couple of breaths to quiet your nerves and get back on track.