Interviews are always scary, no matter how many you’ve done. We know that getting past your first ever job interview is a challenge and a half. Luckily for you, we’re here to let you know exactly what to expect, how to prepare and also what NOT to do in your first interview. Let’s get stuck in.
What Is The Purpose Of A Job Interview?
Job interviews are used for pretty much every job opening, as a way for the company to assess a candidate’s skills and suitability for the job before hiring. Remember, getting to the interview stage is already great. In fact usually only 2% of candidates who apply for a job are selected to attend a job interview, so calm down, you’re doing well so far!
Using The Job Description To Prepare
Psst… want a great interview life hack? The job description is essentially a cheat sheet for what they’re going to ask you in the interview. The interview is there to assess your suitability for the role, and the job description tells you everything about that role. Therefore it also tells you everything they could possibly ask about.
Have another read through – what skills and abilities are clearly prioritised? For example, if ‘communication’ is mentioned loads of times, it’s very likely the interviewer will be assessing your communication skills. This will either be within the conversation itself or through a question along the lines of ‘tell me about a time when you effectively communicated a message to your team’.
Read the job description, re-read it, then read it again.
Do Your Company Research
You’ve probably heard everyone and their nan tell you to do your research, but does it actually matter? Yes, yes it does.
Not only will being clued up on the company make you feel more confident (and sure you actually want to work for them) but it’ll also give you things to mention and questions to ask in the interviewer – demonstrating clearly that you’re organised and definitely want to work for the company. Trust us, your interviewer can tell when you’ve done this.
Practice Interviewing Before Your First Interview
Again, this one might seem like a waste of time, but if it’s your first ever interview make sure you do some sort of practice. With a mate, with your mum, with a member of The Grad Soc team in a 1-1 interview coaching session, whoever.
Practice going over common interview questions and giving a bit of background info to yourself, your skills and your experience.
How To Nail The Small Talk
The dreaded small talk! Whether you’re in-person and have to walk with the interviewer from the reception to the interview room or breaking the ice on Zoom, there will always be some small talk.
It’s likely they’ll ask about how you are or how your day’s going, so have an answer prepared that gives a little more insight into who you are as a person or your attitude, e.g. ‘I’m great thank you, I’ve been really excited to speak with you today” or “Really good, thank you for asking – I started today with a quick run so I’m already feeling pretty accomplished!’ Always ask how they’re doing too – this is an opportunity to turn the interview into a conversation.
Questions You Might Be Asked In Your First Job Interview
Even though every interview is different, there’s always some common questions that tend to crop up a lot. Questions along the lines of ‘tell me about yourself’, ‘talk me through your previous experience’, ‘why do you want to work for this company’, ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ etc. etc.
Alongside these common questions, you could also be asked questions that assess your personality, abilities and skills. There might also be some behavioural and situational questions.
Don’t get freaked out – just think about WHY they’re asking you the question. Consider what they want to find out about you. For example, if they ask ‘tell me about a time when you failed’, they’re not wanting to know about how much of a failure you are. They want to assess how you can learn from your mistakes and your attitude to learning. This is how to smash not only your first job interview, but any future ones too.
You also don’t have to answer the question right away, you can take a sip of water or ask for a minute to think about it before you start talking. This won’t count against you at all.
Have Questions To Ask Them
At the end of every interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. You do!
Always have a couple of questions prepared, as this will demonstrate your organisation, enthusiasm and passion for the role/company. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the job and who you’d be working for!
Remember – don’t ask anything that you could easily find out from a quick Google search as this will highlight that you haven’t done your research. Instead ask about upcoming projects, how success is measured or ask the interviewer what their favourite thing about their role/the company is. This is yet another opportunity to find common ground and have a conversation, so make the most of it!
Extra Little Tips For Your First Job Interview
A couple of extra tips for your first job interview…
- Bring a printed copy of your CV to refer back to if you need it
- Dress smartly (even if it’s just from the waist up on Zoom)
- If you’re in-person make sure you leave extra journey time, or if you’re on Zoom make sure you’re logged in and the wifi’s not dodgy at least 10 mins before. (Check out our article 6 things you need to do before your Zoom interview for more tips)
- Send a thank you message within 24 hours after your interview! Do anything you can to stay memorable and fresh in the interviewer’s mind. (Read how long should I wait to follow up after my job interview if you want more advice on this)
Right, you now know exactly what to expect in your first interview and how to prepare. Up next is the tough part – the actual interview itself! Don’t look so scared, we know you’ve got this.
Remember that we’re here anytime you need us, all you need to do is ask. Or stalk us on Instagram, we don’t mind.