6 Tips to Nailing Your First Job Interview

Written by Paul on July 11th, 2008

This is a guest post by Aman Bagga, a single 20-something located in Cleveland, OH.

So you’re finally here. After 4 years of tailgating, beer pong and skipping class you’ve decided to join the working ranks. Congratulations! Now all you have to do is nail that job interview and get your first REAL job. Wait, isn’t there a 7-year plan?

self-made motivational poster and job interview attire

Read on for the six tips you need to know:

  1. Know the Company. Spend time reading about the company in news and pouring over their website. Know their business and how you want to fit in. You don’t want to be in an interview with General Electric and have the interviewer tell you they make airplane engines. You should know this. If you are going for a business position read the company’s latest financial statements. Showing you are knowledgeable about their operation is a sure fire way to impress a recruiter.
  2. Have Some Answers. You don’t know what questions to expect, but you can make predictions. The internet is full of example interview questions – you have no excuses anymore. Take the time to prepare answers and practice saying them out loud. Even if you don’t get the exact same questions, you’ll have a framework and the confidence to provide intelligent answers.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect. So Shady Mortgage Inc. has offered you an interview to be sub-prime mortgage salesman. Don’t blow it off! Even if it’s not your dream job go to the interview for practice. It will help you rehearse for that important job interview. Take the opportunity to build your interviewing skills. (Tip: If you don’t have any interviews before the “big one” practice with friends or family. You know smart people – they can help. Run through questions, get feedback and nail down your routine.)
  4. STAR. No, this isn’t an opportunity for you to rock out in the interview. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results. Interviewers will throw out questions like, “Tell me about a time you worked in a group and had to show leadership skills to achieve a deadline?” That’s a tough question to answer on the spot. But before you start sweating and saying “um” take a deep breath and use the STAR method. Describe a real situation that occurred. You led a project in your Accounting class with the kid who snored in class – you know this! Talk about the situation, what you were expected to accomplish, what actions you took and how it resulted in an A grade.
  5. Have a Conversation. Don’t let the interview be one-sided! Remember, the recruiter isn’t just looking at your answers, but how well you might fit with the organization. It’s not a police investigation, so be personable! Don’t let the questions lead the conversation, but rather keep a casual flow with the interview. Having awkward silences between questions and answers is not what you want to be remembered for.
  6. Ask Questions. This interview is an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and your potential role. Write down some questions about things you’re curious about. Don’t be shy to speak up, especially when asked. Asking intelligent questions shows the Interviewer you are engaged, curious and a critical thinker. I’ve had co-worker’s who interview tell me that when they ask “do you have any questions?” is when the real interview beings.
  7. Be Professional. Wear a business suit. Arrive on time. Shake hands and smile. Don’t talk about the keg stand you did last weekend. You’re trying to become a professional, so act like one.

That’s all there is to it – now get out there and kick some ass.

Have more useful tips? Drop them in the comments below.

Image Credit: slushpup

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5 Responses to “6 Tips to Nailing Your First Job Interview”

  • You forgot the most important thing:

    1) Understand what the company is looking for.

    2) Understand what the interviewer is looking for.

    3) Focus obsessively on showing how hiring you solves their needs.

    Everything else is window dressing.

    — 07/11/08 at 11:10 am

  • I agree with Chris. You’re missing some of the basics, which if this is your first job interview, you shouldn’t miss. Here’s my list.

    1. Know the position you’re applying for. It doesn’t matter if you knew that GE competes with Pratt and Whitney, if you’re going to be working on their data warehouse, and they need a mysql expert. They aren’t hiring you based on your knowledge of trivia about the company.

    2. Ask them what they’ve done already, and then tell them how you think you’d be able to help.

    3. Find out if the person interviewing you will be your boss, or your colleague, this is very good to know, are you going to be working with this asshole? or will you be taking orders from him?

    4. This is the most important one, and people mess this up all the time. Have them convince you, why they should work for you. Why should you wake up every morning, and drive to the office for them?

    — 07/13/08 at 3:09 pm

  • One of the best pieces of interview advice I ever got had to do with posture. If you take a seat in a regular upright office chair, it’s such a simple thing to:

    1) put your ass on the very end of the seat,
    2) keep on the balls of your feet, and
    3) sit up straight and maybe even lean forward slightly.

    The alternative is to slouch back. Never do that. Sit up and forward, with a taut body. If you have had your coffee and are normally alert (not spazzy), you will find that sitting in this fashion will make you seem bright, eager, active, alert — the sharp answers will practically spring from your tongue. If you are sitting back you are defensive and the sort of “ummm” answers that make you seem stupid (you are not) will dominate.

    — 07/15/08 at 3:47 pm

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