There is a lot that can go into preparing for your first interview and quite honestly, this can seem a bit overwhelming. What should I do, what should I say, do I arrive early, and am I supposed to “act like myself?” All are good questions, and there are perfectly good answers too! The best way to prepare for something like this is with small steps. When eating an elephant, take one bite a time right. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to be a little nervous, that’s how you grow and become better in life.
Okay, so you’ve found the perfect job, applied and have been invited in for an interview, what now?
The first step: Do a little research into the company. You want to know who they are and what they are about so you will be more prepared to answer questions like “tell me why you want to work here?” It is also helpful to know the types of customers you might interact with, or how long the company has been operating in your area.
The second step: Learn more about the job. You may find, after digging a little deeper, that there are other aspects you were not aware of. Find out as much as you can to avoid surprises in the interview. Do you know someone who has worked in a similar position before, or even at the same company? Ask them, chances are they can tell you about the interview process and what you need to know for your interview.
Do you have your resume prepared yet?
Everyone needs a resume for an interview. I’m sure you’re telling yourself, “I’ve never had a job! What could I possibly put on a resume?” In its basic and most simple form, a resume is just a story about yourself that you can use to tell an employer who you are. On a resume for a first job, include activities you participated in or clubs you’ve belonged to in school. It could also include what your interests are or where you plan on going to college.
Are you active in your community? Highlight any volunteer work you have done, or even projects you have completed in school. The hiring manager is just trying to determine if you can fit in with other people that work there or if you have demonstrated in the past that you have performed a similar job. For example, if you are applying for a customer service position, what have you done in your past that lets them know you can be friendly?
Practice your interviewing skills.
Practice makes perfect is something I’m sure you’ve heard before. Have a friend or family member ask you sample interview questions so you can perfect your answers. Remember though, as much as you practice, you will be asked a question you have not prepared for. That’s ok, just think about it and answer as best you can. This is not a timed event, the interviewer just wants to get a good idea of who you are. Don’t be afraid to tell them you don’t know the answer to something, it’s better to be authentic and truthful than to make something up.
Typically, towards the end of the interview, they will give you a chance to ask them questions. Make sure you have a few questions for them too. They are looking to see if you prepared, which is something almost every first time interviewee forgets. This is a two-way street, you want to make sure that it’s a good fit for you too, so have a question ready that you would like answered. For example, “Why do employees like working here?”