Whether you are a freckly faced teenager looking for a part time job on weekends, or fresh out of college ready to start your new career, getting a job is not a walk in the park. Even if you know for a fact you are absolutely perfect for the job, you will be one of many applicants who are equally as perfect, so you will need to be able to communicate this to your potential future employer. A job interview is rarely great fun, and a first job interview comes with extra challenges.
Below is an overview and some tips on how to go about your first interview and walk away with that job you have been dreaming about.
Preparation is Key
The importance of getting to your interview prepared cannot be stressed enough. It is not enough to desperately want a job; you need to show that you are right for the job, and that you care about it. Job interviews are quite stressful environments so the worst thing you can do is wing it’ because you will get yourself so nervous and flustered you will forget you own name. Using the days before the interview to get prepared and do some research is critical to leaving a lasting and positive impression.
How to prepare for your interview.
- Learn about the company that you are applying for. Mispronouncing the company name or getting them mixed up with a competitor is the quickest way to end an interview early. You do not need to know the year they were founded or learn their mission statement by heart, but having some basic background knowledge definitely helps. Are they an American company? Are they family owned? Do they specialize in a particular product? Checking their homepage is a great way.
- Bring a copy of your resume and any supporting documents, such as letters of referral. Even if you have already sent them your resume, it will not hurt to bring one just in case. And if they have requested you bring a document (such as a particular referral or a particular licence) then do not forget this!
- Dress for the role. If you are applying for a fast food restaurant, then take out your facial piercings and wear clean, comfortable clothes. If you are applying for an office job, then modest corporate wear is important. Do not wear sunglasses or carry a skateboard.
- Prepare answers to some of the more common questions. Make sure you actually answer the questions in whole sentences. Examples of common questions:
- What do you think you can bring to the company? Or Why do you want to work for the company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Talk about a time you made a mistake / made an accomplishment / handled a difficult situation.
- What are your hobbies / interests / favorite book?
There is only one first impression
You may have heard your parents tell you over and over that it is important to make a good first impression, and this is one time you need to take their advice. It is quite literally true that there is only one first impression, and since job interviews are traditionally short, the first impression will have more of an effect as you will not have a significant amount of time to let your personality shine through.
You also need to realize that there is a very high chance that you are not the only candidate for a particular role. So the employer will have many first impressions. So make sure yours is pleasant and positive.
Tips to making a good impression
- Be confident yet pleasant. Introduce yourself clearly and firmly shake their hand. Making eye contact is important.
- Think about your body language and what it says. Do not slouch, cross your arms or tap your feet loudly.
- Do not be late. Get to the interview at least 15 minutes early.
After the Interview
The job application process should not end at the actual interview. Chances are there will be many applicants, all with identical qualifications. The interviewer then has to try to remember exactly who was who, and go through all the resumes to try to choose just one successful applicant.
The best thing to do is wait a day or two and then follow up with a phone call. Just simply reintroduce yourself and mention that you are still interested in the role. Even though they may not offer you the job over the phone, they will remember your name. This is not a sure fire way to be guaranteed the job, however it is a small step that requires nearly no effort that will give you a bigger chance of success.
In a Nutshell
At the end of the day, the interviewer is not out there to torture you. They want to find the best person for the job, so you need to think of them as a person and not as the enemy. Here are some final parting tips:
- Treat your interviewer with respect. Steer clear from the politically incorrect jokes or controversial comments.
- Do not talk unnecessarily or talk too loudly. Let them ask you questions and answer them clearly and succinctly.
- Ask questions, but make them relevant. Do not ask about money or work hours (unless you require flexibility).
- Remember, if you are perfect for the job, you will get it. If not, then take it as a learning opportunity and do not give up.