The first job interview is a big deal for most of us. Making an impression in the quarter of an hour, in an unfamiliar room, with strangers, can seem tough at the best of times. With your student loan hanging over your head, the thought of your first job interview can take you down rabbit holes of “interview nerves”.
It’s normal to be nervous. The only way you can tackle that nervousness is to prepare well in advance. If you’re prepared, it’s easier getting past the initial fears into a state of focus and calm self-awareness.
And when you’re preparing, there are few things you must keep in mind.
Read Up on the Company
It’s extremely important to know the position that you’re interviewing for. You’re obviously being seriously considered for it. One of the most unprofessional things you can do is to turn up without knowing much about the position. Or the company. Why should anyone hire an employee who doesn’t seem interested?
You can start preparing by visiting the company website, particularly the About Us page. Read up about the organization, its values and mission, its history and market share, etc. Look up the news that they’ve featured in. Are there any awards, disruptions and special initiatives that you should know about?
During your interview, it’s unlikely you’ll be asked about the company’s history. But if you know it, you’ll know its position in the industry today, and you’ll be able to frame your answers organically tailored with the company profile in mind. This will show your conscientiousness.
If you know who the interviewers will be, you have the advantage of being able to do some research on them. Have a look at their social media profiles and posts. If you find something that interests you, you will have conversation starters to break the ice and build a rapport. This can be a very useful strategy at a first interview when you don’t have any job experience to talk about.
Talk to Insiders
LinkedIn is an excellent platform to find people who have worked for the company in the past or are currently working. Strike up a conversation with them or drop them an email. You can find out a lot about the organization from alumni and current employees. Most people are happy to help out when asked for advice.
Prepare to Ask Some Questions Too
An interview is not just a chance for the interviewer to find out more about your fit with the company. It’s also a chance for you to find out how well you fit in with the company culture. In the process, you’ll come across as motivated, which is a bonus. Prepare your questions carefully to this end.
But frame your questions carefully, or you could end up sending the wrong message. If you ask about the company’s turnover, it can seem like you haven’t done your research. At the same time, avoid controversial topics that may have made the news. An interest in controversy can come across as frivolous.
Instead, ask questions related to the challenges facing the firm, for instance. If there has been a recent merger, for example, ask how the organization plans to integrate the cultures of the two companies. Or you could be straightforward and ask the interviewer’s opinion of the most important qualities for the job.
Don’t forget that your questions are not to impress, but to help you decide as well whether or not you’re a good fit.
Practise Mock Interviews
Since this is your first time, you may want to run through some practice sessions with professors or the Placement Committee. Ask them to set up a mock interview and tell you how you’ve done. You can also ask alumni at the workplace give you an idea of how interviews are held at the company. Write down potential questions and practise them. It’s a good idea to record yourself responding, so you can hear what you sound like.
The goal is to sound confident without seeming cocky or frivolous. You should respond with a small smile. A smile can make you seem sure of yourself, which is always a good thing. But at the same time, don’t smile too much. It could make you seem too frivolous.
Do Things Right the Night Before
The night before the interview, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do.
Getting good sleep is extremely important. If you don’t rest well, you may not be able to give your best. And since your first interview is a big test, not preparing enough could mean a false start that could set you back.
Also, make sure to eat safely. This means eating healthy so that you don’t end up sick on the morning of the interview. Prepare the clothes you’ll wear for an interview the night before. Keep them ironed and ready.
Plan how you’ll get to the interview. You don’t want to leave too late and end up getting stuck in traffic. On the day of the interview, a little yoga, mindfulness or even exercise will help you feel calmer for the day. You may want to avoid tea or coffee, however, if caffeine makes you anxious.
Make sure to turn up at least a quarter of an hour before the interview. That way, you’ll have some time to take stock of your surroundings and orient yourself. Rushing into the interview room will make you feel underprepared, and this will undermine your composure.
This may not be the only interview you will be appearing for. Develop a little ritual that you can turn back to for every interview. It will make you feel prepared and help you stay calmer during interviews. After a while, appearing for a job interview will become easy.
With these tips in mind, you can go ahead and start preparing for your upcoming interview. Stay confident and sleep well. You should be good to go. All the best!