8 Tips to Get Success in Your First Interview

People waiting for an interview

Guest contributed by Susan Saurel

First round interviews help employers select a smaller pool of most qualified candidates for their open job positions.

For this reason, they’re typically less thorough than the second or third interview rounds. Still, your job of preparing for the first interview isn’t any easier. Your goal is always to make a terrific impression and to perfectly convey why you are the best fit for the job they’re trying to fill. Good, solid preparation is key to success, so here are our tips on how to make sure you always bring your A-game:

1. Do Your Homework. Know Who You Talk to

Not knowing enough about the company you’re interviewing for is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a job interview. Company research is a critical part of the preparation process.

Start with the company’s website; study their About page, their mission and top executives; get to know their products and services; and read current press releases to stay up to date with what’s going on in the company now. You can also “google” the company, check their blogs, social media, and read reviews from clients, current and former employees to get a feel of “who” the company is and how you can embody a similar personality during the interview.

2. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses for this Particular Role

Take time to analyze the job posting, the in-depth position description, the required set of skills, knowledge, professional and personal qualities that the employer considers critical for success at the workplace. Then, do your best to answer the question “Why am I the perfect fit for this job?”. Identify the unique qualities about you, including your expertise, relevant certificates and professional qualifications, as well as specific examples for when you’ve gone above and beyond to solve a problem, or accomplish what no one else has managed to do.

3. Google Yourself

Great resumes and cover letters are at the tip of your fingers with the help of cheap writing services. But that’s not enough these days. Employers are also interested in your online personal brand.

Find out ahead what Google says about you, and make sure to manage and optimize your appearance online so it won’t hold you back from that dream job you want. If there’s anything negative about you that you cannot fix, you’ll be able to have a ready response that clarifies employers’ concerns. Try not to get too defensive though, but simply respond and move on to the next question.

4. Prepare Answers to The Most Common Interview Questions

Industry giants like Google, Bain & Co., and Amazon, are known for surprising their applicants with unusual and confusing interview questions. However, most of the other companies will generally stick to their lists of common questions, like the dreading “Can you tell me a little about yourself?”, “What do you consider to be your greatest strength, and weakness?”, and “Why do you think you will be a good fit for this position?”.

Prepare good answers to a list of most likely questions. The “tell me about yourself” part is just a warm-up, so don’t waste your best points on it; just briefly cover your early years, education, work history, and most recent career experience. When you talk about your weaknesses you want to have a positive twist to it. Mention something you struggle with but work on improving, like taking on leadership roles to tackle the fear of public speaking.

5. Write Down a Few Smart Questions to Ask at The End of the Interview

Interviews are two-way conversations. By the end of it you’ll get a chance to ask your own questions, and gain better understanding of the company you’re about to join and your particular role in it. This is a great opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation and show your interviewer that you care about the position.

Write down two or three thoughtful, open-ended questions, to make sure you end the interview strong and differentiate yourself from the rest of the candidates. Some great examples include:

  • What do you like best about your job and working for this company?
  • How would you describe the work culture at the office?
  • What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
6. Practice Makes It Perfect!

Now that you have your questions and answers ready, it’s time to practice them to perfection. This doesn’t mean learning them by heart, but rather keeping in mind the important bullet points so you can stay calm and not scrambling for an answer while in the hot interview seat.

Do mock interviews with a friend, colleague, or a career coach, and practice speaking clearly and concisely, listing your most relevant skills, experiences and achievements. Answering the question “What can you bring to this position?” will be a lot easier if practiced then when doing it the first time.

7. Dress for Success!

First impression can make or break a business, and your outside appearance is a large portion of it. Prepare a professional looking wardrobe that fits the culture of the organization. For men the dress code is usually pretty straightforward; a suit and a tie is always a sure thing. Women can wear a dress, a skirt and a blouse, or some elegant pants with a shirt. Keep accessories, jewelry and make-up to a minimum. Make sure your outfit is clean and ironed, your hair is tidy, and your shoes are shinning.

When you look your best you also feel your best, and feeling good about yourself helps boost your confidence, which is crucial for nailing an interview.

8. Arrive Ready and On Time, Get Comfortable, and Stay Positive

Prepare extra copies of your resume, samples of previous quality work, a reference list, and some paper and pens to jot down notes. Make sure to always arrive on time, or at least 15 minutes before the interview to allow yourself some time to settle, and possibly observe the dynamics of the workplace you’re about to join.

Practice calming your nerves and getting relaxed before the interview, as this will improve your confidence in the eyes of the hiring manager. Remind yourself that not getting the job is the worst thing that can happen.

Oftentimes the first interview will not be your last interview. After the first round companies will follow up with a second or even a third interview round to get to their best candidate. Stick to these basics, prepare well, and you can be sure that all your interviews are a success.

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