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5 Tips for Acing Your First Interview

Posted By Sarah on 27th May, 2017

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than your very first interview … and for good reason! You’re new to the interview process and you might not have much experience.

So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting the job?

Well, when it comes to interviewing, there’s a single golden rule …

Be prepared!

“33% of bosses claim they know if they will hire someone within the first 90 seconds of their interview” – CareerGeek

 Interviewers can tell when someone shows up unprepared and are quick to write off anyone who hasn’t done their research beforehand.

So how can you prove you are prepared? Take a look at our top tips below in order to ace your first interview!

Person in an interview.

1) Clarify your questions with the interviewer.

A common problem that many first-time interviewees run into is that they’re afraid to ask questions if they don’t understand something. This can lead to giving a response that doesn’t really answer the question and leaves the interviewer hanging.

If you don’t completely understand a question or feel unsure about what the interviewer is asking, feel free to ask for clarification! Questions are a way for the interviewer to get to know you, but it only works if you understand what they’re asking. Many interview questions can be interpreted in multiple ways, so don’t feel shy about voicing any questions you have.

Presentation

2) Show, don’t tell.

During an interview, it’s not enough to just say that you’re a team player or good at time management. Anyone can say that they’re good at something. Instead, give the interviewer concrete examples and results that show you’re perfect for the job rather than tell.

For instance, instead of saying, “I am a team player”, consider telling the interviewer about a past experience where you led a group effort to success. Saying, “I served as a team lead at my last job and was able to raise productivity rates by 20% in my time there” sounds impressive and shows the interviewer you were able to bring about positive results. If you have limited work experience, use examples from volunteer work or school.

Company needs

3) Figure out what the company needs.

When a position opens up, it’s because the company is experiencing a lack of something and wants to fill that need. It’s up to you to figure out what that need is and then position yourself as the best person to fill it.

Common ways to do this include:

  • Analyzing the text of the job advertisement
  • Researching any current or upcoming changes in the company
  • Asking the interviewer

Once you know what the company is looking for, you can take stock of your own skills and abilities and figure out how they can benefit the company.

Prepare questions

4) Prepare your own questions.

An interview is similar to a conversation. The interviewer is there to find out if you’re a good fit for the company, and you’re there to find out if the company is a good fit for you. If you don’t ask any questions of your own, it will set off red flags for the interviewer.

When preparing, there are a few questions that should be asked during almost any interview. Some common ones include:

  • “Are there any skills missing on your current team that you’re hoping to fill with this position?
  • “Where do you want your department to be within the next five years?”
  • “What does success look like in this specific position? What goals do you expect this person to accomplish within the first three months?”

Remember … you want to make sure this is a position that you will do well and be happy in. If you don’t ask any questions and are ready to start at the drop of a hat, it could come off as desperate to the interviewer and ruin your chances of getting the job.

Be honest with yourself.

5) Be honest.

Interviewers are trained professionals who can sense dishonesty. It’s important to be as honest and genuine as possible during an interview so the interviewer can get a good idea of whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the company.

If the interviewer asks questions you don’t want to answer such as why you left your last company, don’t panic! You can give an honest answer while keeping the details of the situation to yourself. Answers such as “I felt we were moving in different directions” or “There was no room for growth” are professional responses that are widely accepted.

Interview Don’ts

Just as important as knowing what to do in an interview is knowing what not to do. There are several interview faux pas in the on-boarding process, and it’s crucial to know what they are and avoid them. Take a look at our interview don’ts below:

  • Don’t … bring up the pay rate. Asking about your salary before being offered the position is widely considered inappropriate and can cost you the job.
  • Don’t … show up late. Showing up late to an interview tells the interviewer that you don’t really care about the job and can’t be trusted to come to work on time. Instead, try to show up ten to fifteen minutes early.
  • Don’t … ask about a promotion. While it’s okay to ask if the company offers opportunities for professional growth, asking an interviewer how long it will be before you get a promotion is a surefire way to make sure you don’t get the job.
  • Don’t … speak badly about former employers or co-workers. Stay professional and keep the conversation brief if you don’t have anything positive to say.
  • Don’t … eat, drink, or chew gum during the interview. Even if the interviewer has a drink, he works there — you don’t. Keep things professional.
  • Don’t … give short answers. While the interviewer doesn’t want to hear your life story, give them something to work with. Providing examples, evidence, and real-life anecdotes will go a long way toward getting you the job.

Don’t … worry — it gets easier!

Although your first interview may seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, we’re here to tell you it gets easier! If you follow these five tips and take some time to prepare your answers, you will be well on your way toward acing your first interview.

Still feeling nervous? Use our Interview Simulator to take full length mock interviews with questions tailored to your specific qualifications!

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Questions to Ask

The questions you ask are almost as important as the answers you give during an interview. Determine which questions to ask and why they’re important.

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