Congratulations on exploring your opportunities to get your first job! Making it through to the interview is a good sign, as many job applicants may not arrive to this stage.
This guide contains valuable interview tips for first time job seekers specifically. If you’re only taking general advice about interviews, you may miss out on the subtle differences that come along with first time job interviews.
Read on to learn how best to prepare before, during and after your first job interview, with some sample questions for you to consider your answers to as well.
27+ Interview Tips For First Time Job Seekers
How to prepare: Interview tips for first time job seekers
Before you take the interview, you can do some ground work through researching the company and compiling all the info you need to walk into that interview confident that you can roll with whatever may come up.
1. Learn about the company before your interview.
Google it, see relevant recent news, scour the website, go into the physical location, if possible. That way the interviewer will tell that you are familiar with the business with the way you answer questions by referencing what you already know about the company.
2. Look back to the job posting and highlight keywords.
These keywords will be under the required or desired skills and qualities, as well as the responsibilities that the role includes. Write out a list of these and remember them so that they are in your mind and you take them into account in how you word your answers and explanations during the interview.
3. Write a list of your personal strengths.
Next to each one, write how that strength may help you in a relevant scenario when it comes to this role. For example, ‘I am good at multitasking’, and if the job is a hospitality barista role, you might imagine that it could help you take orders while you are making coffee at the same time.
4. Practice the interview.
Practicing with a trusted friend, family member, or perhaps a teacher will be very helpful. Go a level up and even record your interview so you can see how you look and sounds. This is a very telling exercise, as you may be presenting an image that you had no idea you were!
5. Select an outfit early.
You should aim for business-smart attire, looking professional and clean-cut. If you wait until the day of the interview and realise you don’t have any professional style clothes, then you’ll be stuck. Prep what you are going to wear beforehand. In case you need to get some more clothes, or borrow an outfit, you’ll have time to do so.
6. Plan your journey to the interview.
If you can visit the location sometime before the meeting, that would be great as you will then know how long it will take to get there. You don’t want to risk turning up late because you got lost trying to find the building or room.
During the interview tips for first time job seekers
There are some key things to remember in order to feel like you’re making the best impression that you can as the interview is happening. Below are the most important tips for the actual interview process for first timers.
7. Arrive very early.
If you’ve never had a professional meeting before, then you may not realise that arriving ‘on time’, as in 9:00am when the interview is scheduled for 9:00am is considered late. So know that 15 minutes (at least) is when you need to arrive.
8. Nerves will be present. Breathe and be patient with yourself.
Sometimes first job interviews can be so intimidating that the applicant is rushing through their answers in a bid to get it over with as fast as possible. This will show your nerves and will not be a good sign to the hiring manager. So take your time, breathe in between sentences, and let yourself think before you answer.
9. Make eye contact and have open body language.
Open style body language is essential. Sit up tall, don’t cross your arms over your chest or clasp your hands together, and adopt a relaxed energy so that you look confident in yourself.
10. Be honest.
If the interviewer asks a question where you feel like the real answer might not sound so good, like ‘can you use excel expertly?’ Don’t lie just to sound better. If you get the role and it comes out later that you don’t know, you could forever be seen as untrustworthy. Instead, answer in a way where you are being honest, yet also offering how you can meet this requirement, for example, ‘I have a basic knowledge of excel, but I am willing to put time in to learn more specific skills with the program.’
11. Be positive – smile!
You don’t need to go overboard and act crazy happy if you’re not feeling it – that will be a little too overbearing. Simply get into an optimistic mindset before the interview, get enough sleep the night before, do what you need to do to get into a good mood, and let this positive energy be felt by the interviewer.
Best way to follow up after an interview for first time first time job seekers
After the interview is complete (we bet that feels good to be over!), there are a few steps to take to increase your chance of success. The following tips to follow up the interview will keep you in the mind of the interviewer for longer, rather than potentially getting lost in the sea of applicants and not leaving a lasting impression.
12. Use their name.
Directly after the interview, as you are saying goodbye, use their first name and say ‘I look forward to hearing your response, I enjoyed this meeting and feel like this role is such a great match for us.’ This shows that you are confident and simply using their first name again will be a memorable moment for them.
13. Be patient.
Wait a day (24 hours) until you send a follow-up thank you email. The email shouldn’t be you asking for their decision. Just say thank you for the interview and again, that you look forward to hearing from them.
14. Wait a week.
If you don’t receive a response from your follow up within a week, send a second follow-up email asking whether they received your first email, and if they need more information from you to help with their decision.
You’ve done all you could do, so there’s no need to work yourself up thinking about what you should have said or done differently. It’s done, and it’s in the interviewers hands now.
Questions to ask the interviewer
Some lesser known interview tips for first time job seekers include asking some thoughtful questions to the interviewer. They may outright ask you ‘do you have any questions for me?’ Or there may be a space in the conversation that opens up for you to ask the following questions. These will show that you are serious about the role and inspired about the prospect of working for them.
16. Where do you see this company headed in the next 3 years?
17. What do you love most about working for [company name]?
18. What’s one of the most memorable moments of your own career?
19. What qualities do you feel the best workers have?
20. Is there an opportunity to advance within the company?
21. How long do you feel this recruitment process will last?
Common questions: Interview tips for first time job seekers
Preparing answers to the most commonly asked questions will help you when you are put on the spot. The following questions may come up in the interview, so read through to be prepared to answer. The tip here is to write down your own answers to these questions, or practice out loud what you could say to each of these questions.
22. ‘Why do you want to work here?’
23. ‘What is your availability?’
24. ‘What is one of your career goals?’
25. ‘Why do you feel ready for your first job?’
26. ‘How do you handle stressful situations?’
27. ‘How do you work within a team?’