Interview Tips for First Time Interviews

There is a first time for everything, and interviews are one of the most stressful “first encounters” you will have in your life. But your first interview doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some tips to help you navigate through the experience:

Know your Objective

Since you only want to be invited back, convince employers you have the traits they are seeking. Most companies want to hire positive, high-energy people who work well with others and can get things done. Of two candidates with nearly identical experience, the one who demonstrates these positive qualities during the first interview is more likely to reach the next stage.

Know your strengths and skills

Make a list of career highlights that you’re especially proud of before the interview so if you’re asked the open-ended, “Tell me about yourself” question, you’ll know what to say. Instead of rambling about school experiences, you can start off with career achievements. The need to sell yourself early on in the interview process by demonstrating how you can contribute to meeting company objectives shouldn’t be underestimated.

Know the interviewing process

If you understand the four stages of the interviewing process, you’ll know what to focus on at each point.I. An introduction, which includes general greetings and “small talk”. Remember that the interviewer is forming his or her first–and possibly most lasting–impression of you.

Come across as polished and well-prepared by mastering such “learned” skills as dressing well, making eye contact, shaking hands firmly, showing confidence and engaging in small talk.

The Four States of the Interview Process

  1. The interview starts when the two of you see each other, not with the actual questions.
  2. Questions about you. The most critical part of the process occurs after you sit down, possibly with an innocent-sounding question like, “So, tell me a little about yourself.” Now you’re on the stage where you need to shine most. If you’ve listed your specific accomplishments in advance, your replies will be on target and substantial.
  3. Describing the company. How much you’re told about the company may indicate the degree of interest it has in you. If the interviewer rushes through the description, however, don’t assume the job is lost. You still have an opportunity to shine.
  4. Asking questions. Use this opportunity to show you’re smart, interested and hard working. Queries such as, “What are you looking for in a candidate?” allow you to compare your earlier answers with the interviewer’s requirements. If you fell short in certain areas, you can reinforce them now. Other questions that can help you assess whether you should amend earlier answers include:
  • What are the backgrounds of people you’ve hired in the past?
  • What skills are critical to succeeding here?
  • Could you tell me a little about how you got to where you are?

Know what they want to see

Don’t bare your soul during a first meeting. Project the energy, interest, enthusiasm, people skills and experience you’ll bring to the job, but don’t reveal your deepest fears. Even if you’ve been unemployed for an extended period, don’t come across as insecure, desperate or depressed.

Act like a confident, high-energy professional. You want to look, feel and be spontaneous, but deliver a prepared message verbally and through body language. Studies show that candidates are rejected for many reasons, including being poorly dressed, passive, unenthusiastic, uninformed or for failing to make eye contact.

Communicating badly, not showing confidence or shaking hands limply also are interview “knock-outs”.  After working so hard to gain an entree, you owe it to yourself to understand and master the nuances of your first personal contact with an employer. Even if you don’t accept the position, the career benefits of gaining control over this potentially stressful situation are worth the effort.

Telephone Interviews

When speaking on the telephone sit up and concentrate. In a telephone interview, you don’t have the benefit of the interviewer seeing your enthusiasm–it has to come across in your voice.

Smile. Believe it or not, smiling as you talk makes your voice sound much more friendly and enthusiastic.

Hold the mouthpiece one-inch away, keep non-words (ahh, umm) to a minimum, enunciate well, take notes, use your resume as a reference and speak in a professional tone voice.

Stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted by background noises.

Write down the person’s name and use it during the interview.

Ask about the next step at the close and send a thank-you note.