If you are about to leave school or college and are applying for your first job, the thought of your first job interview can be pretty scary.
Having a formal interview for a post which could launch you on your career is much more important than an interview for a casual student job such as working in a burger bar.
There will be a number of people shortlisted for the job and invited to interview. Every one of them has got past the first hurdle – they have produced a resume and cover letter or application form which proved they can do the job.
So you are competing against the best. If you want to get the job, you have to make sure that you stand out.
First of all, you must get the basics right. This means dressing appropriately for the interview. You’ll need to wear a business suit if you are going for a corporate job. In other industries, where dress code may be more casual, wear something a little smarter than you would expect to wear on the job.
Make sure you show up on time. You should work out the route in advance and time the journey. If possible, do a trial run at the same time of day as your interview. This will give you an idea of traffic conditions and help you find the building.
If you can’t do this, leave plenty of time on the day. It can be difficult to find some addresses, despite having a map. As if that’s not enough, you could find yourself faced with a company which is housed in several buildings with a complex network of connecting corridors. Arriving 5 minutes early is no good if it takes you 10 minutes to find the place you are meant to be.
Be sure to have the phone number handy so that you can let them know if something goes wrong on the journey, or an unavoidable crisis means you will be late.
Think about the type of questions you might be asked and come up with short intelligent answers. For a first job it’s likely you’ll be asked about your studies, why you have chosen this career or company. Make sure you know the answers.
It’s important to really think about your strengths and what you have to offer the company. What special contribution will you be able to make, which sets you apart from the other candidates?
Look at your work experience and find transferable skills – even if you have only worked as a waiter or waitress, you’ll have developed customer service and communication skills. Don’t forget about any clubs or societies you belonged to at college or any volunteering you were involved in.
Take a copy of your application to remind yourself of what you said and be sure you can explain any gaps in your resume. With the right preparation, you can ace that first interview.