HomeBlogJob Interview Preparation: 8 Essential Tips to Landing Your First Job
A job interview is a chance for you to show an employer you're the right person for the job. But job interviews can feel intimidating and stressful, and even if you’ve been through a few before, you may still walk away feeling like a nervous mess. Fortunately, effective preparation can help you overcome common challenges. From presentation and practising your answers to etiquette and body language, these eight strategies could boost your chances of landing the job.
1. Dress appropriately
Dress well and make a great first impression. Plan your interview outfit ahead of time so you're not scrambling to decide what to wear at the last minute. Dress appropriately for the role and the company; this could be casual business attire, for instance, a button down shirt and chinos. Try out your outfit to make sure you're comfortable in it. If you'll be working in a more casual environment such as a store or cafe, you should still make sure you're well-groomed and neatly presented.
2. Plan for arriving on time
Research the interview location and plan your trip so you arrive on time. Check traffic conditions so you can set off early and give yourself plenty of travel time, whether you're driving or catching public transport. Aim to arrive 15 minutes before the start time so you can freshen up, have a drink of water, and refocus before the interview.
3. Bring resume and references
You don't have to bring anything special to your interview unless you're asked to, but it’s a good idea to have extra paper copies of your resume and a list of references on hand. Remember to turn off your phone and finish your cup of coffee in the lobby or waiting room rather than taking in it with you.
4. Research the company and role
Know the company and the job inside out. The job description is key to understanding what the organisation is looking for in a candidate. List the skills, knowledge, experience, and qualities associated with the role to get a better understanding of what's required. Understand the company and its mission. Then explore your own experience and skills to identify how they match with the role and the values of the organisation. This will give you a solid basis for answering interview questions.
5. Practise your answers
Think about the questions you'll likely be asked and practice your answers, drawing on what you've researched about the role and the company. It's also useful to have a one-minute elevator pitch prepared about yourself so you can tailor this to any general questions about why they should hire you.
Keep in mind employers value both hard and soft skills, so make sure you address both types of skills where relevant.
Hard skills - Hard skills are technical abilities that can be taught, such as coding, bookkeeping knowledge, social media, and sales.
Soft skills - Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that also support your success in a role. Examples include written communication, teamwork, planning, problem-solving, and creativity.
6. Follow interview etiquette
Politely greet the receptionist and interviewer, and be pleasant and enthusiastic throughout your interview. Shake hands if you're offered a hand and use your body language to assert confidence and reassurance - a smile goes a long way!
Avoid talking too much or being too casual and familiar. Match the interviewer's pace and tone, and don't give out more information than you need to answer the question well. If you're well-prepared, you'll be less likely to ramble without focus during the interview. Avoid things like criticising your previous employer and pointing out your own weaknesses.
7. Prepare questions to ask
Make sure you've prepared questions to ask. This shows the employer you have a genuine interest in the role and the organisation. Additionally, it's an opportunity for you to find out more about the job and whether it's a good fit for you.
8. Use positive body language
Sit still with your feet on the ground and avoid fidgeting during your interview. Keep your back straight, not slouched, and lean against the back of your chair. Make face contact rather than eye contact; look at different parts of the interviewer's face to show your interest instead of drilling your gaze into their eyes.
Listen carefully and look attentive and interested as your interviewers ask questions. Nodding your head and leaning in shows interest, while gesturing with your hands and showing your palm could boost a sense of trustworthiness.
Job interviews involve quite a bit of preparation, and you'll want to dress appropriately, arrive on time, and have some practice answers to work off. Make sure you follow interview etiquette, show interest, and project positive body language. With the right research and preparation, you'll give yourself the best chance of securing a great job with the right organisation.
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