So, you got your first job interview, congratulations! Now what? Before the big day, you have some preparations to do so that you are ready to handle the questions you will be asked and to ask a few of your own.

Two man doing the interview

This article will help you get prepared for the interview and give first job interview tips for things you should do before, during and after. Before we get started, you just have to remember to breathe. You got a callback and an interview scheduled.

This means they saw something in you that they want or need. The hard part is over, let’s make this interview fun!

Things to do Before the Interview

Man in White Holding a paper

After you have received the call about the interview, you will want to tell your friends and family, and then the stress will begin to set in. Your mind will probably race with thousands of questions that you don’t have the answers to.

The first step is always to relax. You will want to research the company you are about to interview for. You want to put their name in a search engine and read reviews, company history, and most importantly, the company plans and goals for the future.

The best place to find this information is on their website. Look at the “about us” section and try to figure out where the position you applied for fits in. Everyone has a job that the company will use to meet their goals, how can you help?

You should be writing all of this down. Not just the first job interview tips, but the information you are researching. Ask questions about the company, the people that work for it and their plans for the future, then do your research and try to answer those questions.

A few days before the interview you need to go to the building itself. There are a couple of reasons. The primary reason is so that you know how to get there.

Time how long it takes you and if possible, drive there at the time of your interview so you can gauge things like traffic and stop lights. You don’t want to be late on the big day!

The secondary reason for the trip is to look around. You want to look at the people that work there, see what they are doing and more importantly, what they are wearing. This will help you decide what your interview outfit should be.

The day before the interview you will want to call them to verify the interview and the interview time. Once you have confirmed the time and location (and that you will be there), it is time to prepare for the following day.

You will want to eat a good dinner the night before and get your outfit ready, so you aren’t scrambling around in the morning. Anything to help reduce the stress factors that you can do, the better.

Bathing, styling your hair, brushing your teeth, etc. should all be done regularly anyway. The night before (or the morning of, if you are a morning shower person) should be handled.

What about the outfit? That is why you went there and looked at what the current employees are wearing. If everyone is wearing khaki pants and button down shirts, that is what you should wear. Likewise, if they wear black pants, you should too.

The idea is that you should dress in a manner that the interviewers are accustomed to seeing. The theory is that they will see you as an employee right away and conduct the interview as such. If you stand out too much, it can have negative results.

Wear dress clothes regardless. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Never wear jeans or shorts to an interview. Always wear slacks or pants and a belt, or a respectable length dress.
  • Comb, wash, dry and style your hair and make sure your clothes are clean and presentable.
  • Use an iron.
  • Wear deodorant.
  • Don’t wear cologne or perfume (you never know what someone is allergic to, you want to smell clean, not offensive).
  • Unless the interview is business formal, you don’t have to wear a tie.
  • Wear a tie, gentlemen.
  • Skip the tuxedo and formal suit, unless, of course, that is the job
  • Wear dress shoes, heels, or pumps.
  • Don’t wear sneakers, flip-flops or go barefoot.

The Big Day

Man in pink talking with the girl

The interview day has arrived, and you are cleaned, washed, groomed and ready. Make sure you eat something small for breakfast, so your stomach doesn’t grumble. Double check your appearance and head out the door.

You should plan to arrive 15 minutes early. So if your interview is at 10:00, you will want to be there no later than 9:45. If you arrive too early, you can sit in the car for a few minutes before going in.

Once inside, announce your presence; don’t be obnoxious. Just go to the receptionist, clerk or greeter and tell them your name and why you are there.

Remember to breathe.

Woman using laptop

Important Note: You are about to be interviewed for a job. Keep in mind this one fact: The interview is also to see if you want to work for them. It is a two-way street; you are interviewing just as much as you are being interviewed.

Once you are called, stand up, brush yourself off and lead with a handshake. Make eye contact, smile and greet with your name and make sure to listen for theirs.

During the Interview

Man and Woman doing an interview

An interview is a basic question and answers session, and it goes both ways. When you give your answers, keep two things in mind

  • Answers should be thought out and complete, no single word answers. Ever.
  • Answers should be about the position only. If they ask about you personally, answer about you and the relevance to the position

That second point is important. The dreaded “tell us about yourself” question doesn’t mean, “Do you have any pets? What’s your favorite color? Where were you born?” It means “How can you help this company succeed?

When you answer, give relevance. Remember your research? How do you fit in? Tell them.

Then, it is your turn. The final question you will hear is “Do you have any questions for us?” Your answer should be “yes, I do.” and then ask your questions

If you are completely prepared, you will have a pen and a professional looking notebook. Your questions should be written down, and you should write down their answers

Some questions to consider are things like: (keep in mind your questions should impress and compliment the company

  • I see the company has plans to expand in the next year. How will my position fit in with that expansion?
  • It appears that this company likes to promote from within before seeking outside assistance. When hired, what does the advancement opportunities for my position look like?
  • If I have given this company five years of my time and dedication, what can I expect in return?

When asking your questions, you should state things that make it sound like you already have the job. If you noticed in the example questions, I said things like “my position,” “when hired,” “my time and dedication.” If you see yourself in the job, so will the interviewers

Your final question should always be: “Have I given you any indication during this interview that I would not be a suitable candidate for the position? If so, I would like to correct that.

You ask this question for two reasons: First, it will tell you, based on their answers how they felt the interview went (after their shock wears off from being unexpectedly put on the spot) which is something every interviewee wonders for days afterward. Ask this question, and you will know.

Second, if there are areas of concern, they will tell you, and you will have the opportunity to explain or correct.

For example, if they say something about a lack of schooling that is required (if they want a masters degree and you don’t have one). You can tell them of your plans to continue school, mention any educational opportunities the company offers that you would like to take part in, or how you are attending and will have it soon enough.

After the Interview

Two man shakes hands

Be sure to stand, shake hands again and thank the interviewers for their time. If they have told you they will get back to you, try to find out a time frame. Write this information down.

After you get home, changed and have relaxed a bit, know that you did well. Then give the company seven to ten days. If you haven’t heard back, do a follow-up phone call. Ask to speak to the person who conducted the interview and ask for a status update.

Your new job is waiting. Don’t be afraid to go get it. With these first job interview tips, you will earn that position. Good Luck!