Starting work after graduating can be challenging if you don’t have a few interview tips up your sleeve. Interviews are often frightening, especially when you are going for your first job interview. There is immense pressure to look professional, impress the interviewer, and remain calm.
When you have only seven seconds to cast a good first impression over the interviewer, the conditions become even worse. Remember, if you have received an interview call, then you are among the very few candidates who have made it possible and have successfully aced the many rounds before an interview. You now have to sweep the interviewers off of their feet and the dream job won’t be too far from your reach.
How to prepare for your first job interview?
You need to keep a close watch on the latest job interview trends and navigate the complex job market. Get an idea of what employers may expect from you. Consider going through the following tips for your successful first interview.
🟢Research the Company and the Job Posting
Spend some time researching the company. Make yourself familiar with its work and operations. To know more about an organisation, navigate its website and social media channels. You must be familiar with the company's products and services to help you understand and convince the interviewer how you can add value to the organisation.
🟢Study From the Right Resources
Choosing the right set of tools for preparing for programming interviews is imperative. There are many YouTube resources for programming, like Preplaced Interview YT Channel or Nick White's YouTube video My Data Structure and Algorithms for Coding Interviews. You can also go through GeeksforGeeks, which is a popular platform to practise interview questions for freshers.
🟢Strengthening Skill Sets
Research the areas that need improvement. Practise how to think out loud. Talking to yourself is a way to boost your confidence. Rehearse interview questions with the help of online mock interviews, aptitude tests, and various online problem-solving exercises.
🟢Practice Answers Using the STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Result
During your job interview, you may have to go through a set of questions based on behaviour and situational awareness. Practice answers with a storytelling format using the 'STAR'. For example, create a situation, then assign yourself a task and what appropriate action you took, and then define the outcome as the final result.
🟢Take Feedback From Your Mentor
You can practise your answers with a mentor. Find a companion or good mentor who can provide you with the right feedback. Let them highlight your weaker areas where you need to practise more. An experienced person in the same field you are applying to may be a good mentor, but your friend can also help boost your confidence.
🟢Focus on Your Body Language
Your body speaks much about you and never lies. The first thing most interviewers notice is the way a candidate carries himself. Maintaining a good and sound posture, direct eye contact with the interviewer, a confident appearance, appropriate hand gestures, calm and attentive attitude are some of the positive body signs you need to maintain during your interview.
🟢Maintain a List of References
Prepare a list of recommendations that include your teachers, community leaders, family friends, and any references in the organisation you are applying to. These people must know about your academics and social achievements and should be ready to share with the interviewer.
🟢Finalise an Appropriate Attire for a Good First Impression
It is always important to dress professionally. Different industry segments have different cultures and may be casual in their dressing sense, but you must present yourself in a very professional way. Ensure to pick tasteful and fitted clothing, and stay away from overly distracting colours.
🟢Write Down Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Prepare a list of the queries you would like to discuss with the employer before you attend your first job interview. The quality of your questions shows your enthusiasm level towards the job. ask, “What do you expect for me in this job?” or “What is the most significant thing I should achieve in the first 3 months in this position?”, etc.
🟢Create an Interesting Resume
A well-written resume is also one of the critical factors that can make a good impression on the interviewer. If you don't have work experience to write in your resume, don't hesitate to include informal experience, volunteering, academic achievements, or your participation in sports activities.
How to Deal With Pre-Interview Nerves?
You have studied every bit and detail of the company, and have gone through every possible interview question, but your nerves can still creep in while facing an interviewer. Often the nerves and pressure of an interview make us act differently. You can even feel that the sound coming from your mouth is not the usual one. Below are some tips to help relieve nervousness at this moment.
🔹️Stay Cool and Collected:
It is always possible to overcome your biggest fear when you learn how to stay calm in any situation. If you are worried about not providing a better response to a tricky situation, be proactive and learn how to cover your tracks.
🔹️Stay Ahead of Your Negative Thoughts:
Most of the time, it is not the situation that causes anxiety, but our perception of failing that makes us nervous. Getting over your negativity and rationalising your fears is an important tip to deal with interview nerves.
🔹️Adopt Positive Self-Talk Therapy:
The way we talk to ourselves has a powerful impact on our actions. Embrace positive self-talk, and try to visualise how you will feel once you have knocked your interviewer.
🔹️Don’t Forget that the Interviewer is Just another Human, Like You:
Remind yourself that you are not in the middle of something unusual. You are facing another human being, and it is just a formal conversation. Your interviewers are experienced and know how to deal with first-timers.
🔹️Breathe Deep and Slow and Practise ‘STOP’:
Deep breathing helps us overcome stressful situations in our lives, including job interviews. Learn the steps of ‘STOP’, a mindful technique to calm you down.
- Stop what you are presently doing and pause your thoughts
- Take deep breaths and connect to your breathing
- Observe the happenings inside and outside your body
- Proceed with more awareness
What Questions Should You Expect?
Interviewers do enjoy listening to a few specific things and certain things they never want to hear. They try to design a well-set questionnaire to judge you and check your soft skills. Some sample questions with the answers below may help you avoid the potential trap.
✪ Can you please elaborate more on the working of our organisation?
This answer will reveal how much research you have done before applying. Employers don't like a candidate applying randomly to several positions every day.
✪ Why do you want to apply to our organisation for this position?
By asking this, the interviewer wants to ensure the time you have spent on your research and that you know what your job demands. While answering, you must express your passion for the employer's product or services.
✪ How will your academic career support you in working in this position?
This one is tricky and reveals whether you made practical and real-world connections between your academics and the world of work. Answering this question carefully provides you with a chance to state personal situations that motivated you to work hard. Remember that the interviewer wants to judge your adaptability to real-life situations, and you need to answer accordingly.
✪ What makes you a good candidate to fit this position?
There are many ways to answer this, and the best is to emphasise your unique skills. Most often, the skills the employer is seeking are mentioned in the job posting. Relate your answer with these skills and show your confidence in your abilities.
✪How do you rate your collaboration skills?
If you are a strong collaborator, you can work well in a team. Recruiters believe that candidates with good collaboration skills are better candidates as they show that you are open-minded and adaptable.
✪ Are you comfortable working in a team or as an individual?
When facing your first job interview, a typical question may be about your preference for working independently or in a team. There may be no wrong answer to this question, as the interviewer genuinely wants to understand the kind of environment that suits you best.
✪ What is the achievement that you value most?
Be more careful while answering this question as you have to explain your accomplishment concerning the role you are applying for. Your answer should show your greatest achievement and must also be relevant to the team’s needs in the organisation.
✪ How will you deal with adversity?
Your ability to overcome adverse situations allows the interviewer to evaluate your problem-solving skills. How you respond to adversity explains your overall work style and how you will deal with challenging employees and demanding targets of the company you are applying to.
✪ How will you handle a situation of conflict with coworkers?
Employers ask this question to assess how you will handle your team members. They want to determine if you are a team player. Avoid answering that you never had a conflict. Rather explain how you and your colleague differed on an opinion and how you were able to reach a common agreement out of conflict.
✪ How much salary do you expect for this job?
There are different approaches to answering this question. You may want to aim high, but keep your demand to the level that it does not put you out of the company's salary range. Use a phrase like 'negotiable' to demonstrate your flexibility.
✪ Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
Employers raise this query to understand your future goals and your stability. Answer this question by getting clear on your career goals, while making a connection between your goal, and the job description. For example, a good answer can be, “In five years, I want to obtain at least two certificates related to my position that will help advance my career.”
✪ How do others perceive you?
Most candidates get this wrong. Knowing how other people think of you puts you in the driver's seat with better control. Understanding others' perceptions is an important key to moving forward in your career. Not taking into account how other people perceive you may impact your work seriously.
✪ What activities do you pursue in your spare time?
This question provides the interviewer with an opportunity to know more about you behind your CV. Although there is no wrong answer, your response should match your hobbies with the desired skills for the job. Highlight your hobby and relate it to your job duties. For example, 'In my free time, I enjoy reading, which helps me think outside the box and expands my imaginary skills.
What to do for a successful interview?
✅ Make copies of your resume: Always bring your resume copies and keep them in a separate folder. It shows how prepared you are.
✅ Arrive early: You must arrive 15 minutes early for your first job interview. Reaching 10-15 minutes before helps you get mentally prepared for the interview and shows that you are ready and eager for the job.
✅ Don’t argue: Be defensive and never argue. An interviewer may indicate a concern, and you have to understand their worry. Put on a pleasant countenance and ask the interviewer to elaborate if you don’t understand something. Always keep a smiling face and say, “You are right, I don't possess this skill, or I don’t have such and such.”
✅ Never lie: Don't lie, not on your resume, and not in the interview. Don't exaggerate, no matter how tempting the job offer is, or how badly you need one. If your lie is caught, it can be embarrassing and will have a long-lasting impact on your career.
✅ Be proactive and don’t be afraid to ask questions: Even the most confident candidate can become passive once the job interview begins. When you first meet your interviewer, don't be afraid, but engage in small talk and try to build a rapport. Moreover, don't take the passive route of answering with 'yes' or 'no'. Instead, create a dialogue between yourself and the interviewer.
✅ Emphasise your strengths: Plan and review your strengths and skills related to the job description. Try to revolve around your skill sets stating how you will use them in your job role.
✅ Follow-up after the interview: The most critical step most of us forget is to politely follow up post-interview. As an applicant, following up after the interview expresses gratitude and shows that you still want the position.
It is okay to be a bit nervous before and during your first job interview, but don't let those feelings take you away. It is completely normal to feel a little pressure, but you will emerge if you have gone through the interview tips and are well-prepared. Be confident, and nail your interview in the first few moments, as it will impact the journey of the rest of your interview.
The best way to prepare for an interview is to find a mentor who can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, let you in on what the interviewer is expecting for an answer, and share the many tips and tricks to get ahead of other candidates. Preplaced has tie-ups with some of the best programming and software developer experts working in the tech giants of the world. They are here to help you excel in your tech career. Book a trial session to get a feel of what interview preparation with mentors seems like!