INTERVIEWS / NOV. 29, 2013
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How To Handle Your First Interview

Your first job interview can be a stressful experience; however as a graduate entering the working world for the first time, that first job interview can plain horrifying.

As it is your first interview you would have to be extremely lucky to succeed in landing the job (sorry to dash your hopes!). Your best bet really is to use it as a learning experience for your next interviews, this way, you will also feel less nervous and will probably end up impressing the interviewers even more than expected. Interviewing is a skill and generally speaking, like all skills, you have to practice it. Even the most talented graduates usually need a few practice runs before they land their first job.  

What to wear

When preparing what to wear for your first interview, you need to assess the type of company that you will be working for. The best way to find this out is actually by asking the company preferably by phone or email. Take account of the country that you are in. For instance if you are in a hot country such as Cyprus and it is summer they are not going to want you to wear a full suit as you will probably pass out from the heat on your way to the interview.  But if you are in the UK or Ireland you need to imagine that you have already been hired for the role and are attending an important business meeting with top executives; in other words - wear a full suit. Never be afraid to ask a company about its dressdoce, it never hurts and it can actually show the HR Manager that you have some initiative.

Before the Interview

In most interview settings, upon arrival at the premises you will be invited to wait in the reception or interview room until the interviewer is ready to see you. Remember that from the moment you are entering the building, your behavior is usually being assessed, therefore be fully aware of everything that you do and say.  

You may be offered a drink while you are waiting. Always say yes to this as it can be a great help during the interview. First it can calm your nerves and it can also give you time to think before you answer a question.

The actual interview

Once you have been invited into the interview room you will be introduced to your interviewer/interviewers. Do not take your seat until you are invited to do so. Remain polite and friendly and keep in mind that first impressions are very important. This means always give a firm but not too tight handshake. Never kiss female interviewers on the both cheeks no matter what country you are in.

Once seated, ensure that you are comfortable and do not fidget during the course of the interview. In today’s competitive employment environment, many interviewers assess a number of elements of a candidate, including their body language. It can be hard not to play with your fingers but just remember to be mindful of everything that you are doing and you can limit this kind of behavior to a minimum.

What to expect

First job interviews are never identical and you will need to bear in mind the type of company that you are interviewing for and the type of job that you are seeking to do. Sometimes you can be drilled with horrifying questions such as "What is your Greatest Weakness?" or you may even have to take a Psychometric tess. Other times the interview can be short and quite informal with no test at all.

Keep in mind that the level of competition is so high that you may be up against candidates who have more to bring to the table, therefore ensure that you are respectable, honest, mature, polite and responsible throughout the interview.  You will probably have very little or no work experience so that can work against you, especially at the moment. Play to your strengths such as projects that you worked on while you were in University.

It is extremely important to take time when answering questions. It may seem like they want the answers instantly but they don’t. They want you to take time to think about your answers carefully. In the end, rubbish answers aren’t going to score you any points. A good way to achieve this is by using the previously mentioned trick with the glass of water; it gives you time to think about your answer but without seeming to just be sitting there. Always ask questions at the end of the interview as it shows that you have more interest in the company. This will also give you more points with the interviewer!

After the interview

Follow up your interview with a thank you note indicating your gratification at being invited for an interview. Focus on one or two of the questions that you were asked during the interview. Keep the note short and to the point. If you do not make the cut then make sure you ask for some sort of feedback. It will help you be more prepared for your next interview.

Just remember not to get disheartened if you don’t ace your first job interview. If everyone aced their first job interview it would be a miracle. Your first few interviews are all about learning and practicing so that you aren’t so nervous. I know it’s scary but you have nothing to lose and lots to gain! 

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