So you made it past the competition to get your first job interview. In today’s competitive job environment, every interview counts because they might be few and far between. It used to be that new graduates had many job interviews lined up, and you even had the luxury of taking an entry level job interview to “practice” for bigger and better interviews. Not anymore. With scores of applicants competing for every position, you’ve got to make a good impression, even on your first job interview.
We’ve put together some interview tips on how to prepare for an entry level job interview:
1. Research Common Questions
Some new graduates are surprised when employers ask more than just their college experience and accomplishments. Experienced interviewers can put you through common workplace scenarios, or ask you tough questions that you may not be prepared to answer. It’s best to research entry level job interview questions so you can be prepared for whatever questions are thrown your way.
Even if you are going on an entry level job interview, you should dress as if you are applying to be in management. Unless your interviewer tells you otherwise, wear professional attire and keep your appearance conservative. First impressions are very important on your first job interview and you do not want your appearance to detract from the interview. Even if employees don’t wear suits to work every day, you want your prospective employer to remember that you were dressed professionally during your job interview. When a final decision is made, you want your potential employer to feel comfortable that you can represent them in a professional manner.
3. What to Bring
You should always bring additional copies of your resume to the interview and a pen to complete a job application form. You may also need to have contact information handy for any previous employers and references. If your industry or job has commonly produced materials, it is acceptable to bring a portfolio of your work. If the topic arises, you can pull out samples of your work to keep the interview going in a positive direction and to reinforce your skills.
Before your first job interview, make sure you thoroughly research the position and the company. It’s not unprofessional to ask questions about what the position entails or how the company operates, but you should have a basic working knowledge of the products or services they offer. You want to be able to engage in conversation with your interviewer, and the more information you know about the company, the more you will have to talk about.
5. Acceptable Questions
At some point, your interviewer is going to ask “Do you have any questions for me?” Most new college graduates are nervous and just want the interview to be over with. Experienced interviewers know that this is a golden opportunity to show further interest in the company and the position, and have already planned questions that they will ask. You can engage your interviewer by asking questions about his or her job responsibilities, or the culture of the company. Bold applicants may also ask about growth opportunities and salary, but those are probably a better topic to bring up if you are invited to a second interview or when you receive an employment offer.
6. Selling Yourself
Your ultimate goal in the first job interview is to sell yourself, and get invited back for a second interview (or get hired). To do that, you must learn how to talk about your skills and accomplishments positively, without sounding like you are bragging. You don’t want to come across as too bland, or too brash. Always use real life examples to respond to interview questions, like how you solved a problem or accomplished a goal. It also helps if you can find something in common with your interviewer, so that you can establish a connection with him/her early on.
7. Don’t Burn Bridges
Thank your interviewer for the opportunity at the end of your interview, even if you are not qualified or interested in the position. If you have successfully developed a connection with the interviewer and convinced them of your worth, there may be opportunities down the road when another more suitable position opens up.
Always follow-up an interview with an email or letter to thank your interviewer for his/her time shortly after the interview. If you do not hear back about the position, it is acceptable to follow-up with your interviewer to see if a decision was reached.