How to Succeed in Your First Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 August 2022 | Published 29 June 2020

Updated 26 August 2022

Published 29 June 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview | Indeed India

In this Indeed Career Guide video, we will explore how to best prepare for an interview, watch the whole video to get all the best tips.

Are you ready to attend your first job interview? It must be exciting and nerve-wracking. Most people have no idea what to expect and can have a hard time coping with the anxiety. But don’t worry, as your interviewers are probably experienced at interviewing graduates and first-time job seekers. Remember that preparation is key and no matter how many mock interviews you may have attended, it is important to prepare well for your first real experience.

How to succeed in your first interview

Learn about the company

Read as much as you can about the company you hope to join. Having a fair understanding of what they do, who their biggest clients are, their culture will help you tackle any questions they ask regarding your knowledge of the company. It will also help you understand the company’s goals and what they expect of their employees. It is important that your goals and values align with that of the company’s. This will motivate you towards pursuing the role and help you design your answers accordingly.

Understand the role

Learning about the company is like understanding the big picture and researching about the role helps you understand what your specific duties and responsibilities would be if you got the job. This research is extremely important because it lets you know if your knowledge and skills would fit the role and if the role gives you the opportunity to grow in the career that you want. The importance of choosing the right job at the beginning of your career is often understated. But it is something that must be carefully considered as the position and pay scale that you start with can determine how soon you grow.

Prepare answers to some common questions

As a first-timer, you cannot be sure of what the interviewer may ask you. It may be a good idea to keep a few pointers ready in case they ask one of the following questions.

“Tell me about yourself?”

Interviewers may use this question as an ice breaker to begin the interview. They obviously have all the information they need on your resume but you can add essential details that you may have left out from your experiences. It is also likely that the interviewer wants to analyse your communication skills. So prepare a brief summary of what you would like to say if you were asked this question. Make sure that you rehearse it a few times but refrain from memorizing it like a script. For example:

I studied at Delhi Public School where I was school vice-captain during the 11th and 12th grades. I have just completed my post-graduation in economics from Indira Gandhi National Open University. I completed my graduation in economics from Delhi University before that. Just after my graduation, I interned at the Indicus Foundation where I reported particular business insights and helped prepare case studies under the guidance of my supervisor. The experience was great and helped me during my final year thesis at the PG level. It also strengthened my passion to make a career in economics, which is why I believe I will be suitable for the junior data scientist role at your organisation.

Related: 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid in an Interview

“How do you think your skills and qualifications would be useful to this role?”

Think of this as an application question. Interviewers want to know how capable you are of transferring your skills and knowledge from the classroom to the work front and how much training you will need before you can make significant contributions. For this, use specific instances where you had the opportunity to use one of your skills to handle a situation and explain how you did it. It can be from college, during a project or at an internship. For example:

For my final year project, the class was divided into groups of 5 and each group was tasked with designing a catalogue for a marketing agency. There were 5 groups and we were all competing as the best catalogue design would be chosen by the agency to be used as their quarterly print catalogue. I was picked as head of my group and I realised that this was an amazing opportunity that I must capitalise on. I had a fair understanding of my team’s strengths. We listed out the tasks we needed to perform along with the timelines. Each of us discussed the tasks we would work on and how we would piece the whole project together at the end to achieve the desired final product. Unlike most other groups, we spent a whole week planning every detail and fixing deadlines before moving onto the execution stage. Clearly, that was the best way to go as we finished our tasks smoothly and in complete coordination a few days before our deadline. We had ample time for review and final touches and we made a wonderful presentation to the panel. Our design was also chosen by the agency giving our group additional credits for the project.

“Tell me about a project or internship that you worked on”

You may have mentioned these on your resume but prepare some details in case the interviewer asks you to elaborate on one of your projects or internships. If you are asked about a project, make sure you describe important details. For example, explain why you chose the particular project, what was the objective of the project, what means of data collection you used, what were the findings, what were the challenges you encountered, etc. If you are asked to elaborate on your internship experience, talk about why you worked with a particular institution or organisation, which department or project you were a part of, who you were reporting to, what exactly you did there and for how long, what you learnt from the internship and finally, if applicable, talk about how it relates to the role you are currently applying to.

Keep your resume and all other documents in order

Most applicants assume that interviewers already have a copy of the resume that they had sent via email or dropped off earlier. This a poor assumption to make because interviewers frequently ask applicants for their documents as soon as they step into the room. Ideally, take 2 copies of your resume with you along with copies of your certificates and other documents that they may have requested. Double check before you leave that you aren’t forgetting any important documents.

Once you are done with the basic preparation, the next step is to face the interviewer.

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself"

Tips to create the best first impression on your interviewer

1. Dress appropriately

Being your first time, you may be unsure of what dress code is appropriate during an interview. The best thing to do is to contact the HR department and ask them about the appropriate dress code in the organisation. Keep in mind that different organisations have different dress codes. In case you are unable to contact the HR department for information, stick to business casuals. This is the acceptable way to dress in most organisations.

Related: What to Wear to an Interview

2. Be on time

Punctuality is an extremely valuable quality and a likely parameter on which the interviewer will rate you. It is important to understand that interviewers are looking for specific qualities—punctuality, the right attitude, grit, ability to work in teams—while hiring freshers because freshers cannot be evaluated on previous work experience. Therefore, focus on displaying qualities that the employer will truly value.

3. Be cool and confident

Make sure you pay attention to your body language. Don’t be too rigid or laid back. It is natural to be a bit nervous but put on a confident face. Be polite to everyone and remember to greet people at the beginning of a conversation and thank them at the end of it.

4. Be authentic

The best you can be is yourself. Never try to portray a different personality or worse, lie to the interviewer—on the resume or during the interview. The problem with faking it is that it cannot go on forever. Even if you get the job, there is a very slim chance that you can continue lying or faking it endlessly.

5. End on a high note

At the end of the interview, make sure you ask any questions you may have about the company or role to the interviewer. Unless the interviewer mentions it, do not end the interview asking them about salary. It is likely that they will get back to you with an offer if they find you to be a good fit. Smile and shake the interviewer’s hand. Thank them for their time. See if you can get their business card so you can follow up with them at a later time.

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