In our current climate, it’s easy to forget that summer also brings an important step for many people out there: graduation! Whether it’s high school, college or university, many students recently received their diploma and are getting ready to begin their career.
It can be a career in your field or a simple student job - no matter the level or category, diving into the job research process is a big challenge. We set up a dozen job offer notifications through email, we bury ourselves in intensive research, send out a bunch of resumes… And with a little luck, we land an interview. Yay! Or nay?
A first interview brings on a lot of stress that can be hard to deal with. By first interview, I don’t mean your first ever interview at the McDonald’s on the street corner when you were 15, but your first “real” job interview for your “real career”, a position that’s perfect for you, something that requires a little more preparation than simply saying how many hours you need and what salary you’re looking for (minimum wage, right?).
Even if you aced your McDonald’s interview (which I have no doubt you did), a job interview for a more important position is different and can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared. Here are a few tips to help you avoid bad surprises.
Do your homework
Let’s keep this short and sweet: know the company you’re trying to get hired at! Simple as that! Take a few minutes before your interview to look over their website, their Facebook page, their LinkedIn profile. Make sure you have a clear idea of what services they offer, their missions, their values.
I know you think you can wing it, and that you’re sure you can get through it without doing research. You’re wrong. Yes, really. Don’t be lazy! Five minutes and that’s it. Google is but a click away!
Study… but not too much
On the other hand, doing research on the best tips to ace an interview is a good idea, but the risk of being over prepared is very real (keep reading this though!). The goal of a job interview is to get to know you. Your resume speaks for you when it comes to studies and job experience - the interview is there to show your personality.
Prepping yourself by looking up the “right answers” to give in an interview can hinder you in the end. You’re at risk of getting stuck in those memorized answers, which can make you seem rigid and take away the spontaneity. Keep in mind that the people interviewing you aren’t doing it for the first time: it’s very, very possible they’re heard these answers before.
Be yourself! Many candidates have work experience and a diploma - only you have your personality. And you can’t study that!
Confidence is key
Yep! That’s the secret: Confidence. Shocking, I know! And certainly easier said than done. But keep this in mind: your future employer needs you. They’re looking for a reason to say yes! Consider the interview as a conversation between equals. You have something to bring to this position. Don’t forget it!
Whether it’s a phone or in-person interview, be conscious of your posture, your outfit, your tone of voice. The saying does “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the image you project. The first person you have to convince is yourself, after all. If you believe in it, others will follow.
Confidence is an essential tool when it comes to your first job. You might not have the professional experience that will help you climb to the top of the list of potential candidates, but a positive and confident attitude will definitely play in your favour.
Honesty before anything else
If you’re only just now dipping your toe in the job market, it’s very possible that you don’t have much professional experience (I’m afraid your job at McDonald’s won’t be much use here). If by some miracle you find a job offer that doesn’t require 10-15 years of experience (good luck) and you manage to get a job interview, remember one thing: be honest.
Transparency and honesty will take you much further than the vague responses you come up with in order to dodge your interviewer’s questions. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to show that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses and that you’re ready to learn. Your personal experience, which makes you who you are, is useful even in a professional context.
And do not be afraid of the “no”. Consider a negative response as an occasion to learn, to grow and to better prepare yourself for the next interview. You’ve got this!