How to Nail a Job Interview: Tips for First-Timers

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During job interviews, hiring managers know whether they will hire an applicant within the first 90 seconds of talking to them. If you think that first impressions do not last, you are entirely mistaken. Even if you get past the 90-second mark and maintain the interviewer’s favor, there are more things to worry about.

If you are a first-time applicant, it is critical to gain as much information about job interviews. Learn what you can do before, during, and after the interview session to maximize your chances of landing a job. Do not underestimate the power of preparation. Read the rest of this blog to do better in your job search.

How to nail a job interview: 12 tips for first-timers

Good job interviews are not one-and-done processes. They can take a lot of time and practice. Successful applicants often go through a rigorous job hunter checklist to impress interviewers. 

If it is your first time applying for a job, it would be helpful to take mental notes of the following information:

1. Research the company

Company research allows applicants to understand the expectations of their future employers. With the said information, hopefuls could craft in-depth answers to interview questions.

A survey revealed that 64% of job applicants research the company they are applying for. Aside from knowing what the company wants, applicants could determine what the company needs. An in-depth analysis of a company would reveal its problems and weaknesses. You can impress interviewers by making comments or suggestions on relevant subjects.

Some companies ask for requirements during interviews. So always know what to bring during a job interview. Missing a thing or two could ruin your chances of moving to the next steps.

2. Understand the job description

A job description is a guide and measuring tool for an employee’s performance. Ideally, job descriptions should be clear and definite in setting what a company expects from its hires. 

Reading and understanding the job description means you are ready and eager for the role. After all, job descriptions only call out to those who are interested and willing. It is a message targeted to specific kinds of people.

Being familiar with the job description during the interview helps applicants answer job-related and other technical questions. Do not hesitate to use keywords found on the job description because they signify you read the company job post thoroughly.

3. Update your resume

According to interviewers, resumes are the second most important thing they consider when interviewing applicants. They often pull it out while talking to potential employees. It is an efficient guide that keeps the ball rolling. Consider your resume as a lifeline.

While drafting your resume, picture yourself in the interview room already. What you will write can be a point of interest for the interviewer. Highlight your strengths and experiences through words. However, avoid sounding desperate or obnoxious.

Also, study resume trends. Like fashion, resumes change shape and content through time. Online links are must-haves nowadays, and you will never go wrong with a skill-based format.

4. Prepare and practice answers for common interview questions

Practice, practice, practice. Hundreds of how-to blogs recommend this tip, but repetitively simulating an interview session could help develop your communication skills.

Rehearsals help applicants feel more confident. One of the biggest reasons applicants stutter or lose their words is that they do not know what to say next. Doing rehearsals will give applicants an overview of how interviews could happen.

One easy trick would be practicing in front of a mirror. Pull up some sample interview questions and talk to your reflection. Be meticulous with your communication patterns and non-verbal cues. Spot what habits seem problematic and address them.

5. Be ready with an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch does not always happen inside an elevator box. However, its name relates to how your speech or spiel should be as short as an elevator ride.

Depending on the number of floors and the machine’s novelty, an elevator ride can take 30 seconds to 2 minutes. So attempt to keep your answers within that time range, too. 

Giving short answers has two prominent advantages. First, it makes your answers impactful. Dragging can take away the power of your words. Second, it limits the time to make mistakes. Talking for too long can increase the risk of discussing unnecessary and irrelevant things.

6. Use the S-T-A-R method

Are you confused whenever interviewers ask behavior-based questions? A simple solution to that is applying the STAR method. It stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

This method creates a simplified but effective way of relaying details relating to personal qualifications and past experiences. It also makes the conversation more natural and easy to understand.

Situation and Task stand for the context of what and how things happened. The remaining two, Action and Result, are more proactive. They relay how the applicant resolved a problem and the accomplishments they acquired after.

The STAR method takes applicants’ communication skills to the next level. Even interviewers take advantage of it to set a uniform interview for many applicants.

7. Make eye contact and smile

According to a Business Insider article, maintaining eye contact during a conversation makes you more memorable. When you are in a job interview, you must pull all stops available to make a lasting positive impression on hiring managers.

Straight eye contact makes you look confident and attentive. For the interviewer, you would appear as someone highly interested in the job and has the skills to be an excellent employee.

Besides looking intently, try to add in random smiles. Intensely looking into the interviewer’s eyes can be intimidating. Break a smile and make the conversation feel light and natural. Make the other person feel that you are enjoying your time with them.

8. Engage in small talk with hiring managers

It is crucial to respond to interviewers’ questions and provide direct-to-the-point answers. Never stray into irrelevant topics and change the course of the conversation. However, small talks can be appreciable. 

Small talks can be unrelated to the interview questions, but they make the conversation more humane. Talk about easy topics or things that you both relate to. These matters are great conversation openers.

But always remember to keep small talks to the minimum. Do not talk too much about them because it might create the impression that you lack focus and discipline. 

One sign that an interview did not go well is when it is too short. Small talks can help extend the interview, giving the hiring managers more opportunities to discover new things about you.

9. Be mindful of your body language

In sum, body language refers to what you’re communicating without speaking

Sometimes, feelings escape the human body. One prominent example would be fear and nervousness. Unfortunately, when these feelings take over a job interview, applicants often have a hard time making a positive impression on hiring managers.

Interviewers perceive a handful of negative non-verbal cues as inappropriate or discomforting. Find out if your body is doing any of these without your volition:

  • Being stiff
  • Covering the mouth
  • Excessive hand and arm movements
  • Fidgeting with hands, hair, or clothes
  • Fist clenching
  • Jaw clenching
  • Looking everywhere
  • Raising tone of voice, especially when anxious
  • Slumping

When you find out you have these habits, try to control them. Training exists to keep them to the minimum.

10. Treat everyone you meet with respect

Job interviews are not only a test of intellect or skill. Hiring managers also assess your values. Candidates with the best resume may lose to the second or third in the ranking due to morality issues.

One way to prove you have a likable character is by respecting everyone. Do not limit your friendly gestures to hiring managers or executives. Extend your positive attitude to other workers and even visitors. Being courteous to everyone already helps.

Consistently exhibiting respect for others means you could work in a positive work environment and uphold a high standard of ethics regardless of personal feelings.

11. Ask questions after the interview

While the interview is ongoing, reserve some questions that the interviewer did not touch on or those that might need further clarifications. Interviewers will always ask if you have other questions at the end of the interview. Asking questions that matter helps you rank higher than other job applicants. 

According to Harvard Business Review, there are two goals in asking closing questions during an interview. These goals are to assess your compatibility with the company and prove that you are an excellent candidate for the job.

Remember, always ask questions personal to you. Think about the things affecting you in the future.

12. Be quick to follow up on your application

Another way to ensure a good interview is to follow up on the hiring managers. If you have not received any confirmations from a company, do not hesitate to ask for an update. 

One way to know if an interview went well is when hiring managers are responsive to follow-up queries. There are many reasons why job application processes last longer than usual. But regardless of the delay, hiring managers would always stay in touch with potential employees.

Interviewers do not waste their time with job applicants. Try to ask as early as possible so that you can move on to other job opportunities.

8 Things you should never do in job interviews

After studying what you should do to nail a job interview, you should also familiarize the things you should not do during this phase. Many job interview mistakes could ruin your chances as a candidate. Interviewers can quickly develop negative impressions of you when you do either of the following:

1. Sit before you are even invited

During a face-to-face interview, wait for the hiring manager to signal you to sit. If the hiring manager does not do this, at the very least, sit after they have taken a seat.

2. Show up late (or not at all!)

Never be late or absent during a job interview. It is a major red flag for any employer because you are showing signs of tardiness. Whenever you need to reschedule the interview, do it hours or days ahead of time.

3. Talk too early about salary

Anything money-related is often off the table during the early stages of a job interview. Wait for company representatives to open this discussion. This opportunity typically arises during the signing of a job contract.

4. Bad mouth your previous or current employer

Even if you had a bad experience with a previous employer, refrain from badmouthing them. This act may reflect negatively on you. Instead, be grateful for your work experience and focus on improving yourself.

5. Answer a call or text message

Turn off your phone during a phone interview. Give the interviewer your full and undivided attention. Checking on your phone for whatever reason is rude.

6. Lie on your resume

Never lie on your resume. Only list information relevant and authentic information. Please know that companies have their ways of verifying your resume and its contents. Once caught lying, your reputation will severely suffer. When you lack skills and experience, pursue career development courses instead.  

7. Constantly check the time

This tick is highly annoying to hiring managers. Repetitively looking at watches or clocks could signal boredom and arrogance. Hiring managers may think you want the interview to be over immediately.

8. Be rude or sarcastic to the hiring manager

Always respect interviewers. Be courteous and treat them with high regard. Speaking informally and acting without decorum are sure-fire ways to lose your opportunity of landing a specific job.

Maximize your chances of getting hired

Stand out from the rest by regularly updating your skills relating to interviewing. The more you learn and practice, the better your chances of impressing interviewers.

Getting a job for the first time may take a long time. Expect hardships and rejections. But no matter how challenging things may become, do not lose hope.

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