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First Interview FAQs

First interviews come with a unique set of challenges and obstacles. Study this list of first interview FAQs to get prepared.

While every first interview is a little different, but there are some some things you should always be prepared for during a first interview. To help you prepare for this vital step in the hiring process, we've put together a list of first interview FAQs. Study the answers and you'll be well on your way to making a great first impression.

A first interview is your chance to shine and show off your critical thinking and problem solving skills, your personality and your ability to think on your feet. Interviewers are impressed with confident candidates who come prepared with a solid understanding of the role and the company, so preparation is key. While you may not face every situation listed below, being prepared just in case can make all the difference in how you stand out against the competition, and whether the job is yours or another applicant's at the end of the interviewing process. These FAQs will help you make it past the first interview and land the job.

FAQ #1: What Type of Interview May I Be Facing?

There are several types of first interviews, and different organizations prefer different methods. You may be faced with any of the following for your first interview:

  • Face-to-face — You are able to meet the interviewer in person and have a one-on-one face-to-face interview.
  • Panel — A group of people, or panel, will ask the questions. Answers should always be geared toward the member asking the questions.
  • Technical — If you are applying for an IT or engineering job, you may undergo a technical interview that requires you to display your knowledge of a skill or process.
  • Competency-based — This type of interview is focused on the characteristics and skills needed for the job, and your goal is to relate experience and skills to the job you are applying for.
  • Telephone — Your first interview may be done over the phone, which comes with its own set of unique challenges. Whether they are in-person or by phone, first interviews are important, you should be as prepared for a phone interview as you are for a face-to-face interview.

FAQ #2: What Are the Most Common Interview Questions?

While questions may vary based on the job title and the interviewer, there are several questions you can almost always expect to show up during a first interview. Here are some samples questions that you should be prepared to answer:

  • Tell me (us) about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • Why do you feel you are qualified for this job?
  • What do you know about our company goals, mission statement, and culture?
  • What is most important to you in a job?
  • What questions do you have about the company or the role you are applying for?

FAQ #3: Should I Discuss Salary and Benefits During My First Interview?

Typically, all salary, benefits, and retirement negotiation should be done after you've received a job offer. In some instances, the interviewer may ask for your salary requirements, at which time you are clear to carefully broach the subject. However, unless the interviewer asks you a direct question about salary expectations, these questions are inappropriate to ask during a first interview.

FAQ #4: What Do I Say if I Was Fired From My Last Job?

You will almost certainly be asked why you left your last position. Getting fired happens to the best of us but this topic can still feel sticky in an interview setting. If you were part of a general layoff, you have a little more leeway when discussing the loss. If you were released from the job because of performance or a personality conflict, handle it differently. Admit your weaknesses and take responsibility, but show concrete examples of how you have overcome those weaknesses to turn them into strengths. You may also want to contact your old supervisor to clear the air before you apply for a new position, in case he or she is called for a reference. Whether or not you are able to smooth things over with your former employer, never bash the company. Stay positive and focus on the position at hand, not on the past.

FAQ #5: What Common Behavioral Questions Will I Be Asked?

Behavioral questions refer to real-life experiences you've had on the job that highlight your skills and capabilities. While it's almost impossible to determine exactly what you will be asked, thinking about concrete examples of professional projects and scenarios you are proud go a long way towards preparing for these types of questions. Here are examples of some commonly asked behavioral questions during first interviews are:

  • Discuss a time when you successfully worked closely with someone with a very different personality than yours.
  • Identify a time when a customer or client was very pleased with your service.
  • Pinpoint a specific time when you were under a lot of pressure, and how you handled it successfully.
  • How do you meet deadlines on a project that is time sensitive?
  • Is there a time you have been able to persuade another client or team member to see things your way when they disagreed in the beginning?

Prepare By Reviewing First Interview FAQs

A first interview can be nerve-wracking without the right research and preparation. Use these first interview FAQs and practice as often as possible before your first interview in order to increase your chances of success.

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