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First Interview Prep Tips

Preparing for your first interview is a key part of standing out above all the other applicants. Use these interview prep tips to really shine.

You've submitted your resume, impressed the right people with your qualifications and experience, and now you need to shine in person to prove that you are the best person for the job.

Preparation is an essential part of every phase of searching for a job but it's especially critical when it comes to the first face-to-face interview. The first interview is a huge step in weeding out candidates that look good on paper but don't transfer well into the company's culture. This is the chance you get to take what the hiring manager liked on your resume and make it valuable to the company or organization.

During a first interview, hiring managers want to learn more about you, what your goals are, and how you interact with others. These are abstract, subjective concepts that are often hard to nail down, but preparing with concrete, applicable examples can help you prove that you are worthwhile to the company.

Use these first interview prep tips to get ready you to truly stand out above the other applicants during your face-to-face.

4 Steps to Help You Prep for Your First Interview

Once your interview is scheduled, a thousand thoughts run through you mind. Everything from "˜what should I wear' to "˜how early should I be there' must be addressed and answered. These four first interview prep tips can help you find a sense of calm and preparedness amidst the storm of nerves and anxiety you might be experiencing.

1. Do Your Research

You may have done some basic research when you were looking for and applying for jobs, but now it's time to take it to the next level. You need more than a basic overview of who the company is and what they do. You need a solid foundation of facts about the organization.

Some questions to ask yourself:
•What are the requirements of this job?
•What do I know about the background of the interviewers?
•What do I know about the employer/company?
•What is the company's mission statement, and what do they hope to accomplish?

Finding the answers to these questions is fairly simple. Utilize your contacts within the industry, browse the company's website, use social media, or do a quick search on the Internet to learn more about what the organization has been involved in. Never walk into an interview blind — know what the company is passionate about.

How can doing your research about the company help you prepare for your first interview? Consider the example of a company that regularly interacts with at-risk teens in the community and takes pride in their charity work through this avenue. Tailor your responses to include examples of times when you have volunteered to help others or done some type of unpaid service to improve the lives of those around you. This shows that you are a good fit as far as personality and life goals go.

2. Prepare for Common Questions

While interview questions will vary based on the job, the company and the interviewer, there are some common interview questions you can expect at any first interview.

Some commonly asked questions for a first interview are:

•What goals do you have for your professional life?
•In one sentence, describe yourself.
•What is your ideal job?
•What experience do you have that makes you an asset to the company?
•What is your definition of success in your career?
•What personality traits or characteristics do you have that would make you an asset to this company or job?

These are just a few examples of some basic, broad questions you should be able to answer about yourself before you start your interview. Practice these questions with someone you trust and ask them to honestly evaluate your answers. Keep in mind that you shouldn't memorize your answers exactly, but should rather focus on knowing key talking points and answering spontaneously, as you can't prepare for every question.

3. Review Your Resume

Your resume did the trick and got you the interview but you still need to review every single piece of information on it. Be prepared for general questions about anything you put on your resume — positive and negative. You may be asked about your leadership experience, or why you have jumped from job to job. Come prepared to your first interview with well thought-out, honest answers to these questions, along with some examples that turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Again, practice is key to preparation. Whether it's with a mentor or just in front of the mirror, take the feedback you receive and apply it to your words and body language before your interview. Interviewing is a skill, and one that will get better the more you practice.

4. Be Wary of Poor Body Language and Bad Habits

While what you say is important, the way you say it and the way you conduct yourself can be almost as important. Poor body language or bad habits can be huge distractions and may cost you the job.

•Good body language includes:
•Solid posture
•Active listening
•Eye contact
•Bad body language includes:
•Touching the face
•Chewing gum
•Not paying attention

When preparing for your first interview, practice your body language with a professional or someone you have recruited to help. Fix any verbal or non-verbal cues that may be distracting or offensive to an interviewer.

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