Tips on Preparation for Your First Interview
So, you turned in your resume and you’ve been asked to come in for an interview. Nervous? Don’t be. This is a standard part of the application process and you can get through it easily. You just need to make sure you’re prepared for the interview and you’re going to do just fine. Here is everything you need to know to get ready for the big day.
One of the biggest mistakes teens make is to be under or overdressed for an interview. You need to remember employers expect for you to dress one level above what you would normally wear on the job. For example, if you’re applying for a lifeguard job, you don’t show up in a three piece suit, rather you would wear slacks and a collared t-shirt. If you’re applying for an office job, you should wear a suit. Make sure you choose your outfit in advance and lay it out the night before the interview. The last thing you want to do on the day of the interview is to pick up the shirt you were expecting to wear off the floor in a panic.
Show up on Time
Are you late to everything? An interview is something you absolutely cannot be late to under any circumstances. If you run late to an interview, it tells the employer that you’re going to be late every day you work for them. You should plan to show up at least 10 minutes early for the interview. This way, even if something unexpected happens on the way to the interview, you will still show up on time.
What to Say and Not to Say
Once you get dressed for the interview and you’re in front of the employer, now you have the task of figuring out what the heck to say! The first thing you should do is to make sure to introduce yourself right away. Shake hands and maintain eye contact at all times.
As you’re going through the interview, make sure to mention key points about yourself and what you think you’re going to bring to the job. Highlight what is in your resume, but go beyond to give insight into who you are and what you can do.
Never talk negatively about school, former employers, or anything. You want to appear as someone who is upbeat and positive about working. Show how even bad situations offered you the chance to learn something valuable that you still use today.
Prepare in advance for questions like where you see yourself in five years, what skills you bring to the job, how you handle yourself in difficult situations, instances where you have failed and how you handled yourself, areas you can improve upon, and other difficult questions. Rehearse your answers with family members so you won’t be stumbling over your answers in the interview.
Don’t know the answer to something? Be honest about it. Tell the employer you don’t know the answer to the question, but you’re excited to learn the answer. Show that even in the face of difficulty, you’re willing to rise above.
As mentioned above, you should always maintain eye contact, but your body language and manner will speak volumes as well. Make sure you don’t ever cross your arms or lean back. Both show indifference to the employer (and the job). Keep your hands folded in your lap unless using them to gesture and sit forward in your seat as if eager to jump up and start working right away.
Exiting the Interview
When you’re finished with the interview, don’t try to linger making conversation. If you’ve conducted yourself properly throughout the interview, it will be enough to get you the job. You’re not going to convince the employer to hire you after the interview has concluded. Say “thank you, it was nice speaking with you and I look forward to hearing from you.” Leave it at that. Give the interviewer a firm handshake after standing and be prepared to walk out the door.
It can take a few days to hear back from the potential employer, depending on how many other applicants they’re planning on interviewing. Don’t ring back in two days asking about the job. Either they will call back with an offer or not. If you don’t hear back after a week or two, you may consider calling back. Essentially, if you don’t hear back right away, you should move on to other potential employers.
Going through the interview process is going to be difficult no matter how many times you go through it. As long as you dress appropriately, show up on time, say the right things, maintain body language and have a clean exit you should be just fine. The more you practice with family and friends and the more you go through interviews, the more comfortable you’re going to be.