How to Prepare For Your First Job Interview After College?

How to Prepare For Your First Job Interview After College?

If you think most hiring decisions are based on your experience and qualifications, then you better keep reading. A good resume may get you in the door, but how you interview determines whether you’re offered the job.

That is why I wrote down some tips and suggestions (tailored for students) to help you prepare and ace that job interview.

Before The Interview

Remember that your interviewers are hoping to find their ideal candidate, so they want you to do well. It makes zero sense for them to try to trip you up. A little bit of plan and prep is all you need to walk into your interview brimming with confidence, and the rest will fall into place.

Tip #1 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Dress For Success 

Tip #1 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Dress For Success

What’s the best outfit to wear to a job interview? The answer will vary depending on the type of job and company you’re interviewing with. You always want to dress to make the best impression, but the outfit you choose depends on whether you’re interviewing at a company with a formal dress code, at a casual startup, or for an informal summer job or internship.

The best advice I can give you is to do your research on the company culture and dress code. From there, it is always best to dress one step above the norm. You may not want to be too overdressed but it would be much worse if you were underdressed.

Either way, being well-groomed with clean, untattered clothes is always required. Also, wear something comfortable.

Tip #2 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Get Up Extra Early And Arrive on Time

Tip #2 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Get Up Extra Early And Arrive on Time

If you usually go for a morning run or to the gym, don’t skip it just because of your job interview. 

There are two reasons. The first one is, that you shouldn’t change your habits because of your (potential) job. At least not the good ones. The second reason is, that it will be good to wake yourself up and get those endorphins going

This will calm the jitters and give you a confidence boost.

You should also aim to give yourself enough time to sit down for breakfast before leaving for the interview. I know you’ll probably be nervous before the interview, but try to have as good a meal as you can. I recommend some brain food. A bowl of cereal, some fruit, toast, and a cup of tea or coffee. 

Before you head in for your interview, have a chat with a friend, a partner, or a family member about something other than the interview to loosen yourself up and get into the swing of things.

And the most important thing. Arrive on time. It’s important to be punctual, or even a little early, for your job interviews. Let’s say 15 or 20 minutes early would be perfect. 

Tip #3 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Do Your Research

Tip #3 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Do Your Research

Do some research by looking carefully at the company website, following their social media accounts, and googling them to see if you can find any press coverage or even a company blog

If you’re really well informed, you’ll not only impress your interviewers, but it’ll also give you a better picture of what you’re potentially signing yourself up to.

A pro tip is to set up a Google Alert for the company name so that you get any relevant news about them straight to your inbox.

List your skills that are most relevant to the role

Now you’ve done your research on the company, it’s time to start thinking about which aspects of your skillset and experience are directly relevant to the job role. Read through the job description, pull out the most important parts and make a list.

Then you should make another one. What you should do is write down things about yourself that come to mind that you know demonstrate you have something to offer that directly relates to each point. It would be great if those are the things mentioned in your CV or online portfolio. 

It’s pretty much guaranteed that the interviewer will use the job description to direct the conversation, so preparing in this way will give you go-to responses when you hear the key buzzwords.

Practice Your Interview Answers

Practice Your Interview Answers

Why do you want to work here? This is a favorite among recruiters interviewing job candidates. It’s also a very straightforward and fair question. And it is not too uncommon for college students not to know what they want, even after completing a four-year college degree. So… Before entering any interview make sure you’ve developed a well-thought answer to this question.

But don’t forget there are some other ones too. Tell me about yourself. Why do you think you are the best person for this job? Where do you see yourself in five years? These are just some of the questions that you may be asked during your interview. Here’s a list of the most common interview questions

If you know they could be asked, don’t stress about them. Just prepare for them

Tip #4 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Clean Up Your Online Presence

Tip #4 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Clean Your Online Presence

This is something you should have done before you applied for the job. And since you got the interview I am gonna assume that you take care of your online presence. But it wouldn’t hurt you to Google yourself and go through everything one last time before you go to the interview.

Read More: How To Manage Your Digital Footprint: Tips for Students

If You Haven’t Done it Already, Create A Personal Website or A Portfolio

This way you can be somewhat in control of what people will find when they search for you. 

It is an opportunity to highlight all the vital information, and give a little intro to who you are and what you are capable of. And most importantly, if you want you can have an online home where you can showcase your work.

If you do it well, you can use it in the interview and it can actually guide the recruiter’s questions. 

During The Interview

Now here are some things you should pay attention to during the interview.

Tip #5 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Be Honest (About Yourself And Your Expectations)

Tip #5 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Be Honest (About Yourself And Your Expectations)

The purpose of an interview is twofold. 

First, the interviewer will want to learn more about your skills and background. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the interviewer will want to get a feel for you as a person

Interviewing for a job is as much about showing how well you’ll fit in with the company culture and environment as proving your qualifications. That is exactly why you should never lie during a job interview. Especially if it’s your first job interview after college. 

To be honest, it’s the same as when you go on a date. Even if something is embarrassing or potentially problematic, if it comes up, you should answer honestly. It is not like they won’t soon find out the truth. 

But, at the same time, make sure not to share more than necessary. They just want to know if you can do the job and be a safer, better choice than the other students. That’s all. 

Be Upfront About Your Availability  

Employers know that college students have busy schedules, so it’s important to have an idea of your availability. You have to be the one to tell them how many hours per week you can work if you can work weekends and if you will be available during summer semesters or breaks. If you can, bring a copy of your class schedule or write-up when you’re available. 

You don’t want to end up taking on more hours than you can handle, inconveniencing both yourself and your employer. If your availability isn’t the right fit for the employer, it’s better to know that as soon as possible so you can look for other positions.

Tip #6 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Ask Insightful Questions

Tip #6 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Ask Insightful Questions

At the end of the interview, you will be asked: “Do you have any questions?”

If your answer to this is no, think again. By all means, you must have at least two or three questions to ask the interviewer. Not only does it show your interest in the position, but is also an ideal opportunity to find out more. 

Being able to ask interesting questions is as important as answering them, so take the time to prepare a few. Just make sure you don’t ask anything that’s already been covered in the interview, or it’ll seem like you weren’t listening.

Best questions to ask in an interview:

  • “How does the company help employees with career progression?” – This type of question tells the interviewer that you are serious about your future. It also gives shifts the interview in another direction cause they now have to ‘sell’ the company to you. 
  • “How is the team structured and who would I be reporting to?” – The interviewer will be looking to see if you would fit into the team. Showing an interest in the people you’d be working with and for will make a good impression.

Little bonus tip: Avoid questions like ‘How long is my break?’

Don’t Speak Negatively 

This should be a no-brainer but it is sometimes important to emphasize. 

Expressing enthusiasm and staying positive is a key to a successful interview. Conversely, being negative or expressing negativity is a sure-fire way to sink your chances of getting a job offer. 

If you can’t maintain a sense of positivity throughout 60 minutes of an interview, you can be sure that the interviewer will assume that you will be even more negative on the job. That way hiring you might mean dragging your new team and company down with you.

Don’t speak negatively about anyone. No matter what question you’re asked, or how much you’re baited during the interview. Keep the interview focused on you, your qualities, and why you’re the right person for the job.

Tip #7 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College: Watch Your Body Language

Tip #7 For Nailing Your First Job Interview After College Watch Your Body Language

Body language during interviews plays a very important role in making or breaking your career. From the moment you enter through the company’s front door, you’re perceived with different opinions by different people.

Pay attention to your body language. 

This is particularly important for a first job interview after college. For two reasons. 

First, college graduates typically have less experience paying attention to their body language than seasoned job seekers and consequently are more apt to do things that will turn off an interviewer. Second, in many cases, there is very little to differentiate one college graduate interviewing for the job from the next

Poor body language and bad habits could be just enough of a reason for a hiring manager to select another candidate. Don’t fidget, slouch, chew gum, mumble, or play with objects. 

Speak clearly and powerfully, project your voice, maintain eye contact, smile, nod (when appropriate), and sit up straight.

Key Takeaway(s)

Key Takeaway(s)
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Do your research. 
  • Be there on time.
  • Come prepared.
  • Speak your mind. 

And please, don’t forget to put your phone on silent.

Now go and ace that interview! You got this!


Biljana Martinić

Captain of Red Hair Pirates. Song Sommelier. Dragonologist. Talks to animals and they often talk back. Shyness that is criminally vulgar. Bounty hunter. And a nostalgia consultant.

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