How to Prep for Your First “Adult” Job Interview

By the time you’re in college, you’ve probably gone through the nerve-wracking job interview process a few times, whether it was to score that weekend babysitting gig or part-time barista position. But when you land your first “big time” interview for a career actually in your major or at a major corporation it’s natural to feel intimidated. You might panic about coming off under qualified or not appearing mature and professional.  

To any college students experiencing pre-interview anxiety, the most important thing to remember is that you already mastered the hardest part by getting the interview. Your resume and cover letter were obviously strong enough to make these people want to meet you and learn more about the amazing skills you can offer. The most difficult part of the search and application process is behind you, so feel proud. Still, there are a few final steps to take ahead of time to build up your confidence and nail that first-impression that’ll get you the dream job.  

1. Research, Research, Research 

Nothing is more important and will make you feel more at ease when the day comes then taking the time to learn as much as possible about the company and position you’re applying for beforehand. Read everything possible online that you can: history, main products, popular clients, and pay special attention tthe design and main tabs on the website in order to get a better feel of the vibe and priorities that the company thinks are most important to emphasize.  

It’d be smart to even take down a few notes about what you found particularly unique and exciting about this business, so you’ll have go-to talking points when they ask “Why you’re interested in working here”.  

If you know the name of the interviewer you’ll be speaking with it’s also a good idea to try and find out at least some basic info about them as well to eliminate some of the scariness that you might feel about having to impress a complete ‘stranger’. You should also save the original job description and read it over a few times, paying special attention to buzzwords like “independent,” “computer savvy” or “cooperative” so you can really come across as the ideal candidate.  

2. Rehearse Outloud

Once you feel like you’ve got a clear understanding of what they’re looking for, it’s time to rehearse what you’re going to say. Although it may seem silly, the best way to get comfortable with interviews is to actually practice going through possible dialogues either by yourself or with a friend willing to play the part of the interviewer. Look up common lists of job interview topics online and have someone go through them with you in some kind of office-type setting so that you won’t be blind sighted by a tricky question. By the time the big day comes you’ll have run through all the possible difficult scenarios so many times that the real thing will feel like a breeze. 

3. Get Comfortable “Bragging” 

20-somethings usually struggle with talking about our accomplishments to other people because we’ve become so accustomed to not wanting to “show off”. But if there’s any time to put your humility aside and showcase your talents it’s during an interview. Don’t exaggerate of course, but also don’t underplay what you bring to the table. The point of an interview is to stand out from all the other candidates, so discuss your skills with pride!  

4. Be Well Rested 

Getting to bed early may seem impossible when your nerves are on edge with anticipation, but if you’ve done all your research and run through your practice interviews then the best thing to do is just relax, turn off your computer, and try to get in a full eight hours. You’ll wake feeling refreshed and clear headed rather than groggy and unfocused after a late-night cram session.  

5. Look Professional But Comfortable 

Everyone knows the importance of dressing for success, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe of black blazers and Banana Republic slacks. Put together something polished and professional from pieces you already have (like a killer pencil skirt and pretty blouse” and you’ll feel much more comfortable rather than like a college student trying to “dress up” like a middle-aged CEO.   

6. Give Yourself Enough Time 

Being on time is a must. Lateness is totally unprofessional and you don’t want the added stress/sweat of having to sprint across town in order to make your appointment time. Check ahead for how long it’ll take you to get to the interview spot and give yourself at least a 20min buffer for emergencies (traffic, getting lost, etc.) Even if you arrive way early that’ll just give you some extra time to review your notes, grab a cup of coffee, or even just sit and relax.

7. Breathe, Stand Tall, Walk in Confident

Truly the scariest point in the whole interview process is that initial meet-and-greet moment when the interviewer calls you into the room. Remember to breathe, stand, tall, and offer a firm handshake paired with a warm and friendly greeting.