Interviewing 101: How to Ace Your First Interview

As a W.I.S.E. (Women Inspiring Professional Enterprise) fellow, this past summer I had the opportunity to sit in on weekly seminars to learn about career readiness and professional development. Every week, a different speaker presented to the group about topics such as imposter syndrome, salary negotiation, navigating internships, and strategies to rock any interview. I was inspired to compile the information I have learned about interviewing to share with fellow students who may be preparing for their first interview.

Do your research

  • Research the company background, its goals, mission statement, and any current campaigns or mentions in the news. 

  • Learn what you can about the person or people who will be conducting your interview. Connect with them on LinkedIn to learn about where they went to school and what they studied; it can be a great topic for conversation before or after the interview.

  • Try to find out if an alum from your school works at the company you are interviewing for and see if you can connect with them first to get more of an inside scoop about the company.

  • Know the job description like the back of your hand. Read the description over and over again to find those keywords to incorporate while answering interview questions. You can even add similar descriptors on your resume to give yourself a better chance of getting noticed as a qualified candidate. 

Rehearse

Over the last few years, I have learned that conducting mock interviews and actually talking out loud as if I were in an interview, makes all the difference. Grab someone who will sit down with you and read you practice interview questions. You do not want to sound over-rehearsed for an interview and just try to be yourself because the purpose of the interview is for the employer to get to know YOU and determine if you would be a good fit to their team. 

Look the part

It goes for both men and women that you need to walk into your interview looking the part. No matter the position or company, it is better to be overdressed than not. Have a clean and ironed outfit layed out the night before so that you are not scrambling at the last minute to throw something together. Wear something that you are comfortable in and looks professional but still feels like you. 

Have questions ready

Something that I wish I knew when I first started interviewing is going in with questions prepared. It seems obvious, but it is especially helpful for me when I may not be able to think of something on the fly. Make sure you are not asking questions that have been answered already or that you could have found the answer to through research. Have at least 3-5 questions prepared because 99.9% of every interview will end with the interviewer asking you if you have any questions for them and the one thing you shouldn’t do is say no. 

Example questions:

  • “How many days or hours a week does this position require?”

  • “What does a typical day at the office look like?”

  • “What is the work environment or culture like?”

Be yourself

One of the most important things to remember during an interview is to be yourself. The interviewer knows the process can be nerve wracking, but don’t let that hinder you from showing who you are professionally and what a great addition you would be to the team. Rehearsing plays a huge role in feeling less nervous because you will be prepared and ready to answer any question thrown at you. 

In all, interviews can be a scary and daunting experience but they get easier with time. Interviewing is the gateway into the professional, working world in which you will thrive and show potential employers what you are capable of. You are more than capable of going for that position you want even if you don’t feel 100% qualified; better to go for it than to look back and regret that you didn’t try. 

Now go ace that interview!