Preparing for your first job interview can be a nerve-racking experience, but the best way to minimize your anxiety is to take the time to prepare before the interview.
Research the company and the role, review your resume, and think about the questions you may be asked. In particular, you may want to practice your answers to the following five questions, as there is a very good chance you’ll face them:
1. Describe a Situation in Which You Had to Deal With a Difficult Client/Project/Coworker
This is a classic example of a “behavioral question,” which are questions that require you to detail past experiences. Many employers will ask such questions to learn more about your experience. They’re trying to find out how you react to certain situations.
Do not use this question as an opportunity to bash former clients or coworkers. That will not reflect well on you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to show you can handle a challenge.
Make sure you detail a situation that was truly a challenge, and explain how you handled it. If you don’t have much experience under your belt, think of your last part-time job. You’ll need to describe a tough situation that you overcame in a clear, professional way.
2. Give an Example of a Goal You Didn’t Meet and How You Handled It
This is another typical behavioral question. The employer wants to know how you’ll react to problems when they arise in the workplace. Are you quick to react and blow things out of proportion, or do you stop to think about how you can solve the issue in a calm and professional way? Employers want to make sure you can handle a challenge, but they also want to see how you perceive yourself when it comes to failure.
Don’t answer this by saying you never missed a goal in your life. No one is perfect, and the interviewer knows that. What you need to show here is that you have faced failure in previous jobs. Everyone has. The interviewer wants to know how you handled that failure, including what you learned from it and how you prevented it from happening again.
It’s human nature to make mistakes, and the best employees are those who can learn from the experience. Perhaps you missed a sales goal in a previous job. You can discuss how you changed your marketing efforts for the following month. Or maybe you missed an important product delivery deadline for a client. Discuss how you brainstormed with your team to ensure future deliveries were on time.
3. How Do You Juggle Multiple Projects at Once?
Anyone can say that they’re detail-oriented or skilled at multitasking, but your interviewer is going to want a real-life example that validates your claim.
You need to be able to illustrate — with real examples — how you manage tasks. Would you tackle the biggest projects first and then get started on the others? Would you be willing to ask for help if you couldn’t get the work done on time by yourself? The interviewer wants to know how capable you are of handling stressful situations.
4. Why Are You the Right Person for This Position?
This is one of the most common assessment questions, and it’s one you should always prepare to answer. This question is designed to evaluate your understanding of the position and knowledge of the company.
Prepare for this answer by going through every line in the job description and connecting each to a project you’ve worked on or a skill you have. You want your answer to contain a few specific examples. Think about your skills and how they apply to the items detailed in the job post.
You can also use this opportunity to showcase your knowledge of the company and its culture. Employers want to hire people whose ethics and attitudes align with the company, so make this clear in your answer.
5. Why Are You Interested in This Company?
Don’t reply, “Because I need a job.” If that’s the best answer you can come up with, you’re not getting hired.
Research the company’s history and leadership team before the interview. Employers love it when you demonstrate knowledge of the company. If you go into an interview without knowing what the company does, it will be obvious. Your answer doesn’t have to be long and involved, but it should make clear reference to facts about the company and its past successes.
Before heading to your first job interview, the most important thing is to do your homework. Research the company and its culture. Prepare a few answers to common questions in advance, but try not to sound too rehearsed. You want to showcase your skill set, but you also want your personality to shine through. Spend a few hours getting ready, and you’ll set yourself apart from the competition.
Bobby Child currently works as a manager of University Suites.