Facing your first professional interview can be intimidating. To help you prepare, we’ve collected important tips from our recruiters so that you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of getting hired. Remember, your goal in the first interview is to get the second interview.

Do Your Research Before the Interview

It’s never a good idea to fly into an interview blindly. Here are a few tips to help guide your research: 

  1. Read through the company’s “about” page to get an understanding of their vision and philosophy. Remember these, because It helps if you can refer back to the company’s values or mission in your interview answers. 
  2. It’s not unusual to get a question like “What do you know about our company?” in the interview. Test yourself by seeing if you can accurately describe what the company does, who their clients are, and what your role would be.
  3. Use LinkedIn to research the interviewers and the team you’d be working with. Get a sense of their backgrounds to understand what kind of experiences and qualities they value. 
  4. Make sure you really understand the job description, and if you don’t, be prepared to ask questions in the interview. 
  5. Come to the interview prepared with a few questions about the company or job; this demonstrates that you’re taking the position seriously. 

Prepare for Commonly-Asked Interview Questions

With the information from your research, think through answers to common interview questions. Here are a few questions you can expect, especially for more junior roles:

  1. Why do you want to work for this company?
  2. What are your strengths?
  3. What are some things you need to work on?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What kind of team player are you?
  6. What kind of management style do you like?
  7. What would make you an ideal candidate for this position?

Come prepared with examples to support your interview responses. For instance, what would you say to “Tell me about a time when you worked well with a team”?

It’s also a good idea to leverage your research when answering questions. How can you discuss your skills, strengths, and values in a way that appeals to the company? If you’ve done your research, you’ll have an idea of what kind of language and experiences the company values, so use this knowledge to inform your answers. 

Practice Your Interview Skills

It may feel a bit goofy, but spend some time practicing mock interviews with a friend or family member. For starters, you can use the questions above and take turns asking them to your partner. Even if it feels a little awkward, this is great practice for the real thing. A basic rule of human psychology is that we get more comfortable with things the more we experience them, so even doing a role play like this three or four times will help you feel more comfortable when you come into that first interview. 

Clean Up Your Resume

There’s lots of great content out there to help you write a clear, professional resume, but here are some extra tips to help make sure you get the most out of yours:

  1. Save your resume file name as “Firstname-Lastname-Resume.” This tiny step helps recruiters stay organized and demonstrates attention to detail.
  2. Save your resume as a PDF. This prevents formatting errors from arising when a recruiter opens it up in a program that is incompatible with a word document file format.
  3. Edit your resume for each job, if needed. If there are elements of your experience that deserve to be highlighted for a specific application, then tweak your resume to make sure those stand out clearly.
  4. Enlist someone to help you proofread your resume. We have a tendency to gloss over grammatical mistakes we’ve made, so a fresh set of eyes will help you catch whatever you have missed. 

Be Honest — Be Yourself

At the end of the day, the tips above do help improve your chances of getting the job, but only if it’s the right job. Make sure you stay true to yourself throughout the whole process; there’s no use trying to force yourself into a job that isn’t right for you or the company. So while it may be tempting to go through that first interview asking yourself, “What do they want to hear?” see if you can balance that out by also asking yourself, “What do I want to say?” Keeping an eye on your values and goals will ensure that when you do land a job, it’s the one you’re really right for in every way.