4 mins read

How to Prepare for Your Very First Interview

06 April 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Okay, a show of hands: who gets nervous about attending interviews?

Yup. Everyone here in the office put their hand up!

Feeling nervous or anxious about attending an interview is a normal experience. It’s rarely the case that we land an interview and don’t care about the opportunity it might lead us to. We get nervous because we really want that opportunity – and we really want to make a good impression!

The truth is, you’re likely always going to feel at least a little bit nervous about attending an interview, but you can help to keep those nerves in check and put your best foot forward with a few key tips for preparation.

The Week Before

The week before your interview, these are the things you should be focusing on:

Do Your Research

And we don’t mean a quick scan of the front page of the company website!

Check their social media, industry news websites, and their website. Read key sections including company values, strategic plans, careers and ‘work for us’ sections, staff and latest news pages. All this information will be helpful for you in building your impression of the company, but it will also impress when you’re asked ‘what do you know about us?’ and you can talk confidently about the latest company projects or milestones.

Get Some Practice In

With mum, dad, a sibling, a teacher, a careers advisor, or the dog (okay, maybe not the dog. They’re great but probably not very helpful in this context).

Research the top common interview questions and make sure you practice your answers. Aim to talk through your answer confidently, but don’t sound like a robot repeating a script. Doing this with someone who can give you support and feedback will help you feel less nervous and capable when you’re in that interview room. Top questions to practice include:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Can you give us an example from your experience that would make you a good candidate for this role?Plan Your Journey

Do a trial run at the same time as your interview (traffic changes throughout the day, so if your interview is at 3 pm, a trial run at 10 am probably won’t be helpful!). Whether you’re catching the bus, an Uber or the taxi of mum and dad: plan your journey. This will help you familiarise yourself with the actual journey itself and create less room for anxiety on the day.

Check traffic updates the night before for disruptions, and always wake up early on the day of your actual interview to do the same so you have plenty of time to factor in any potential delays.

The Night Before

When your interview is the next day, here are a few things to help keep calm the night before:

Prepare Your Outfit

Never underestimate how much looking sharp can help your interview nerves!

Make sure you pick something clean, ironed, that fits well, and you feel comfortable in. No point wearing those super-smart trousers if they’re too tight when you sit down and will have you fidgeting the whole time. Prepare everything right down to the right colour socks and polished shoes the night before.

Having everything ready and waiting for you in the morning is another way to remove any unnecessary stress and help you feel relaxed and confident as you get on your way.

Prepare Some Questions to Ask

Avoid anything around salary, time off or benefits. Focus on your role, the projects you’ll be involved with, your team, and the work culture. Questions around these topics show you’re interested and invested in the opportunity at hand.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask when you’ll hear back about your interview. It’s always good to know so you can be ready for a call or email.

Get a Good Nights Sleep

When we’re feeling nervous, it can be easy to sit awake at night worrying or aimlessly scrolling through our phones to try and make ourselves feel better. But a good night of rest will help you to feel much calmer. Try meditating or reading a book to help you drift off and feel well-rested.

Ensure you set your alarm to allow yourself plenty of time to get up, ready and out the door.

On the Day

And on the big day of the interview, a few things to remember:

Eat a Good Breakfast

Or lunch, or both!

Whatever time your interview is, make sure you eat a good healthy meal beforehand. Because you know what’s terrible for interview nerves? A growling, empty stomach at the interview table that everyone can hear.

Get there on Time

Being late stresses everyone involved out and doesn’t create the glowing first impression we know you’ll be after. Always arrive 5-10 minutes early (but no more, arriving too early puts pressure on the employer who might be with another candidate. Also not a good first impression!).

If you’re running late because something happened, make sure you phone ahead and let them know and apologise. Stay calm and be professional.

Send the ‘Thank You’ Follow Up

Once you’re done, make sure you send the follow-up email. Thank the interview panel for their time and opportunity to meet with them. Express you’re still interested in the role after learning more about it, and you look forward to hearing about their decision.

Don’t be afraid to use this opportunity to ask any questions you forgot, or that came up after you left the interview room. Employers are usually always happy to answer, and it creates a positive impression that you’re still engaged in the role.

If you’ve done the research, preparation and practice, you should (fingers crossed) find the interview a less daunting experience.

And we’ll all cross our fingers for a positive outcome!


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