You can ace your first job interview by following these tips

Excelling at their first job interview can help students set the tone for the rest of their careers. Picture:

Excelling at their first job interview can help students set the tone for the rest of their careers. Picture:

Published Mar 28, 2024


While students devote most of their time to studying and embedding the required skills for their chosen profession before graduation, when preparing for that first crucial interview which could potentially launch their career, not enough time, energy, and focus is set aside.

The job-seeking phase can be both exciting and daunting, according to Dr Bronwyn Le-Ann Batchelor, head of the Faculty of Law at the Independent Institute of Education.

Batchelor said that a person’s first interview can set them apart from other job-seekers and set the tone for their entire career.

There are simple - but key - strategies available to help set yourself up for success and prepare for that all-important first interview.

Here are five tips to help you get through a job interview:

The role

Along with understanding the company, you should show that you understand the role, what will be expected of you, and how you will align with the requirements.

Dr Batchelor said: “Thoroughly analyse the job description or advertisement, whatever is available to you. Understand the key responsibilities, required skills, and qualifications. Consider how your skills and experiences match the job requirements and be ready to articulate this alignment during the interview.”

This preparation will demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and convince the interviewer that you are the right fit.

Know what you are going to say and look the part

First impressions are not always accurate, but they can instantly make a difference, whether positive or negative.

Think of a succinct and compelling introduction of yourself that highlights your relevant skills and experience.

Keep the introduction short, focused, and engaging, as this will likely be one of the first things you share in the interview and can leave a lasting impression, so make it count.

Dress in professional attire that aligns with the company's culture and the position you are applying for. Pay attention to grooming, and ensure your overall presentation reflects your respect for the opportunity.

You don’t have to splurge on new outfits – rather ensure that you make the best of what is available to you and put your best foot forward on the day.

The interview

It is easy to research common interview questions and how to approach them, but don’t give generic answers.

Preparing beforehand will reduce stress, anxiety and help you be more confident and articulate during the interview. Remember to prepare a list of your key accomplishments and how they demonstrate your skills, character, and qualifications for the position that you are applying for.

A great approach for structuring responses is the STAR method - Situation, Task, Action, Result.

This method allows you to provide concrete examples of how you have successfully handled challenges in the past. Even if you have not been previously formally employed, you will have examples from challenges or successes that you faced in your studies or personal life.

Practise, practise, practise

Get a friend or family member to help you conduct a mock interview.

Practise answering questions, refine your body language, and request constructive feedback.

This practise interview process can significantly reduce anxiety, boost your confidence, and help identify areas for improvement. During the mock interview, you can also practise the questions you will be asking the interviewer.

IOL Business