Handling Your First Interview

Whatever feelings you will experience in the build up to your first interview, is no different to those experienced by seasoned interviewees. So, don’t be under any illusions that it gets easier, the more you’re interviewed. Those feelings of vulnerability, nerves, tension, anxiety and self-doubt are normal.

The key is not quantity of interviews but the quality of your preparation.

Your first step is creating your CV. Read our article Finished School – What now? This will guide you through developing your first CV.

Job searching can create mixed emotions of excitement and fear. It can be a daunting task but remember, each job interview is a mini project. The more you prepare for each step, the easier the next step will be.

Your next step is deciding what job you would like to do. Some people are happy to just get on the job ladder – nothing wrong with that but if you’re looking for something more YOU and satisfying, think about what job sector you’re best suited to. Talk to your parents, friends and family. Your teachers and lecturers can be very helpful too – After all, they know your academic strengths and weaknesses.

Once you’ve found a vacancy to apply for, read the job role, description and responsibilities carefully because you may want to change your CV and cover letter or a “pain letter”. Why You Need To Use A Pain Letter

The Interview

Part of your preparation is learning Motivational Techniques while job hunting and being patient. Preparing for the day of the interview is the biggest step and an experience that will strengthen your character. Have you ever heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, interviewers and recruiters don’t believe that. First impressions count for a lot so how you present yourself at the interview is the next task of the project.

Your two weapons are your CV and YOU, and both need to be sharp. You’ve done the first part with great success – you’ve got the interview so what’s next?

First impressions are very important on the day of your interview

  • Dress Appropriately
    Wear clothing that will suit the job role so don’t wear a suit if you’re applying for a job as a life guard, or a track suit for a sales position. whatever clothing you wear, make sure it’s clean. the creased look may look cool at the local skate park or a car meet but employers are not your buddies. Ask mum to help iron that shirt and trousers. She’ll be shocked into silence and gladly do it!
  • Personal Hygiene
    Get down to basics: shower/bath, haircut? (keep hair clear of your face), shave or neatly groomed facial hair, short fingernails or manicured and brushed teeth. Bad breath and body odour are a big turn-off.
  • Body Piercings & Tattoos
    Many employers still find these inappropriate. An employer may not employ you in a customer services role, sales or restaurants if you have excessive piercings or evocative and offensive tattoos. Consider removing piercings and covering tattoos with long sleeves.
  • Spicy Food and Booze
    Eating spicy or garlic flavoured food and alcohol, the night before, is a bad idea. When over indulging, your body will excrete these and may give off a bad odour.
  • Don’t Be Late!– We cannot stress enough how important time keeping is in the work place. Being late for your interview could ruin all the hard work you have put in.
  • Revise
    Read over your questions you would like to ask and prepare for questions you may be asked by the interviewer. Asking questions about the company will show the interviewer that you are committed to the job role and interested in the business.
  • Social Media
    Some employers may do an internet search about you. If you’re using sites, like Facebook and Twitter, make sure that you keep them as clean as possible and ask yourself if you’re sending out the right message. If you don’t want Nan to see it then you might want to update your profile.
  • Meet & Greet
    Whether you are Male or Female, saying “Hello X. How are you?”, with a smile, eye contact and a firm handshake, are a must. “Alright Mate!”, is not going to do you any favours. Give the interviewer a copy of your CV.
    Interviewers will expect you to be nervous and if you didn’t care about the job, you wouldn’t be nervous. If you’re offered tea or coffee, ask to have water.
  • Body Language
    Communicating with people is very complex. We send signals to people using eye contact, body movement and hand gestures. During an interview, we want the interviewer to be comfortable with you and to know that you’ll be great for the role. Take a look at our article: 15 Body Language Mistakes At An Interview
  • Listen & Learn
    Be attentive by carefully listening to your questions and advice. Try not to interrupt. Take a note pad with you. Take notes and turn your mobile phone off to avoid any interruption.
  • Lastly……
    Thank the Interviewer again, for their time. A firm handshake, eye contact and a smile will make a lasting impression. You may need to be patient, once again, for a reply.


If your application is not successful, don’t be disheartened. Being rejected is common but it’s not the end of the world. You may be rejected several time before you’re successful. Many top business professionals experience this often and they believe that it wasn’t meant to be. “When one door closes, another one opens”, is a saying they learn to accept. Use this opportunity to ask the interviewer why you weren’t successful. Feedback will help you learn how to improve and prepare for your next job application.

Tell us your first interview story. We’d love to hear about your experience.

Contact us if you need further advice.

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