8 Smart Ways You Can Nail Your First Ever Job Interview

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Aug 22

Preparing for your first job interview can be nerve-racking. Even if you know what to answer to common interview questions, the pressure can get into your head. Staying calm is one of the many ways on how to ace job interviews.

There is a wealth of information in the Internet that offer job interview tips for fresh graduates. The selection is vast—from the “common knowledge” to the obscure. Some are science-backed, while most are straight from the interviewers themselves. It’s up to you to choose which tips to follow.

Here are 8 tips that you can add in your action plan to get the job you want.

Acknowledge that you’re nervous

First, let’s talk about your nerves. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed to kill or you’ve memorized the name of every member of the board. If you don’t avoid anxiety, you’re at risk of busting your job interview. Psychologist Dr. Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety, notes that it’s essential to acknowledge that you’re nervous so you can prepare for it. “It’s not a surprise when it comes up, so it doesn’t derail your attention,” she says.

Whether you’re preparing to pass a job interview or dealing with a tough life event, it’s important that you first admit your predicament so you can address it accordingly. Know your enemy, as the saying goes.

Get quality zzz’s the night before

After acknowledging that you’re experiencing job interview anxiety, you should now find ways on how to put your nerves under control. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the key to help you cope with anxiety or stress is by making better lifestyle choices. Eat well-balanced meals, get enough sleep, and exercise daily.

Before your interview, hit the gym or jog in a nearby park. Exercising can help you fall asleep easily the night before your big day. Have a light well-balanced meal and avoid alcohol or coffee a couple of hours before bedtime.

Read, read, read

Dr. Chansky says that “the more prepared you feel, the less anxious you’ll feel.” Preparations include the basics: research about the company, know about the job role you’re applying for, and practice answering commonly asked questions. Hiring call centers expect applicants to have a working knowledge of business process outsourcing. Regardless of the industry you’re eyeing, take time to read the latest news on the company, its competitors, and the industry in general. The last thing your interviewer should hear from you are the words “I don’t know.”

Dress like a boss

One careless mistake of job applicants is not observing proper dress code during interviews. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. How would you feel if an applicant shows up in whitewashed jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers? Whether you’re applying for a white- or blue-collar job, call center positions or executive posts, you should dress appropriately. When in doubt, dress conservatively.

Men are advised to wear a suit and slacks; women should wear a dark-colored suit with a knee-high skirt or a pair of slacks. Avoid loud colors, strong perfume, and unnecessary accessories.

Do the power pose

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that power priming can be your tool in passing an interview for your dream job. Remember a personal experience that involves power or doing power poses can affect an interviewer’s impression of you.

Dr. Amy Cuddy, a renowned social psychologist and lecturer, talked about power posing or postures that make people feel empowered. “Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips, or with your arms reaching up in a ‘V’. Or sit with your legs in front of you, feet propped up on a desk or a table, leaning back, with your hands on the back of your head, fingers interlaced, and elbows pointing out,” Dr. Cuddy shares. You can do these power poses for two minutes before going to your interview.

Make a positive first impression

It is said that it only takes a few minutes for an interviewer to know whether he’s hiring you or not. Passing job interviews can be a tough undertaking, but it’s not insurmountable. A paper released by the British Psychology Society suggests that initial impressions during the first few minutes of an interview influence an applicant’s final ratings. The researchers said that “the rapport-building stage was giving early insight into some sense of perceived fit to the specific role, as well as genuine candidate ability, in addition to personality factors.”

Rehearse a few statements on why you are the right person for the job. Set the tone of your job interview by framing the conversation on how you want to be perceived.

Ask the right questions

Your job interview is your chance not only to convince your interviewer that you’re the right choice but also to confirm that you’ve chosen the right company. This is one reason why career experts warn against employers that are not professional enough to return your follow-up calls after an interview.

Generally, an interviewer will ask you whether you have questions in mind. The right answer is to say yes. But what questions should you be asking? Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, recommends some questions: Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?, Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?, and Is there anyone else I need to meet with? These will give an impression that you’re really interested in the post. It will also help you gauge the hiring timeline.

Let your handshake seal the deal

University of Iowa researchers say that handshakes are “more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness or emotional stability” during job interviews. Researcher George Stewart, associate professor of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business, said that a good handshake should involve “a complete, firm grip, eye contact and a vigorous up-and-down movement.”

Going to job interviews can be daunting. Whether you’re pursuing call center jobs, teaching posts or sales-related vacancies, it’s important to be prepared. Remember to keep your nerves in check, dress appropriately, do your research, and ask the right questions that’ll give a positive impression. Seal the deal with a firm handshake that says “I mean business!”


Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. She uses the information to create viral and useful content as part of the new media strategy. She’s interested with technology, market behavior, new media, environment, sustainability, futuristic scenarios and businesses.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.