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Your first interview: Everything you need to know

25 Feb

The first job interview you ever have will likely be the scariest, toughest and - hopefully - most rewarding one you’ll encounter in your career. When you’re fresh out of school, without significant work experience or the confidence that comes with it, that first step can feel overwhelming and terrifying. But with a bit of preparation and know-how, your first interview can be a positive, rewarding experience.

You are what you wear

While your personality, expertise and knowledge of the role you’re applying for will likely be the main things your interviewers look for, the way you present yourself will also be a key consideration.

Research has shown that static cues, such as clothing style, and dynamic cues, such as facial expression and posture, can be seen to reveal personality traits. Not only that, but your interviewer will also be looking to see how you could fit into the company environment, so a professional outfit tailored to the role you’re applying for is essential.

Dress for success

As a general rule, neat, conservative and professional outfits are best for job interviews in any sector. However, it’s also vital that you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. If you’re buying or borrowing clothes specifically for your interview, make sure you give them a few test runs first. Dress for the role, company and industry you’re applying for - for example, if you’re looking to move into financial services you’ll likely want to appear formal and professional in a suit or similar, while creatives and those interviewing for more casual roles can often opt for tidy business-casual.

Assess the company

If you’re not sure what you should wear for your job interview, one easy way to find out is by asking your recruiter or hiring manager what the general standard of dress is in the office. You can also look at the company’s website and see if there are employee profiles or photos that help you get a better idea of what existing employees wear. While you’re there, jot down a few notes about what you like about the company’s online presence, staff profiles or any other information you can use to your advantage. This will show you’ve taken a real interest in the company and have done your research.

Prepare your responses

Preparation is key when it comes to your first job interview, and while it’s impossible to know everything that you’ll be asked, there are a few common questions you’ll typically encounter at this stage.

One of the first things you’ll be asked is why you want the position you applied for. When answering this, cover why you’re interested in the specific role as well as the reasons you’d love to work for the company. It’s also a good idea to show you’ve done your research, so be specific with your responses. For example, you could mention the positive reputation of leaders within the company, an organisational strategy you admire, company values that resonate with you or a key element of the position that you know you’d love.

What not to say

As for conversation topics you should avoid in a job interview, a little common sense goes a long way. Avoid bad-mouthing previous employers and try to turn negative experiences and attributes into positives, or at least show how you’ve learned and grown from them. Do ask about the company culture and what other people like about working in the organisation, but avoid asking too much about sick leave, holiday pay, disciplinary action or anything else that could suggest you’re going to be anything but a committed, contributing employee.

The final word

Finally, make sure you leave the interview on a positive note. Have a couple of questions prepared and jot down notes as you go so that you seem conscientious and interested, and always wrap up the interview with something positive. Thank your interviewer for their time, ask what you can expect with the process from this stage and reaffirm your interest in and enthusiasm for the role.

If you’re looking to apply your newfound interview knowledge and are considering applying for a job, take a look at IFDS’ range of vacancies. From finance and customer service positions through to governance and administration roles, there’s a wide spectrum of options to choose from.

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