Preparing for your First Professional Interview

For some college students, December brings with it the end of their college careers and the beginning of the job interview process in the hopes of landing that first job.  

While some students do have the benefit of gaining interview experience through internships, for others this may be their first experience with a professional interview. Interviews in the professional market are a bit different than those of summer jobs or after-school mall jobs. First impressions are just as important in job interviews as they are in everyday life.

Dress Professionally

Despite the more casual world we live in today, interviewing for a job is still a time to dress to impress. Unless the recruiting manager tells you to dress casually for the interview, your instinct should be to dress professionally. Jeans and t-shirts should be left at home for an interview. For both men and women, business attire should be the wardrobe choice of the day.

If the office has a casual environment and you’re unsure exactly how to dress, check with the recruiting manager at the time of the interview scheduling. But if you’re not sure, error on the side of business attire.

Present Yourself with Confidence

Talk confidently about your job experience to date. If you have previous experience with summer internships, be sure to discuss your day-to-day responsibilities and any key tasks you assisted on. Explain in the interview how those tasks benefited the company, your team, and your manager.

Even if you do not have internship experience, talk confidently and passionately about your overall work experiences. If your work experience is a grocery store cashier, or a clerk at a mall, or even as a summer painter, speak with conviction on your experience. Provide examples of how you helped a customer, or how your boss recognized you with a promotion or a raise.

Don’t shy away from these experiences just because you think they may not seem as important or relative to the position you are interviewing for. Remember, the person interviewing you was once your age with little-to-no professional work experience. Be confident in discussing your experiences.

Copies of Your Resume and Preparation

Bring at least five copies of your resume printed on resume paper. Although the hiring manager has already reviewed your resume, having a copy available for him or her shows you are well prepared. Don’t assume that everyone who will be interviewing you will have a copy of your resume or will have previously seen it.    

Also, be sure you are well familiar with all the jobs and experiences listed on your resume. Don’t get caught off guard regarding a question about your experience listed on your resume. It’s a bad look not being prepared to speak about experiences listed on your own resume.

Thankful and Follow-Up

Be thankful and respectful of the individual’s time with whom you are interviewing. Be sure to shake their hand upon leaving and request them for their business card. Ask if it would be ok for you to email any follow-up questions.  

Once home, send a thank you email to anyone who interviewed you. Reiterate an area of the interview that went extremely well to help reinforce you being the best candidate for the job.  Let them know you appreciate their time that day.