5 Tips for Your First Job or Internship Interview

5 Tips for Your First Job or Internship Interview

By Alyssa Abel

Your very first job interview is sometimes bound to make you anxious — but you're not alone. Everybody gets nervous for interviews — whether it’s their first time or well into their career. 

The truth is, you'll go on countless interviews throughout your professional life. This may be your first, but it certainly won't be your last. The more you practice interviewing, the more comfortable you'll become. Here are some helpful tips for your first online or in-person interview.

1. Know the Company

Whether you meet in person or via Zoom or Google Meets, this tip is universal. When you go in for an interview, it's important to know the company or organization well. Understand their mission and their values as well as their culture. This is helpful for the interview itself, but also in your job or internship search.

Knowing about the company itself can help you engage with the interviewer about your expectations for the role, and it shows your motivation to work there. It demonstrates commitment and enthusiasm. Plus, diving deeper into the facts of each company you apply for can help you decide where you truly want to be.

2. Don't Undersell Yourself

Humility has its place, but a job interview is not the venue for downplaying your accomplishments. Whether you hold leadership roles on your campus or consistently make the honor roll, you should find ways to talk about those accomplishments.

Bring up the experiences you've had through your accomplishments that shaped your capabilities and work ethic. You're there to convince them you're right for the position, so show your stuff!

Chances are good you'll still be in school during your first interview, as 72% of undergraduate students and 82% of graduate students work full-time or part-time. Mention your campus or academic life! You're in school to learn, and showing off that knowledge proves you're getting the most out of your education.

3. Dress for Success

Even if the company you're interviewing for is a hoodies-and-sneakers environment, it's always best to be on the safe side. Remember — you're not a part of the company yet. You're trying to get your foot in the door. Whether you're meeting over video chat or in person at their headquarters, it's best to dress professionally and appropriately.

One of the best online interview tips is to make sure your space is clean and professional if you're meeting digitally. How you present yourself is bound to make an impression. While you don't have to undergo a complete makeover, it's always best to clean up nicely.

4. Be Polite to Everyone

If you're attending an interview in person, it's important to be kind and polite to everyone. This includes receptionists, HR admins, and other candidates you might come into contact with. In addition to simply practicing good manners, this shows that you're a team player and can work well with others. Hiring managers care about your demeanor, not just your credentials.

Hiring managers also frequently ask receptionists and other staff members about particular candidates. If you're rude, it could come back to bite you.

5. Prepare Your Own Questions

At the end of almost every interview, the interviewer asks if the candidate has any questions. Take this opportunity. Turning the tables by asking questions shows interest, commitment, and enthusiasm for the role and the company. It also shows that you're taking the situation seriously.

Think of a few questions beforehand — aim for about two or three, as some may be answered naturally throughout the interview process. It never hurts to come prepared.

Try and Try Again

These job and internship interview tips are a great foundation. You might not get the position the first time around, but trying and trying again will certainly help you practice and learn more about the process. Whether you score a job on your first interview or use it as practice for the next, the perfect position is out there — and you can use your interview expertise to get it.   

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Alyssa Abel is a college and career writer with an interest in learning, lifestyle, study abroad and more. Read more advice on her blog, Syllabusy.   

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