Your resume stood out. Now it is time for you to shine – in person. You got called for a first-round interview. So, what is next?
The first-round interview’s goal is to validate your qualifications and determine initial culture fit. Your application passed the test, but do you deliver?
The tips below will help you prepare for a typical first-round interview:
1. Do Your Research
Know everything you can about the company and the role – via the company website, Glassdoor and social media sites. This includes having intelligent questions lined up to ask the interviewer. Show them you have a good idea of what it will be like to work there and what should be expected of you. Also, research your interviewers. Check LinkedIn or the company’s biography pages online. (Pro tip: Glassdoor even allows interviewees to post previous interview questions. See if any previous candidates did you a favor.)
You might be wondering how you could practice if you do not know what you are going to be asked. Grab an interview question list, and see how many answers you have ready. Prep for the ones you cannot just rattle off. While it may be more comfortable to practice with your spouse, try getting someone else to do the exercise with you. A mentor, a previous colleague or classmate would be good options (in other words, someone you will try harder to impress).
3. Prep An Elevator Pitch
It should be expected that one of the first things an interviewer will ask of you is “Tell me about yourself.” Do not go into a 10-minute explanation or mumble through it. You should have a succinct boilerplate that points out your strengths and gives the interviewer no doubt that you are capable of the job at the question.
4. Know Your Competitive Edge
Before you head into the interview room, know what three assets will set you apart from the other dozens of candidates who will also be interviewed. If you are going for a management position, everyone probably has managerial experience. Instead, focus on how you inspire your team to be entrepreneurial, for example. Weave this into other answers and provide examples. It will give the interviewer a clear picture of what makes you different.
5. Pay Attention
You are probably nervous, so you are listening carefully for every question to ensure you answer it effectively. However, pay attention to the reactions to your answers too. This will help you better prepare when it comes time for the second interview. If you keep talking about your innovation management process, but the interviewer gets more excited when you tell them about your data-driven, decision-making approach, then take note.
After your first-round interview, be sure to send a thank-you note (if you want any chance of getting a second-round callback). Shooting over an email within a day is acceptable. Then, follow up appropriately after that.
According to The Muse, there are five major reasons for being knocked out in the first round of interviews. Heed these warnings:
- You come off as a poor cultural fit
- You are an interrupter
- You reek of neediness
- You give off a vibe that onboarding you will be extensive
- You are a WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) candidate
Usually, your first interview will not be your last – many companies interview their candidates at least twice to be certain on whom they are hiring. Keep these tips in mind, and good luck on your first round of interviews!