How to Nail Your First Job Interview: 12 Tips From HR Experts

Last month, a relative reached out to me, asking me to prep her for an upcoming interview. This was going to be her first full-time position since graduating from school, and she needed me to run a mock interview with her. So, I collected her resume and all the details about the position.

As we ran through the mock interview, I realized that she didn’t sound so sure about how to answer most of my questions, especially when I asked her to talk about herself and what she knew about the company.

Let’s just say we had many retakes of this mock interview—and I’m glad that the effort paid off. She made it through the two rounds of interviews, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the job offer.

Knowing that new graduates are often vulnerable when seeking their first job, I figured it would help to share some advice for a successful job interview. To achieve this, I reached out to my HR network on Twitter, asking for their expert tips to use in this blog post.

Below, you’ll find quotes from some HR experts sharing advice for your first job interview. Regardless of how short or long these quotes are, know that these are actionable tips that work when preparing for job interviews. 

1. Do your research

“Research the business and the industry. Learn about their customers and suppliers. Foresee what you think the biggest pain points could be for the business group you will be supporting.”

Andrew Grimshaw, People & Culture Director

2. Get your documents ready

“Tailor your employment documents such as resume/CV and cover letter and your experiences to the basic requirements of the job. Ensure that they’ve addressed the employer’s pain points and, most importantly, that you’ve provided solutions within these documents.”

– Momo Eduok, HR Consultant

3. Practice interviewing

“A powerful first impression could be the difference between succeeding and failing. So, practice and perfect your response to the most commonly asked question, ‘tell me about yourself.’ Your response is the start of your elevator pitch, which is a clear, brief message or ‘commercial’ about you. It should convey who you are, what you’re looking for in terms of the position you are applying to, and how you can benefit the company or organization.”

Jacquelyn Johnson, HR Business Partner & Career Coach

4. Know the interview location

“Plan the trip to the interview in advance. Take a practice run if necessary.”

Dr. Melanie Peacock, Associate Professor & HR Consultant

5. Anticipate and prepare for virtual interviews

Since most of the interviews now take place virtually, ensure that your device is not overloaded with millions of windows open. Although at home, still be professionally dressed.”

Anna Mamalaki, HR/OD Consulting Director

To avoid technical issues at the last minute, it’s important to:

Test your WiFi or Zoom before the interview.”

Suzanne Wolko, HR Director

6. Be early and courteous 

“Arrive 10 minutes early—not earlier, not later. Turn your phone off or just leave it in your car. Treat and greet everyone you meet with the same courtesy and respect you intend to show to the interviewer. Everyone you meet that day will have an opinion if you should be hired.”

Karl Boettcher, Business Executive

7. Answer truthfully

“Admit what you don’t know, but state that you’re willing to learn.” 

Jason Waterman, Business Executive and Talent Acquisition Expert

“If you don’t know a certain tool, be honest and say you haven’t used the tool. Don’t lie about jobs, certifications, or education. Just don’t lie!”

Lydia Williams, Talent Acquisition Manager

8. Share relevant examples

“Provide specific examples of projects you’ve worked on that apply to the role – that can be measured. For example, I used [specific tool] to [task completed] that resulted in [give awesome results].”

eTeki, Technical Interviewing Platform

9. Ask for clarification

“Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need it. It’s ok to ask for clarification on something or ask the interviewer to repeat a question in your interview. This is true in any job interview, but especially in a video interview where it can be harder to communicate.”

Alan Price, Chief Executive Officer

10. Be yourself

“Be yourself. You will be the one doing the work – not some version of you that you think they’re looking for.”

Nicole Roberts, Vice President, People & Culture

11. Prepare questions for the interviewer

“Prepare a few smart questions for when it’s your turn to ask. Make sure they’re thoughtful ones that show you’ve done your homework when it comes to researching the organization and the job you’re after.”

Alan Price, Chief Executive Officer

“When it’s your turn to ask questions, always include the question, ‘what happens next in this interview process?’ Also, find out why the panel likes working with the company—their vibe matters.”

Julie Turney, HR Consultant

12. Send a Thank You note

“Plan in advance to send handwritten ‘Thank You’ notes that highlight important aspects of the interview. Customize for each interviewer or conversation.”

Mike Sipple Jr., Business Executive and Talent Acquisition Expert

There you have it! Remember, many HR professionals and business executives conduct interviews regularly for candidates, some of whom are candidates with no experience. Together, these experts have contributed their tips for making a good impression during your first job interview. We hope that you find these tips helpful.

A huge thanks to everyone who contributed their advice for first-time job interviews.

What other tips would you add to this list?


P.S. Hey there! Did you find this blog post helpful? If you did, please consider sharing it on your social media so that others can benefit from it too. It would mean a lot to me! 😊

A little about me – I’m an HR Professional and a Freelance Content Writer. I work with HR Tech companies that offer innovative solutions, such as SaaS platforms, apps, and e-tools, to HR and Business Leaders. I can help your company gain visibility and draw visitors to your website by writing compelling articles and blog posts for your audience.

If you have a question about this blog post or want to inquire about my content writing services, please contact me.

And I’d love to connect with you on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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